Histoire - Patrimoine bâti, Se réveiller à Belle-île - Hébergements, Belle île en mer, île de Bretagne, Bretagne sud, au large du Golfe du MorbihanVue aérienne de la Citadelle Vauban, à Le Palais, haut-lieu du Patrimoine Historique et Hôtel-Musée.
©Vue aérienne de la Citadelle Vauban, à Le Palais, haut-lieu du Patrimoine Historique et Hôtel-Musée.|Philippe Ulliac
The Palace The Vauban Citadel

The Citadel is currently closed to visitors for an indefinite period.

Proudly silhouetting above the port of Le Palais, the Vauban Citadel symbolizes a thousand years of history in Belle-Ile-en-Mer.


A fortress facing the sea

A thousand years of history

It is at the very beginning of the Middle Ages (11th century) that the island will first, be managed and protected by monks and Benedictines from Redon and Quimperlé. We owe to these ecclesiastics the first defensive elements of the coasts against the pirates, as well as the first developments of the island: priories and chapels, houses and fishing port.

After Brittany became part of the Kingdom of France (1532), François I and then his son, Henri II, were concerned about the island’s security. It must be said that at that time, the rivalry between the kingdoms of France, Spain, England and the Holy Roman Empire reached its peak. It was in this context that in 1573, Charles IX pushed the monks to cede Belle-île to the Gondi family, close to the Medici family, so that the latter could build a veritable fortress capable of opposing any enemy incursions. It is from this period that the economic development of the island dates and more particularly ofThe Palace.

Now, in just a few years (in truth, less than a hundred years), the French Monarchy has evolved greatly. The “House of Bourbon” succeeded that of the Valois. The Gondi are facing great financial difficulties and therefore decide to cede Belle-île … “So that this place, does not fall into the hands of suspicious people”, Louis XIV invites Nicolas Fouquet, his Superintendent of Finance, to acquire it. This will be done in September 1658. However, Nicolas Fouquet, named Marquis of Belle-île, will never have the opportunity to land on his land: he is arrested and imprisoned by the Sun King in 1661, for embezzlement.

The Vauban Genius

By virtue of this disgrace, Belle-Île became the property of Louis XIV who had it managed successively by the Compagnie des Indes, fermiers généraux and then by the States of Brittany…Not without first entrusting it to the good care of his military genius that is Sébastien Le Preste de Vauban.

In March 1683, Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban, Commissioner General of Fortifications, disembarked at Belle-île. Wishing to make the citadel of Belle-île “one of the best places in the kingdom,” he integrated it into a complete island defense system that he had concocted by embarking on two tours of the island. Guards, coast batteries, beach barrages and entrenchments, redoubts, urban enclosure: the entire grammar of defensive construction is called upon. But these recommendations will not be listened to. In 1761, during the Seven Years’ War, the English took the citadel, made vulnerable by the absence of an urban enclosure.

Why do you like the Citadelle Vauban?
Its hanging gardens which dominate the port of Le Palais, and where it is good to stroll
Its guided tours that take us to the most secret corners of the Citadel
The formula, in season, visit of the museum + lunch at the restaurant La Table du Gouverneur for only 25€.
A couple of enthusiastsin the service of history

With the progress of artillery, especially during the 19th century, the defensive system imagined by Vauban, will become obsolete. Having thus lost its strategic interest, the Vauban Citadel will slowly fall asleep and Nature will regain its rights there.

In 1960, the State sells the Citadel to André and Anna Larquetoux who become its owners. They will devote their passion and their fortune to it, at the cost of 45 years of work that will restore the monument to its full glory.

As true patrons, Mr. and Mrs. Larquetoux will assemble a whole collection of paintings, books, model ships, ex-votos and nautical charts that are presented within the Museum of Art and History in the heart of the Citadel.

The museum, currently closed, will, once again, get a makeover! It will welcome Art and History enthusiasts in March 2023.


So that this place does not fall into the hands of suspicious people

Louis XIV