Fort Boyard was an oval-shaped (68 meters long and 31 meters wide and 20 meter high) fort and temporary military prison located between the Île-d'Aix and the Île d'Oléron in the Pertuis d'Antioche on the west coast of France.
Building started in 1801 and was completed in 1857. At the center is a yard and the ground floor provided stores and quarters for the men and officers. The floor above contained casemates for the emplacements of guns and further quarters. . The project was suspended in 1809 with construction resumed in 1837, under Louis-Philippe, following renewed tensions with the United Kingdom. The fortifications were completed in 1857, with sufficient room for a garrison of 250 men. However, by the time of its completion, the range of cannons had significantly increased, making the fort unnecessary for national defense.
After 1871, Fort Boyard was briefly used as a military prison, before being abandoned at the beginning of the 20th century. As time went by, the fort slowly crumbled and deteriorated into the sea as it was left unmaintained. In 1950 it was made a listed building, and in 1961 was sold to Charente Maritime Regional Council. It has been the filming location of both the French and international versions of the TV gameshow of the same name since 1990.
Prison Island Swims
Fort Boyard is one of the 8 open water swims of the Octad of Open Water Swims or Prison Island Swims that includes the following open water swims around formerly well-guarded isolated prison islands. Robben Island, Alcatraz Island, Spike Island and Rottnest Island are now 21st century sites better known for challenging open water swims with tricky currents and surrounding marine life. Convicts of the past have given way to contemporary open water swimming traditionalists and wetsuit-clad triathletes and swimmers.
- Le Château d’If (France), a fortress and former prison) located on the island of If in the Mediterranean Sea in southeastern France
- Fort Boyard (France), an oval-shaped fort and military prison located between the Île-d'Aix and the Île d'Oléron in the Pertuis d'Antioche on the west coast of France
- Devil's Island (French Guiana), is 14 km (9 miles) off the coast of French Guiana in South America and a well-known location of the French penal system and a leper colony
- Île de Gorée (Senegal), known as the location of the House of Slaves located off the coast of Senegal
- Robben Island, the former isolated prison home of Nelson Mandella and other South Africans 7.5 kilometers off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa.
- Alcatraz Island, the former isolated prison home of Al Capone and other celebrated American criminals 1.5 miles from Aquatic Park in San Francisco Bay in California, U.S.A.
- Spike Island (Irish: Inis Píc), the former isolated prison home of infamous immates 2 kilometers off the coast in Cobh Harbour, Ireland
- Rottnest Island, the finish of a 19.7 km Rottnest Channel Swim west of Perth, Western Australia was used as an Aboriginal prison between 1838 and 1931 where Aboriginal men and boys were imprisoned