France: Lighthouses in Brittany

Whether they are built on the mainland or in the middle of the sea, lighthouses are part of the decor in Brittany and also form a great pride for the Breton population. The world’s largest number of lighthouses can be found along the Breton coast. No less than 52 lighthouses adorn the Breton coast. That is almost a third of the French lighthouses! Not surprising when you consider that Brittany has a coastline of almost 2700 km. The Finistère has the absolute record. Brest – Terre Océanes offers the possibility to get acquainted with the guards of the sea with the help of augmented reality: armed with a tourist guide and the app “Sur la route des phares” (On the way past the lighthouses). From Île Vierge to the Phare du Stiff, via the Pointe Saint-Mathieu and the Trézien lighthouse: 4 lighthouses that are open for viewing and an accompanying museum. Climb up and enjoy an endless view!

Lighthouse of Île Vierge – giant from granite

365 steps, not one less! A steep climb along the spiral staircase in the stairwell with its blue-green walls brings you to the top of the lighthouse at Plouguerneau, on Île Vierge. A natural stone lighthouse, not only the highest in Europe but in the whole world, made from the local Kersanton granite. As a reward for your climb you will see the bright white lighthouse lamp and from an altitude of 82.5 m you have an impressive view over the Pays des Abers. On arrival with the boat you feel that there is a change of guard, even though the lighthouse is working completely automatically today.

Open from April to October.
Tel.: +33 (0)2 98 04 05 43

Saint-Mathieu lighthouse – guardian of the end of the world

Set course towards the west! On the Pointe de Saint-Mathieu, near Plougonvelin, you will await an atmosphere from earlier times. Here the Saint-Mathieu lighthouse rises from the ruins of an old abbey. 163 steps bring you upstairs, where a guide talks about the history and role of this beautiful building, dating back to 1835. His light beam guides sailors through the Narrow of Brest, a difficult route when it storms. In calm weather you have a spectacular view from the Pointe du Raz to Île de Ouessant! The Pointe Saint-Mathieu is also a pleasant starting point for hikes, for example on the GR34 coastal path.

Open all year.
Tel.: +33 (0)2 98 89 00 17

Lighthouse of Trézien – guardian of the Four

The lighthouse of Trézien differs from others because it is near the water but surrounded by land. He stands at Plouarzel, and leads the ships as they sail through the Chenal du Four, the gully between the Ile de Béniguet and the mainland. The tower is built of granite from Aber-Ildut and Lampaul-Plouarzel and is located 500 m from the coast, not far from the Pointe du Corsen, where the Channel and the Atlantic meet. 182 steps take you to the entrance, resting on collar arches, at 37.2 m. In the distance the islands of the Archipelago de Molène and Ouessant can be seen.

Open from April to September.
Tel.: +33 (0)2 98 38 30 72

More information: www.tourismeplouarzel.fr (FR) De

Phare du Stiff – the oldest

Vauban is the designer of this lighthouse. The Phare du Stiff, on the island of Ouessant, consists of two towers: in one is the lamp, in the other the stairs. The lighthouse has been serving since 1700, making it the oldest in Brittany. “Le Stiff” makes its light shine from a steep cliff, 90 m above the sea. Recently the tower has been refurbished and now he drops his light beam over the Mer d’Iroise. An interesting exhibition has been arranged about the history of the tower. Also nice to look at are the lighthouse keeper houses and an exhibition of the organization that is committed to the protection of a special bee species, the black Breton bee. Another guardian of the island of Ouessant!

Open from April to September.
Tel.: +33 (0)2 98 48 85 83

More information: www.ot-ouessant.fr (FR)

A museum that provides clarification about lighthouses and beacons

Complicated that maritime beacon … Anyone who experiences this and wants to know what it’s like, really has to go to Ouessant, to the museum for lighthouses and beacons. It lies at the foot of the Le Créac’h lighthouse and you can see the huge lamp of the lighthouse, as well as old oil lamps, Fresnel lenses, electric arc lamps – a total of 800 objects giving an idea of 300 years of technical development. Scale models, photographs and film material give a picture of the construction of a number of famous lighthouses and the life of the lighthouse keeper. Stories that enforce respect!

NYX

Open from April to September.
Tel.: +33 (0)2 98 48 85 83

More information: www.ot-ouessant.fr (FR)

With the kayak to the lighthouse of Croix

Opposite the island of Bréhat is the lighthouse of Croix. With a sea kayak you paddle between the pink rocks and cormorants to the 13 meter high lighthouse. From the tower the view of the coastline and the island of Bréhat is exceptional. Once docked, the guide gives a unique insight into this lighthouse!

Sleeping in a lighthouse

In the lighthouse of Kerbel, close to Port-Louis, you will be welcomed at a height of 25 meters. After 120 steps you can enjoy a panoramic view over the bay of Quiberon, Lorient and Groix. A studio with mahogany parquet and designer furniture is furnished in the former fire room. Even from your bed you can enjoy the panorama.

Admire the sunset from the Eckmühl lighthouse

At the point of Cornouaille is the lighthouse of Eckmühl, which in exceptional cases opens its doors at night. After climbing the 290 steps you reach the 56 meter higher terrace. From here you have a breathtaking view. The picturesque colors of the setting sun, the bay of Audierne that meanders along the coast, the first fishing boats to sail .. Above your head the lantern starts with its light show! A special experience!

By Bazaar79 – CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5401402

Self-guided along the lighthouses

The destination Brest-Terre Océanes offers the possibility to get acquainted with the guards of the sea with the aid of augmented reality: armed with a tourist guide and the app “Sur la route des phares” (On the way past the lighthouses). Of course you can go by car to follow this route, but you can also combine it with a nice bike ride. Several sections of the “V5” cycle route run parallel to the lighthouse route. If you want to admire the lighthouses from the water as a real navigator, you can board Archipel Excursions. You sail through the mythical landscapes of the Mer d’Iroise past six lighthouses at sea (formerly called the “hell” by lighthouse keepers, because of the dangerous and lonely existence they led there). En route we stop for a picnic on the island of Molène and a snack on the island of Sein.