Blaye citadel: Médoc, Pâté and Roland the hero

The citadelThe citadel | ©Havang(nl) / CC-BY-SA

This citadel is a masterpiece raised in the reign of Louis XIV by the famous French military architect, Sébastien Le Prestre, marquis de Vauban.

Proudly overlooking Gironde estuary since 1632, the stronghold was built round a castle flanked by bastions and surrounded by moats. Then, two fortress were raised: the fort Médoc, on river Gironde's left bank and the fort Pâté put up on an island in the middle of the estuary.

Did you know the legend located Roland's grave in Blaye? Roland, Charlemagne's famous nephew, who died at Roncevaux (Spain): he was buried in Blaye with his Durandal sword and his horn...

But our city is older than Vauban's time: Roman people had a garrison in "Blavia" and a stronghold (an oppidum). The Normans demolished Blaye, then duke William of Gascogne destroyed the roman oppidum and raised a castle.

Then, Blaye was torn between the French and the English: the famous Breton constable Du Guesclin was sent by king Charles V in order to besiege the place in 1363... but at that time, Eleanor of Aquitaine married the king of England: the area was English now! Oh, Gosh! Blaye became French in 1451, one more time...