Aix island, France

Aix island, France

Aix island also called “Île d’Aix” is a small island located in the Atlantic and in the department of Charente-Maritime, on the south-west of France and between Oleron and Ré islands.

Aix island, France


A bit of history!

At the end of the 12th century, France and England fought for the possession of this island.
In the 16th century, during the French Wars of Religion, the island became Catholic and then Protestant.
Vauban built numerous fortifications on the island, which Ferry completed in 1704.
During the Seven Years’ War (1756–1763) the British captured the island in 1757 and destroyed its ramparts as part of the attempted Raid on Rochefort, before withdrawing several weeks later. The island of Île d’Aix was again captured by British forces in 1759 following the Battle of Quiberon Bay and occupied until the end of the war in 1763. The fortifications were then rebuilt by several French officers.

During the French revolution, in 1794, the island was used as a prison for the suppression of religious opponents, in which hundreds of priests were left to die in moored prison-boats.

Napoleon visited the island in 1808 and gave directions to reinforce the fortifications.
In 1815, Napoleon spent his last days in France at Île d’Aix, after the defeat at Waterloo before he was transferred to Saint Helena.

How to access it?

During summer this small island attracts lots of tourists and the only way to reach it is by boat and the easiest way is from Fouras.

Fouras, France

The cruise takes about 30 minutes from Fouras but it’s also possible to come from La Rochelle or Oléron island.

In Fouras, the ferry leaves from “Pointe de la Fumée” where there is a big parking area to leave your car. Unfortunately, it’s not free but it’s not very expensive. It will cost you less than 10€ to park your car for the whole day.
The ferry takes only passengers and bicycles, you can’t go with your own car.

When the ferry will leave from “Pointe de la Fumée” you will first pass the fort Énet which is a fortification and which can be accessed at low tide. It’s now a private residence but it can be also visited.

Fort Énet, France

Nowadays Aix island is popular because of the famous Fort Boyard. This monument was first a fortress and ended as a jail. In 1990 a French TV production bought is and started to renovate it to create a new type of TV game show which is now international.

Fort Boyard can be seen from Boyardville on Oléron island and from Aix island. It’s also possible to cruise around the fortress but you won’t be able to visit it.

Cars are not allowed on the island, except for a few islanders. When you will arrive on the island you have different ways to visit it. By foot, by renting a bicycle or in a horse carriage.

The best way is to just walk. There are few souvenir shops in the centre as well as a small supermarket, restaurants and bars. You can even buy or bring your own sandwiches and enjoy them on one of the beaches. You can also walk around the island, it will take a couple of hours but there are lots of shortcuts. You can get a free map when you arrive on the island.

Like I had my GoPro camera and TurnsPro mount, I did a small time lapse video on the “Grande plage” during our lunch break.

Aix island, France

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In the centre of the island, there is a nice chapel with its small crypt. The entrance is free.

You will notice everywhere the hollyhocks, those tall flowers called “roses trémières” in French are very popular in this area.

Aix island, France

There is also the last home of Napoleon before his final exile which is now a small museum.
The entrance costs 3€ but it worth a visit.
In the same street, you will find the African museum with a collection of trophies, sculptures and ethnographic objects. The entrance costs 4,50€.

More information: and

Behind the small village and hidden from the tourist path, you will find the cemetery with very old graves, even from soldiers who died during the First World War.

At the end of the afternoon, everybody will try to leave the island at the same time. If you are not in a hurry, don’t run to the first returning ferry, wait for the second one you won’t have to wait so long.

Aix island, France

More information about Aix island:

Where to stay?

There are a few places where to stay on the island like the Résidence Pierre & Vacances Le Fort de la Rade or Hotel Napoleon.

But I recommend to stay in Fouras which has more evening activities and which is also cheaper.