Fort National

Fort National lies on a small tidal island, in front of the city of Saint-Malo, in the Ille-et-Vilaine department in France.

The island, called Îlette, was first used as the site of a fire beacon. Later, during the Middle Ages the island was used for public executions; in earlier times criminals were burnt at stake, later gallows occupied the site.

At the end of the 17th century Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban, the famous military engineer, inspected the fortifications of Saint-Malo for Louis XIV of France. Deciding it needed strengthening he not only modified the town and castle ramparts to mount artillery, but also designed a series of outlying forts on the islands in the bay in order to protect Saint-Malo against Anglo-Dutch fleets.

One of these forts was Fort National, then called Fort Royal, which was built by the engineer Siméon Garengeau, according to Vauban's plans, between 1689 and 1693. It is suggested that maybe a battery occupied the site before the building of the fort.

In 1693 the forts, some not even finished yet, were tested in an attack of an Anglo-Dutch fleet on Saint-Malo which they managed to repel. They repelled another attack in 1695.

In 1848 an outer enclosure was added to the fort to protect it from infantry attacks and it was renamed Fort National in 1870. In 1927 it was sold to a private buyer. 

On August 6th, 1944, Saint-Malo was still under German occupation. When the Allies started to bomb the town the Germans imprisoned 380 men from the town in the fort to prevent an uprising. They were kept there for 6 days, during which 18 of them died from Allied shelling and exhaustion, after which they were let go during a short truce. Saint-Malo was finally liberated on August 16th by the American 83rd Infantry Division. The fort was later restored.

At present Fort National can be visited for a small fee during the summer months but only by walking over the beach during low tides. During high tides it is inaccessible as Saint-Malo has a tidal range of 13 meters. The beautiful walled city of Saint-Malo with its castle and several forts (with besides Fort National also Fort Petit-Bé) is very much worth your visit. Recommended! Fort Aleth and the Solidor Tower, both opposite Saint-Malo, are also nearby.


Gallery

Fort National

Fort National lies on a small tidal island, in front of the city of Saint-Malo, in the Ille-et-Vilaine department in France.

The island, called Îlette, was first used as the site of a fire beacon. Later, during the Middle Ages the island was used for public executions; in earlier times criminals were burnt at stake, later gallows occupied the site.

At the end of the 17th century Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban, the famous military engineer, inspected the fortifications of Saint-Malo for Louis XIV of France. Deciding it needed strengthening he not only modified the town and castle ramparts to mount artillery, but also designed a series of outlying forts on the islands in the bay in order to protect Saint-Malo against Anglo-Dutch fleets.

One of these forts was Fort National, then called Fort Royal, which was built by the engineer Siméon Garengeau, according to Vauban's plans, between 1689 and 1693. It is suggested that maybe a battery occupied the site before the building of the fort.

In 1693 the forts, some not even finished yet, were tested in an attack of an Anglo-Dutch fleet on Saint-Malo which they managed to repel. They repelled another attack in 1695.

In 1848 an outer enclosure was added to the fort to protect it from infantry attacks and it was renamed Fort National in 1870. In 1927 it was sold to a private buyer. 

On August 6th, 1944, Saint-Malo was still under German occupation. When the Allies started to bomb the town the Germans imprisoned 380 men from the town in the fort to prevent an uprising. They were kept there for 6 days, during which 18 of them died from Allied shelling and exhaustion, after which they were let go during a short truce. Saint-Malo was finally liberated on August 16th by the American 83rd Infantry Division. The fort was later restored.

At present Fort National can be visited for a small fee during the summer months but only by walking over the beach during low tides. During high tides it is inaccessible as Saint-Malo has a tidal range of 13 meters. The beautiful walled city of Saint-Malo with its castle and several forts (with besides Fort National also Fort Petit-Bé) is very much worth your visit. Recommended! Fort Aleth and the Solidor Tower, both opposite Saint-Malo, are also nearby.


Gallery