Cordouan lighthouse is located 7 kilometres at sea, near the mouth of the Gironde estuary in France. At a height of 67.5 metres, it is the tenth-tallest 'traditional lighthouse' in the world.

The Tour de Cordouan, the 'Patriarch of Lighthouses', is by far the oldest lighthouse in France. It was designed by leading Paris architect Louis de Foix, and is something of a Renaissance masterpiece, an amalgam of royal palace, cathedral and fort. Started in 1584 and finished in 1611, it still stands today. Three stories were added in the 18th century.

It was listed as a historic monument in 1862, and recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 2021.



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Founded: 1584-1611


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User Reviews

Liz Senser (15 months ago)
From start to finish an amazing experience! We booked with Phare de Siren. A well orchestrated crew from Captain on down. Highly recommend.
EDITH FIESTAS (2 years ago)
Fred H. (3 years ago)
Amazing moment! You take a boat trip to the sea then a boat-truck ride to the lighthouse. The boat floats then rides the bottom of the ocean. Depending of the tides, you may have to walk 10 minutes on the sand/bottom of the ocean at some point to reach the boat-truck, that was a unique experience! The lighthouse is beautiful, the last one inhabited in the world. The wardens are also giides, friendly and funny. A MUST DO!
Alex W (3 years ago)
Absolutely stunning! The most amazing lighthouse I've ever seen. Right out in the ocean and takes a while to get there by boat. The interior is beautiful and includes a chapel and king's room complete with fireplaces. The view from the top - the ocean in all directions is stunning. Not to be missed!
Emma Schouten (3 years ago)
Beautiful building that is so much more than your everyday lighthouse where you can only climb the steps and nothing more. Accessible only at low tide, getting here is quite the adventure. The rocks around the lighthouse are a good place to go looking for mussels, oysters, anemones and crabs, and the road that become accessible makes it seem as you though could walk all the way back to shore. The only thing that is less nice is that, once you are done and just want to go home, the boat ride back seems to take an eternity.
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Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Broch of Gurness

The Broch of Gurness is an Iron Age broch village. Settlement here began sometime between 500 and 200 BC. At the centre of the settlement is a stone tower or broch, which once probably reached a height of around 10 metres. Its interior is divided into sections by upright slabs. The tower features two skins of drystone walls, with stone-floored galleries in between. These are accessed by steps. Stone ledges suggest that there was once an upper storey with a timber floor. The roof would have been thatched, surrounded by a wall walk linked by stairs to the ground floor. The broch features two hearths and a subterranean stone cistern with steps leading down into it. It is thought to have some religious significance, relating to an Iron Age cult of the underground.

The remains of the central tower are up to 3.6 metres high, and the stone walls are up to 4.1 metres thick. The tower was likely inhabited by the principal family or clan of the area but also served as a last resort for the village in case of an attack.

The broch continued to be inhabited while it began to collapse and the original structures were altered. The cistern was filled in and the interior was repartitioned. The ruin visible today reflects this secondary phase of the broch's use.

The site is surrounded by three ditches cut out of the rock with stone ramparts, encircling an area of around 45 metres diameter. The remains of numerous small stone dwellings with small yards and sheds can be found between the inner ditch and the tower. These were built after the tower, but were a part of the settlement's initial conception. A 'main street' connects the outer entrance to the broch. The settlement is the best-preserved of all broch villages.

Pieces of a Roman amphora dating to before 60 AD were found here, lending weight to the record that a 'King of Orkney' submitted to Emperor Claudius at Colchester in 43 AD.

At some point after 100 AD the broch was abandoned and the ditches filled in. It is thought that settlement at the broch continued into the 5th century AD, the period known as Pictish times. By that time the broch was not used anymore and some of its stones were reused to build smaller dwellings on top of the earlier buildings. Until about the 8th century, the site was just a single farmstead.

In the 9th century, a Norse woman was buried at the site in a stone-lined grave with two bronze brooches and a sickle and knife made from iron. Other finds suggest that Norse men were buried here too.