The "lock of the estuary," a classified UNESCO site built by royal military architect Le Prestre Vauban

One of the grandest works of famous military engineer Vauban, the "lock of the estuary" comprises three fortified citadels on the Gironde estuary, protecting Bordeaux from enemy maritime attacks. The three fortifications are the Citadel of Blaye on the right bank, Fort Pâté on an island in the estuary, and Fort Médoc on the left bank. These features have been listed with UNESCO World Heritage status since 2008, along with eleven other sites built by Vauban in France.

The Citadelle of Blaye

Built by Vauban between 1686 and 1689 to protect Bordeaux, the citadel served to prevent English and Dutch boats sailing up the estuary of the Gironde. Vauban also built two forts, Fort Pâté and Fort Médoc, to complete the defence of the estuary.

Since July 2008, the three forts have been classified by UNESCO on the list of world heritage sites as part of the Réseau des Sites Majeurs Vauban.

The citadel's seventeenth century defence systems are perfectly preserved. 1.5 km of walls, four bastions, three towers and underground passages between the lines of defence, along with all the buildings necessary for a working fort, with soldiers barracks, an arsenal, a chapel, and a jail.

Guided tours of the citadel and its underground tunnels are organised every day.

The Gironde estuary

Formed by the confluence of the rivers Garonne and Dordogne and flowing into the Atlantic Ocean, the Gironde estuary is the largest in Europe. A singular natural environment, it hosts an archipelago of nine islands, some of which are accessible on organised cruises throughout the summer season by boat from Blaye. There are many species of birds to be seen.

Cordouan lighthouse

The Cordouan lighthouse is situated at mouth of the Gironde estuary. It is the only offshore lighthouse on the coast of France still working. It's also the oldest and the only one in the world open to visitors!

The vineyards of Blaye

The vineyards of the appellation Côtes de Bordeaux Blaye produce red and white wines. Lots of tours, open days and winemakers happy to welcome visitors.

Discover Blaye and the Gironde estuary