Petit Bé and Grand Bé Forts in Saint-Malo
©Petit Bé and Grand Bé Forts, Saint-Malo|Thibault Poriel
Culture and heritageTHE 4 VAUBAN FORTS

The 4 Vauban forts

Today, Saint-Malo still has traces from the Vauban era. Built at the end of the 17th century on the order of Louis XIV, four forts watch over the privateer city.


The National Fort, a former Royal Fort, was built in 1689 on an island close to the ramparts of Saint-Malo by the engineer Siméon Garangeau based on plans by Vauban. The fort was built to protect the harbour of Saint-Malo. In 1817 it was the site of an important duel between the French privateer Robert Surcouf and 12 Prussian officers. Later, in 1944, 380 residents of Saint-Malo were imprisoned there and deprived of food for six days by the Germans.

Tip: To find out if the fort is open, see if the French flag is raised!


Protected with 19 canons and two mortars, the Fort du Petit Bé housed up to 160 men in times of war. The Fort consists of a huge platform, a building on three levels and two bastions. If the weather is on your side, you can visit the fort on your own or as a guided tour.

If you have the opportunity (and particularly the possibility!), don’t hesitate to go to Fort de la Conchée. Constructed by Garangeau according to Vauban’s defence plan, Fort de la Conchée (1692-1695) is considered one of Vauban’s masterpieces. The view from the fort is exceptional. You can visit it subject to certain conditions, on your own or guided and at low tide.


Built on an islet, Fort du Guesclin can only be accessed at low tide. In 1026, a castle was built flanked by three towers and one keep, attributed to a constable of Guesclin.

Between 1757 and 1759, the old construction was razed to the ground and Vauban had a fort built to protect the coast from the English.

Having lost its military purpose, the fort was then sold to private individuals who added two houses on top, and Léo Ferré lived here until 1968.

Abandoned, the fort was once again bought by a family who have maintained this superb residence ever since.