- France, Atlantic Coast, La Rochelle, Rochefort, Royan, Island of Re, Island of Oleron, Charente, Estuary of Gironde - Tourism and Holiday Guide



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Site map - French Atlantic Coast - Lighthouses

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to discover

The lighthouse of Chassiron

The lighthouse of La Coubre

The lighthouse of Cordouan

To see, north to south

The "Marais Poitevin"

La Rochelle

Island of Ré

Island of Aix



Madame Island

Island of Oléron




La Tremblade


La Palmyre









To do


Boat trips





The market


Drives through the vineyards

Drives through the marshes

Drives through the forest


To know

The Romanesque Art


The Citadel of Brouage

The Citadel of Blaye

The lighthouses

The forest of La Coubre

The marshes

The "Marais Poitevin"

The carrelets

The ostreiculture

Vine and wines

To taste






Sea food

"Terroir" products

The restaurants


The Lighthouses of the Atlantic Coast

Do not miss an opportunity to visit a lighthouse, it is worth the effort of climbing the steps which lead to the top and to be rewarded with magnificent panoramic views.

The visit to a lighthouse is not only an outward look over the sea but also a look back on the history of navigation and on the people who made progress happen.

The necessity, for the man who navigated, to recognise the coast, day and night, led to the construction of lighthouses and to the building of landmarks along the coast. History tells us that lighthouses have been built since ancient times.

The most famous ancient lighthouse is the one which was built by the Greeks on the island of Pharos, near Alexandria, in the third century before Christ.

It was one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. It is the origin of the word "phare".

Much closer to us, the 17th Century was a very active period in our region for the construction of lighthouses with the completion of the lighthouse of Cordouan in 1610 and the building under Louis XIV of the lighthouse of Chassiron on the island of Oléron and the lighthouse "Phare des Baleines" (Lighthouse of Whales) on the island of Ré.

The 19th Century brought important technical innovations as regards the emission of light. Augustin Fresnel invented the lens which bears his name and the optical system which allowed a considerable increase of the light power. It was experimented for the first time at the lighthouse of Cordouan in 1823. Fresnel's inventions have been perfected and are always used.

Panels to be seen in the lighthouse of Chassiron

The lighting system is obviously an essential part of the lighthouse. The mode of lighting of the lighthouses in the past used fires made from wood or coal, oil lamps and petroleum before switching to electricity in the 20th Century.

Further to their electrification, the lighthouses have been automated. The lighthouse keepers have often been replaced by automatic systems. The lighthouse of Cordouan was only electrified in 1951. There are still lighthouse keepers at Cordouan.

the lighthouse of Chassiron

Today, the department of Charente-Maritime and the entry of the estuary of Gironde offer a large variety of lighthouses, both in geographic situation and by the type of construction.
The main ones are open to visit. Easy access and car parks have been developed to welcome the numerous visitors during the summer period. The lighthouses are very popular with tourists. This is totally justified. It is the simplest way to see the coast "from above ".
Besides, the ascent to the top, counting the steps is a good physical and intellectual exercise. And finally, the reward is the magnificent panoramic views.

As regards the landmarks, the best example is that of the steeple, painted in white and black, of the church of Ars-en-Ré.

The lighthouse Phare des Baleines at the West end of the island of Ré

The legend says that its name comes from whales which ran aground on the surrounding coast. Its construction began in 1849 and it was put into service in 1854. It is 57 metres high and 250 steps enable one to reach the top.

The lighthouse of Chassiron at the north end of the island of Oléron

The construction of the current lighthouse began in 1834 and it was put into service in 1836. It is a cylindrical tower, very austere, 46 metres high. The black stripes were painted in 1926 to distinguish it from the lighthouse of the Phare des Baleines.
To know more about it

The lighthouse of the island of Aix ( Photo at the head of page)

The lighthouse of the Island of Aix is original because it is made of two cylindrical towers started in 1889 and 1906. The height of the towers is 25 metres. It is not open to visitors.

