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The little island of Aix -129 hectares - is interesting not only because of its Vauban fortification but also because it is the island where the time stopped at 5:49 am, May 5 1821.
It is the moment when in the far away Saint Helena island in the Atlantic the former Emperor Napoleon I dies and all the clocks of his last residence on the French soil are stopped.
Indeed after the battle of Waterloo the victorious English decide to exile Napoleon in a distant place for the fear of his coming back.
He arrives on the Island of Aix in July 1815 and after spending 4 nights in the house of the governor, a house that is now a Napoleon museum is taken on the board of the "Bellerophon" to the island of Saint Helena.
This was the second visit of the Emperor on the island the first taking place in 1808 when he visited the troops stationed on the island.
Indeed, the island has a military history due to its location.
After the construction of the Arsenal in Rochefort in 1666 an important system of defence was put in place for the protection of the navy from northern attacks. In 1674, Colbert the Finance Minister under Louis XIV entrusts Vauban with the island reinforcement. The Fort de la Rade on the south point of the island is build after the plans of Vauban between 1692-1704.
Nowadays the little island of Aix is a car free, bycicle heaven for tourists from around the world. It is accessible only by boat from the boarding "Pointe de la Fumée" in Fouras.
Open daily from 9:30 to 12pm and 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. (last admission 1 hour before closing)
From October 1 to 31:
Open daily, except Tuesday, from 9:30 to 12:00 and 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. (last admission 1 hour before closing)
November 1 to March 31:
Open daily, except Tuesday, from 9:30 to 12:00 and 2pm to 5 pm (last admission 1 hour before closing)