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Beautifully restored citadel on the banks of the Gironde estuary

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The town of Blaye is situated on the right bank of the Gironde estuary. Its major historical feature is its fortified citadel, which along with Fort Médoc and Fort Paté make up a trio of fortresses designed to defend Bordeaux against a river attack.

Together they form the Fortifications of Vauban group classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Remains of the walls of a 12th century castle built by the Counts of Blaye remain visible, curtain walls over 10 metres thick!  The area is also known for its Merlot-based Côte de Blaye appellation wines.

History & Culture in Blaye

The town of Blaye has been a port since ancient times, being responsible for the export of produce such as grain and red wine. As the town is situated slightly higher on the east side of the estuary its strategic importance was quickly recognised by the Romans, and then later on during the wars against the English, who actually burned down the citadel in 1352. It was again to become important during the French Was of Religion.

The town was formerly known as Blaye-et-Sainte-Luce and was only renamed Blaye as recently as June 1961.

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Sights & Attractions in Blaye

With the Citadel being the obvious attraction in this area, you should also consider taking the ferry across the river to visit Fort Medoc. This was one of the trio of forts that were erected to defend Bordeaux against attacks via the estuary.

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Events in Blaye

Each spring, the wonderful event Printemps des Vins is held within the Citadel of Blaye. It consists of numerous events and wine tastings, and brings together winegrowers, tourists and locals for this fun event.

Every Wednesday and Saturday the Citadel hosts a market where visitors can buy local produce, including the renowned asparagus of Blayais. The soil in the Blaye region is particularly good for growing asparagus, as well as grapes of course! March to May is prime asparagus season and definitely the best time to make your purchase. Seafood from the Gironde estuary is also common and very fresh, but the area is also known for its delicious selection of fruit and pralines!

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Things to Do in Blaye

Taking a walk around the citadel is probably the best way to experience it, it is free to enter and you can easily wile away a few hours enjoying the serene calm, beautiful views and lush landscapes around you. It is also possible to get a guided tour of the citadel which lets your explore the underground passages. Further information and booking are available at the Blaye Tourist Office.

If you are not keen to walk around then the is a fantastic small tourist train that can take you round and give you a guided tour!

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Where to Stay in Blaye

Although it is not possible to stay within the Citadel itself there is of accommodation is within the town of Blaye, a lot of which is in beautiful 18th century buildings. 

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