Digest>Archives> Jul/Aug 2022

Cordouan Lighthouse

France’s Oldest Lighthouse Reopens to the Public


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The 213-foot-tall Cordouan Lighthouse as it was ...

After nearly ten years of restoration work, the Cordouan Lighthouse, the oldest lighthouse in France and the first lighthouse in the world to be built in the open ocean, is finally accessible again for tours, but only when the tides permit.

Completed in 1611, the Cordouan Lighthouse sits a little over four miles offshore at the entrance to the Gironde Estuary in southwest France. It was extended in height and renovated between 1786 and 1790, and in 1823 it became the first lighthouse in the world to have a Fresnel lens installed in the lantern.

The lavishly decorated interior of the lighthouse, includes a chapel, living quarters for the keepers, and an opulent apartment that was built for King Louis XIV, should he have decided to stop by for a visit.

Although the lighthouse is automated, it is still staffed by four lighthouse keepers, partly to prevent vandalism, but mainly to maintain the structure and welcome the over 20,000 visitors who show up annually. However, the lighthouse will only be open to the public from May until October. Visitors will be allowed to climb the 301 stairs to the top where they can enjoy spectacular views.

This story appeared in the Jul/Aug 2022 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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