The Ancient Fortress
All around France are ancient fortresses like this. Citadels they call them and they all have a similar look. Designed by the great military engineer Vauban they are a legacy of that French king who excites derision and admiration in equal measure, Louis XIV, the sun king. He thought himself the embodiment of greatness and built such master pieces as the palace of Versailles.
But he was also obsessed with protecting his growing European empire. He wanted fortresses around everything. Look at the coastlines of Normandy, Brittany, Gascony and the land borders with Spain, Italy, Germany, etc. There are dozens of great fortresses most of which were never attacked until the wars of the 20th century. Blaye has a great fortress. A fabulous subject to paint! And it hides a weird story that connects my pilgrimage to France and Spain and it’s heroes.