The secret tunnels of Belle Isle Fortress

Today I discovered these hidden tunnels beneath the fortress. Some of the first inhabitants of the island of Belle-île-en-Mer, where I'm staying till the end of January, were Benedictine monks who founded a priory in the 7th century. In the 9th century the island was devastated by the Vikings.

In 1029 the Count of Cornouaille Alain Canhiart entrusted the island to the recently founded Sainte-Croix de Quimperlé Abbey. As it was directly under the authority of the Pope, Belle-Ile benefited from the protection of the duchy of Brittany. Belle-Île was governed by monks until the 16th century when incessant attacks by pirates forced them to relinquish their fiefdom to the king, or rather to the regent Catherine de' Medici, who gave the land in vassalage to the Gondi family - then owners of the Pays de Retz. The land, however, remained under the heavy hand of the regime until the French Revolution.

In 1549, King Henri II decided to take on the pirates once and for all. He sent the duke François de Rohan to Belle-île to erect a fortresse fit for the kingdom of France. Later on, Nicolas Fouquet improved the defense systems. For many years, the citadel served as a prison. During WWII, the Germans took possession of it. At the end of these hostilities, the citadel was eventually purchased by a private entity and now is a museum.

The tunnels were pitch-black and I had to light my way with the intermittent flash of my camera to make sure I didn't fall down a well or something. Spider webs brushed across my face. But like Indian Jones and the Temple of Doom, I persevered! My next update will be in two weeks when I make my way to Rome for six weeks. I plan on staying near the Vatican to aid in my research for my fourth novel CLUB OF ROME. I hope to attend live mass, or Papal Audience in St. Peter's Square Vatican. Take care!

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