April 10, 2005
Since antiquity, the site of the fort has been a place of worship, with a Roman temple dedicated to Mercury. This was replaced by one of the first churches in the town, Saint Michael's Church but was abandoned around the 6th century. Among the ruins, the more modest church of Saint Laurent was built. In 1550, Henry the 2nd ordered the construction of a circular tower in Saint Laurent chapel. Around 1680, Louis 14th commissioned Vauban to construct military fortifications in the town and in Fort Carré (that’s when the fort got its name – square fortress). The construction was specially adapted to military needs. In 1880, the County of Nice was attached to France. As the border was now further away and Antibes was no longer in the front line, it no longer held a strategic position. However, Fort Carré continued to protect the harbor of Antibes and still was used in the first and second World War.
Today Fort Carré is simply a nice star-pointed castle offering fantastic seascape views from its grounds. Access the fort from Antibes by walking the length of the perimeter of Port Vauban, up the coastal footpath and around the coast to double gates that mark the entry to the nature conservation area in which the fort is set. Access to the conservation area/botanical garden is free; here visitors can see a magnificent flora. A pathway winds up the hill and brings you to the fort entrance.
To visit the fort, you have to take a mandatory guided tour in French and English (runs every thirty minutes, first tour 10:15am, last tour 5:30pm in summer and 4pm in winter). Admission €5 adults; €2.50 students. If you stay in Juan-les-Pins a week and are going to visit several other museums, I would suggest investing €10 in a combined ticket, valid 7 consecutive days for entry to Picasso, Archaeology, Peynet, Napoleon Museum, and Fort Carré.
From journal Sounds of Music on the French Riviera Shores