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Fort Saint-André and Les Invalides

phrase en latin inscrite sur les murs de la tour des masques.

In the 17th century, Fort Saint-André became a branch of Les Invalides. But why and how? Let us tell you the story...


In the 1670s, King Louis XIV founded the Hôtel Royal des Invalides in Paris. Its purpose? To welcome and provide shelter for soldiers damaged by war, who could no longer serve, were without family and abandoned.

But the Hôtel soon became too cramped to accommodate all the applicants. So 14 companies detached from the Hôtel Royal des Invalides were created. One of them moved to Fort Saint-André!

Graffiti représentant la croix de malte.
Graffiti représentant la croix de Malte.

© Antoinette Gorioux / CMN

Le choix du Fort

But why Fort Saint-André?

There are several reasons for this choice:

  • Fort Saint-André is located in a border zone. Indeed, the fort stands opposite Avignon, a city which, at the time, was on papal territory.
  • It was a crossing point for military troops in transit.
  • Its location is strategic: the fort is situated in the Rhône valley, on the road to Spain, with which France is often at war. Not to mention its proximity to Savoie, a territory not yet attached to the kingdom of France, as well as to the Italian territories.

For all these reasons, Fort Saint-André was a prime location for the kingdom of France.
In fact, the site was seldom used, housing 230 invalids between 1714 and 1784.

mannequin avec la tenue d'un soldat français.
Tenue d'un soldat français.

© Antoinette Gorioux / CMN

Daily life at the fort

What was daily life like?

The companies housed at thefort had to rub shoulders with the Benedictine community living atSaint-André Abbey , as well as the court of justice, which sat in the viguier's room.

What were the invalids' roles?

  • Guard the fortress by controlling the entrance
  • Watch over the prison, which housed temporary detainees (deserters, beggars, vagrants or future galley slaves...)
  • Help the town police maintain order during the Saint-André fair.

Unlike other strongholds that housed detached companies, the fort had no infirmary. However, its occupants could benefit from the services of the Avignon hospital.

Fort Saint-André thus provided an acceptable living environment for detached invalids, where they could regain a sense of social purpose.

From the French Revolution onwards, the invalids gradually left Fort Saint-André. The last ones left in 1793.

illustration représentant 3 soldats du du 16ème siècle handicapé
Les invalides du Fort


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