Fort du Grand Bé

The Grand Bé is the largest island close to the town of Saint Malo and the most obvious candidate for the location of a fort to guard against enemy ships. The first fortification was built on the island in 1555 in the form of a small redoubt. In 1652 a curved stone battery was built on Grand Bé, with its guns facing out to sea.

In 1689 Vauban revamped the coastal fortifications in the bay. The neighbouring islands were fortified as Fort du Petit Bé and Fort National. On Grand Bé, he proposed an enlargement of the fort, with a demi-bastioned front behind the main battery and several buildings for accommodation and storage. However, it seems that Vauban's proposal was not fully carried out. Perhaps the reason for this is that the other two forts are further into the bay and they are both built on rock outcrops that are taller than the rocks of Grand Bé. This meant that they were able to cover water further away from the town with ther guns. However, the guns of the Fort du Grand Bé were fired on the English fleets that attacked Saint-Malo in 1693 and 1695. By the 1750s some of the buildings were lying in ruins and the even the fort's walls were still not complete. Since the island is joined to the mainland at low tide, most of the garrison probably lived in the town.

Visiting Grand Bé

The fort was almost completely destroyed in the battle of St Malo during the Second World War, leaving just traces of the fort such as foundations and small parts of wall. Only Chateaubriand's tomb has been restored, which is still one of the tourist attractions of the bay. It is possible to walk to the island at low tide today.

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