It was a fort located in the open sea to protect the port and the Camp of Boulogne.
It is not uncommon to come across visitors with cameras in hand on the beach at Le Portel. This vast space creates some very beautiful photos, but the star of the show, if we’re honest, has to be Fort de l’Heurt. This fort located out at sea braves the wind and the tide in front of the dazzled eyes of onlookers. You can stay forever admiring the sight and the dance of the waves relentlessly breaking around it.
The defence of the Camp of Boulogne
What is it doing out there? Who was it for? In 1803, Napoleon was set on invading England and had positioned his troops in Boulogne-sur-Mer. In order to protect his camp of 120,000 men and the harbour at Boulogne from attack from the British, he had Fort de la Crèche built off the coast at Wimereux and Fort de l'Heurt off the coast at Le Portal. Although the former was destroyed during a storm, the massive outline of the latter can still be seen today.
A weapon of war
The outer shell is made of cut stones from quarries in Ainghem and Wimille. The buttresses and cores which still stand today are made of rubble masonry bonded with cement or lime mortar. A semi-circular platform over 13 metres high housed a ring of 12 canons and 4 howitzers. 3 mortars were also located at the centre of the platform.
You probably already know the story. Bonaparte broke camp in 1805 and abandoned his dreams of conquest. Fort de l'Heurt was decommissioned during the Reformation. It was occupied during the Second World war by the German army and has not been spared by conflicts or the passing of time. However, it has remained standing and its ruins are a reminder of the trials and tribulations of history to this day.
Today, although Fort de l'Heurt features prominently on postcards, it is also a great destination for a walk. At the foot of the behemoth is one of the largest mussel beds on the Côte d'Opale. At low tide, both experienced and inexperienced collectors alike have a great time - whilst respecting the place and nature, of course!