Fort du Portalet

Viewed from the Chemin de la Mâture

The Fort du Portalet is a fort in the Aspe valley in Bearn, French Pyrenees, built from 1842 to 1870.

It guards access to the Col du Somport and was built by order of Louis Philippe I to guard the border of the Pyrenees. Installed against a cliff overlooking the Gave d'Aspe, it faces the path of Masts.[1] Begun in 1842 and finished in 1870, the fort replaced an earlier structure further north.[2]

Capable of accommodating 400 men, the fort served as depot and barracks for the 18th Regiment of Infantry between 1871 and 1925. It then ceased to be used as a full-time military facility.

During World War II, the Vichy regime arrested and interned Léon Blum, Édouard Daladier, Paul Reynaud, Georges Mandel and Maurice Gamelin as political prisoners at the fort.[3] After the Riom Trials, Reynaud was transferred to German custody and held in Germany. Mandel was taken to Paris, where he was executed in 1944 by the Milice in retaliation for the assassination earlier that year of Philippe Henriot, a Vichy official, by the Resistance. After the war, Philippe Pétain, the head of the Vichy government, was imprisoned in the fort from 15 August to 16 November 1945.[4]

After the government abandoned the fort, it was bought by the local authorities in 1999. They are restoring it.


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Coordinates: 42°53′11″N 0°33′46″W / 42.886453°N 0.562727°W / 42.886453; -0.562727

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