On the right bank of the Gironde Estuary 56km north of Bordeaux lies the old Citadelle de Blaye which historically guarded the main entry point to Bordeaux.
In ancient times Blaye (Blavia) was a port of the Santones. Tradition states that the Frankish hero Roland was buried in its basilica, which was on the site of the citadel. It was early an important stronghold which played an important part in the wars against the English (who burnt it in 1352) and the French Wars of Religion (when it was the site of a Spanish naval victory in 1593). The duchess of Berry was imprisoned in its fortress in 1832-1833.
The town was formerly named Blaye-et-Sainte-Luce and was renamed Blaye in June 1961.
The town has a citadel built by Vauban on a rock beside the river, and embracing in its ancient ruins of an old Gothic château. The latter contains the tomb of Charibert II, king of Aquitaine, and son of Clotaire II. Blaye is also defended by the Fort Paté on an island in the river and the Fort Médoc on its left bank, both of the 17th century.
The citadel of Blaye, its city walls, the Fort Paté and the Fort Médoc (the latter in nearby Cussac-Fort-Médoc) were listed in 2008 as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, as part of the “Fortifications of Vauban” group.