The lighthouse of La Coubre

It is located in the north of the estuary of Gironde, on the Pointe de La Coubre.
The current lighthouse was built in 1905. It is a tower, 64 metres high, widened at the bottom. It is white and red and it distinguishes itself by a small projection in the construction halfway up, at the level of the change of colour. This part is equipped with a secondary light.
To know more about it

The lighthouse of Terre-Nègre

The current lighthouse, in the municipality of Saint-Palais-sur-Mer, between the town and the Pointe de la Grande Côte, was put into service in 1838. It is a cylindrical tower 26 metres high, above a house. It is not open to visitors
To know more about it

The lighthouse of Saint-Georges-de-Didonne

The lighthouse of Saint-Georges-de-Didonne, built on the cliff of Vallieres has not been in service since 1969. It is open to visitors during the summer.

to know more about it

The lighthouse of Cordouan

Located at the entry of the Gironde, the lighthouse of Cordouan is the most original lighthouse.
Original because of its isolation, it is built in the sea, on a rocky island which is uncovered at low tide.
Original in its concept, because it was conceived for the functions of lighthouse, royal residence and church.
There were many descriptions used to characterise it, the Dean of Lighthouses, the Oldest in Europe, Versailles of the Sea, the King of Lighthouses, Lighthouse of Kings, …
In 1862, it was one of the first two French monuments, with Notre-Dame de Paris, to be classified as an "Historical Monument".
To know more about it

the lighthouse of
 La Coubre

the lighthouse
of Terre-Nègre

the lighthouse of Saint-Georges-de-Didonne

the lighthouse of Cordouan

Annonces Bernezac

Airotel Oléron
Hôtel de Plein Air, proche du Château d'Oléron et de la mer, dans un parc boisé.

Village de Vacances entre mer et campagne
Montendre-les-Pins, à proximité du littoral et des vignobles.

Camping Les Pins
A Saint-Palais-sur-Mer, dans un endroit de charme.

Bonne Anse Chalets

Des résidences mobiles de standing situées dans une pinède de 18ha à 600m de la plage.  Sur place, vaste complexe aquatique.

Palmyre Loisirs
Village de plein air 4 étoiles. Univers de sports et de jeux, dans une pinède ensoleillée.

Palmyre Loisirs

Parc Club Les Charmettes
La Palmyre, tout a été préparé pour que vos vacances soient le reflet de la détente et de la liberté.

Ma Maison de Mer
Chambres d'Hôtes à Saint-Palais-sur-Mer, au cœur du quartier résidentiel. Toute l'année.

Hôtel Résidence de Rohan
Dans un cadre unique, à 3 km de Royan, accès direct à la plage.

Hôtel Résidence Les Flots
Saint-Palais-sur-Mer, toute l'année, chambres, studios, appartements.

Eldapi Vacances
Camping à Saint-Augustin-sur-Mer, entre Saint-Palais et La Palmyre, au bord de la forêt de La Coubre.

Mer & Soleil Oléron
Village Club de Vacances
, à deux pas de l'une des plus belles plages de l'Ile d'Oléron.

Camping Les Vignes

Saint-Augustin-sur-Mer, au calme, à 10 minutes à travers bois de la plage de La Grande Côte.

Activ' Loisirs Les Pins
Ronce-les-Bains, dans un site extraordinaire de verdure avec 20 km de sable fin dont quatre zones surveillées et une zone pour naturistes.

Camping l'Abri Côtier
A proximité de l'île Madame, larges emplacements entourées de haies, calme, détente.

Le Clos du Pertuis

Chambres d'Hôtes à Marsilly, à deux pas de La Rochelle, deux dans un cadre exceptionnel.

Le Petit Poucet

Restaurant à Saint-Palais-sur-Mer, La Grande Côte, dans un cadre unique, menus, fruits de mer, carte.

Le Logis Yukadi Villages

Yukadi Village Le Logis à Saint-Palais-sur-Mer. Parc aquatique, environnement naturel, forêt de pins.

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