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French Culture – Fort Boyard Posted by on Aug 20, 2019 in Culture, History, Vocabulary

One of my favorite TV shows when I lived in France was Fort Boyard. Part Survivor and part Fear Factor (but better!), Fort Boyard is a French reality program / game show that features a team of contestants (since the early ’90’s mostly made up of famous people from sports, pop culture, etc.) competing to raise money for charity.

Le vrai Fort Boyard / The real Boyard Fort

Fort Boyard (l’émission de télé / the TV show) is filmed in a real fort … the fortified Fort Boyard located of the west coast of France. Built under Napoleon Bonaparte in the first half of the 1800’s, Fort Boyard has served as a garrison, a prison, and since 1990 as a filming location.

Fort Boyard, l’émission / Boyard, the TV show

There are a few main components to the show.

First, contestants must work together through a series of épreuves physiques (physical challenges) to recover a number of clés (keys) that will open the salle du trésor (the treasure room). Contestants who don’t complete their épreuve in time find themselves imprisoned!

After the hunt for keys, contestants must complete another series of épreuves, this time to gather des indices (clues)  that will help them release the trésor (treasure). These later épreuves often require people to eat disgusting things or tackle some fear.

During a duel of wits against the “Maître du Temps” (the Master of Time), contests can earn clues that they missed and/or additional time in the salle du trésor

And finally the salle du trésor … where contestants must decode the secret word from the indices they have found and collect as many “Boyards” (mystical coins) as they can before they get locked in.

This short (6 minute) highlights clip will let you experience all the adventure en résumé (summarized).

Fort Boyard, Parole de Chat / Cat Talk

One of my favorite YouTube channels featured Fort Boyard in a recent post. Parole de Chat (Cat Talk) features videos of des chats (cats) doing cat-things … but dubbed by a very funny Frenchman. Many of the videos feature English subtitles which make them a great way to practice your French skills while having a serious laugh. The video below perfectly captures they interaction of contestants on Fort Boyard … if the contestants where house cats!


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Photo of Fort Boyard © Rémi Jouan, CC-BY-SAGNU Free Documentation LicenseWikimedia Commons

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About the Author: Tim Hildreth

Lise: Maybe not always. Paris has ways of making people forget. / Jerry: Paris? No, not this city. It's too real and too beautiful. It never lets you forget anything. It reaches in and opens you wide, and you stay that way. / An American in Paris