Esseillon Barrier - Fort Charles-Felix

Fort Charles-Felix

Signs recommend against visiting this fort due to danger.  Not only is the fort next to a cliff, the fort was partially destroyed and in places appears to be on the verge of collapse.  The warning is entirely reasonable, but I and others have visited at our own risk.

Fort Charles-Felix was the most compact of the forts and was garrisoned by 150 men, intended to defend a bridle path to the village of Aussios.  As part of the treaty that transferred the area to France, Napoleon III agreed to destroy the forts, but he never intended to fulfill his obligations.  This, the smallest and least important fort, was only partially destroyed and even then in such a way that it could potentially be put back into service if needed.  The destruction at times make it difficult to make full sense of the fort, but in other places it is like walking into a cut-out model!  It is a truly unique experience.

In the model pictured above, the visible opening is the gate.  Not shown in the open area behind the gate is a ramp.  Behind the open area is the two story casemated structure.

Fort Charles-Felix From Fort Marie-Christine

Fort Charles Felix from near Fort Victor-Emmanuel

Entrance from the Parking Area

First we'll walk down the trail in the left-center of the panorama for a peek then return and climb through the tempting hole in the wall visible at right-center.

The walls have been lowered, which helps make some sense of the drawbridge to nowhere.  At right-center of the panorama you can see the abutment that the bridge rested on.  See photos below.



Returning to the inviting hole in the wall, we enter the multi-story polygonal portion of the fort.  The damage reveals very nicely an interior view that you are unlikely to find anywhere else.

You can get a good idea of the overhead protection in this view.  The lower level is filled with rubble from above.  Although it may appear that we can climb up to the upper level, it is more difficult than it appears, so let's...

...find the stairs.

Upper Level - 360 Degree View

At right is the damaged area that we have previously seen with no roof.

From the top you can see that the walls once continued higher, and it appears that a sloped roof covered this area.  Like Redoubt Marie-Therese, rooftop mortars could be installed, and perhaps this is the location.  At right you can see the ramp to the gate - You can consult the model to get a good understanding of where we are.

Fort Victor-Emmanuel is visible just above the gate.  On the opposite side of the panorama, Fort Marie-Christine sits atop the cliff.

Copyright 2015, John Hamill

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