Fort du Portalet

Fort du Portalet

Fort du Portalet is located in the French province of Bearn in the French Pyrenees. It's construction began on the 22nd of July, 1842 by the orders of the French king Louis Philippe I and was completed after his abdication.


Location: Bearn, French Pyrenees Map

Constructed: 1842- 1870

Altitude: 699 meters

Capacity: 400


History of Fort du Portalet

Fort du Portalet fortress is made up of three areas of upper fort, living quarters for officers along with barracks for soldiers and gallery that connects these two main areas. It was designed to guard the pass of Col du Somport (also known as Aspe Pass and Canfranc Pass) that leads to Spain in the South. The soldiers stationed here participated in the skirmish with the Spanish soldiers on at least two occasions, in 1875 and 1876. The fort was abandoned as a military fortification in 1914 and it was subsequently transferred to a religious order from Bordeaux.


With the invasion of the Nazi Germany in 1940 collaborator Vichy regime turned this citadel into a prison that contained such political figures as former Primer Minister of France Léon Blum, Prime Minister Édouard Daladier, GeneralMaurice Gamelin, journalist, politician and member of the French Resistance Georges Mandel and lawyer and politician Paul Reynaud. Ironically after the France was liberated by the Allies Fort du Portalet became a prison for Chief of Staff Philippe Pétain, a hero of Battle of Verdun during World War I, who collaborated with the Nazi government of Adolf Hitler. He was imprisoned here between 15 August and 16 November 1945. His death sentence for treason was later changed to life in prison by the orders of President Charles de Gaulle. The castle was abandoned again in 1962 until 1999 when local Aspe Valley Commune acquired it and began its restoration.