Swimming at 60,000 euros, secret beach: everything you don’t know about Fort Brégançon

This year again, the president has chosen to spend his holidays in the summer residence of the presidents. The place, rich in history, shelters mysteries which lend to smile or astonishment.

Emmanuel Macron has been on vacation at Fort Brégançon since the end of July. This Provençal building, perched on a rocky peak several tens of meters high, with a breathtaking view of the sea, has seen all the French presidents pass by since the 1960s. BFMTV.com offers you some anecdotes about this place full of story.

• A senator dismissed by simple letter

It was President Charles de Gaulle who inaugurated the long presidential tradition in Brégançon. In 1964, the General slept for the first time in this bourgeois residence built around a quirky garden, between olive trees, cypresses and mimosas.

Despite a nightmarish night, between mosquitoes and a bed too small for his 92 meter, Charles de Gaulle decided to make it a presidential residence in 1968. Problem: this meant giving leave to the then occupier, Senator Bellanger, who paid rent to the French State for this property which belongs to the Ministry of Defence.

A great lover of the Mediterranean, the parliamentarian does not skimp to improve the old building, by building a dam with his personal funds and by having water and electricity installed. It was also an opportunity to receive all the political elite of the time.

But once the decision was taken by General de Gaulle, Robert Bellanger will have his leave notified by a simple letter, a process considered inelegant at the time, according to Point.

• Neighbor of Luxembourg

To improve access to the fort, the services of the Élysée decided to build a road in 1968, where before, visitors had to content themselves with taking a simple track. The engineers working on the file then realize that it will have to cross the lands of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, whose residence which adjoins the fort had obtained the status of extraterritoriality after the Second World War.

Proof that the cars change country for only a few meters, a terminal indicating “L” as Luxembourg is always at the entrance to the foreign domain, note Paris Match.

• 200 steps to a secret beach

A fan of sunbathing, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing takes advantage of the fort’s beach to multiply his swims. Problem: he finds it too exposed to the gaze of the curious and therefore decides to have another built, dug into the rocks at the back of the fort, as the story goes. Point. However, the breaststroke must be earned: you have to descend 200 steps to reach it.

Nicolas Sarkozy also finds this access too complicated and prefers the property of his wife Carla Bruni, in Cap Nègre, a few kilometers away.

The entrance to Fort Brégançon, photographed in June 2014.
The entrance to Fort Brégançon, photographed in June 2014. © Bertrand LANGLOIS / AFP

• Rescued from the flames

In the summer of 2017, firefighters had to deal with a very large fire a few hundred meters from Fort Brégançon, as reported The world. The vines of Domaine de Brégançon, which have been producing wine for decades, then saw hundreds of hectares go up in smoke, just a few days after the start of the summer season.

With more than 1,000 people evacuated, the firefighters did their utmost to save the land and avoid any disaster on the presidential property. With success: Emmanuel Macron will spend his first presidential vacation there without incident.

• 60,000 euros to secure a swim at sea

With the development of telephoto lenses, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing beach is also becoming very accessible to the eye. François Hollande has a bad memory of photos published in the middle of the sea. What push Emmanuel Macron to wish for more discretion by building an above-ground swimming pool in 2018.

One of the official reasons put forward to justify this work is the cost of bathing. If the president and his wife go down to the beach, it is indeed necessary to count 60,000 euros to secure the area using the services of divers and boats of the national gendarmerie. “When you bathe, you tell yourself the cost of the bath is high”, recognizes his predecessor François Hollande in the book Le fort of Brégançon. Secret history and behind the scenes of the holidays by Guillaume Daret.

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