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pere f d'aix de chaise

Île-d'Aix

Île-d'Aix is a small island in the Atlantic, off the west coast of France. It is also the name of the commune of the Charente-Maritime département which occupies the territory of the island. It has a population of only 186 (1999) and an area of about 300 acres (1.2 km²). It is a popular place for tourist day-trips during the summer months.

Location

Île-d'Aix is located at the mouth of the Charente River, between l'Ile d'Oléron and the coast of mainland France. The island is also close to Fort Boyard.

History

During the Roman period, it seems the island was connected to the continent at low tide. She finally took her current shape around 1500.

In 1067, Isembert de Châtelaillon gave the island to the order of Cluny. A small convent was established, which depended on St Martin in Ile de Re.

At the end of the 12th century, France and England fought for the possession of the island. Until 1286, the island was located at the boundary between the French and the English "Saintonge", formed by the estuary of the Charente River. During the Hundred years war, Aix became English for about 15 years.

In the 16th century, during the French Wars of Religion, the island became Catholic and then Protestant.

In 1665, the nearby Rochefort was established as a strategic harbour for the Kingdom, prompting many fortification to be built in the area. Vauban built numerous fortifications on the island, which were completed in 1704 by Ferry.

During the Seven Years' War (1756–1763) the English captured the island and destroyed its ramparts. The fortifications were then rebuilt by several French officers, including Pierre Choderlos de Laclos, the author of Les Liaisons dangereuses.

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 famously visited the island in 1808 and gave directions to reinforce the fortifications. He ordered the construction of a house for the commander of the stronghold (today's "Musee Napoleon"), and the construction of Fort Liedot, named after a colonel killed in the Russian campaign.

In 1815, from July 12th to 15th, Napoleon also spent his last days in France at Ile d'Aix, after the defeat at Waterloo, in an attempt to force a Royal Navy blockade to escape to the United States. Realizing the impossibility to accomplish this plan, he wrote a letter to the British regent. and finally surrendered to HMS Bellerophon, which took him to Plymouth before transferring him to Saint Helena.

Sights

Located on the island is the large Fort Liédot which functioned as a military prison from the early 19th century to the 1960s. The Algerian independentist and future president Ben Bella was imprisoned there from 1956 to 1962, together with other FLN militants such as Khider and Aït Ahmed.

Transportation

Access to the island is provided by a ferry that leaves several times a day year round from Fouras just east of the island, or from La Rochelle, and Oléron, during the summer months. Cars (except for service vehicles) are prohibited on the island, affording more tranquility. People move around on foot or by bicycle. Horse carriages are also available to circle the island.

Notes

External links

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