18, rue Michel Bégon

17300 Rochefort - France

+33 6 24 52 48 06

7/7 days Telephone reception

Online Reservation

Best Price Guaranteed

Discover the most beautiful lighthouses in Charente-Maritime

The Cordouan Lighthouse

In the heart of Rochefort city
Studios from 19 to 25 m2
High quality services

The Cordouan lighthouse is located in the middle of the entrance to the Gironde estuary and faces Saint-Palais sur Mer and its most beautiful beaches. The oldest lighthouse in France stands alone and magnificent in the middle of the sea and remains today one of the few lighthouses still inhabited.

Identity sheet : 

Address : Phare de Cordouan – 33123 Le Verdon-sur-Mer

Height: 67.5 m

Number of steps: 301

Range: approximately 40 kilometres

Construction: As early as the 14th century, a fire tower was built on the island of Cordouan, then in the 16th century, a real lighthouse was built, with a height of 37 m, a real achievement for the time, to build such a structure on the open sea. It was in the 1780s that the Cordouan lighthouse took on its present form thanks to the architect Joseph Teulère.

Commissioning: evolution over the centuries, but "efficient" evolution thanks to the Fresnel lens in 1823.

The Cordouan lighthouse The Gironde Estuary's harbour, situated in the middle of the sea, still has all its functions as a guide for the many ships sailing on the Gironde Estuary. Discover this giant of the seas, but it won't be easy. Indeed, you will start this visit with a sea cruise, departing from Royan, to dock on the island of Cordouan and begin the visit proper.

Discover the emblematic Cordouan lighthouse

phare de cordouan basse mer

The Cordouan Lighthouse is not only a historic building, but also a UNESCO World Heritage Site

1 Cordouan, an island, a lighthouse, a history

UNESCO World Heritage Sites are a collection of natural or man-made places of great interest to culture and humanity. 

The Cordouan lighthouse is not like all the lighthouses we have mentioned so far. It stands in the middle of the Gironde estuary and in itself tells the story of man's architectural creation. Indeed, this masterpiece of architecture is not only magnificent, but it has met the challenges of being built in such a place.

Le phare de Cordouan haute mer

2 A visit to the Cordouan lighthouse, an unforgettable experience

Incredible memories have to be earned, they have to be provoked... The ones you will get from this visit to the Cordouan Lighthouse are unforgettable because they are the result of the short journey necessary to reach the lighthouse that its creators wanted to build on the open sea off Royan about 7 km from any coast.

You will embark at the port of Royan (or Le Verdon sur Mer) for a superb cruise alongside other adventurers. On board this boat you will leave for this crossing of a few kilometres which will bring you to the lighthouse in approximately 3/4 of an hour.

So take advantage of this moment in the open air, to relax, smell the sea spray and the iodine air and admire this magnificent landscape on the coast but also this silhouette which is slowly but surely approaching. The shape of the Cordouan lighthouse is unmistakable and you will have plenty of time to observe it during this approach.

You will then be disembarked quite close to the Cordouan Lighthouse, which is only accessible at low tide in order to be able to walk on the shallows, made up of sandbanks which are even visible from the coast at low tide (on the Grande Côte beach in Saint Palais sur Mer for example).

Bring a swimming costume or at least shorts and old trainers or flip-flops as you will finish your journey to the lighthouse, walking on the sandbank and depending on the movements of the sandbank during the previous tides, you may get water above your knees.

Phare de Cordouan vue de l'estran

3 The Cordouan lighthouse, 4 reasons to visit this unmissable monument of the seas

The more you approach the magnificent Cordouan Lighthouse, the more you will be amazed. So take the time to stay at the foot for a few minutes to admire its fantastic architecture up close.

Discover the foreshore at the foot of the Cordouan lighthouse and its incredible ecosystem

If the weather is good, we advise you to take your time on the foreshore at the foot of the Cordouan lighthouse. Indeed, many plant species such as a multitude of varieties of algae thrive here, but also more than 200 animal species. You will see curiously shaped algae, crabs by the hundreds, but also numerous sponges, shellfish and crustaceans.

You see it, a visit to the Cordouan lighthouse starts in the best conditions for lovers of natural spaces and photo enthusiasts. You will have a great time and will keep a lasting memory of this moment.

Meet the keepers of the Cordouan lighthouse, an authentic moment

You will continue your progression towards the lighthouse by taking the dike and will be welcomed by the owner of the place, the lighthouse keeper. He will be very happy to show you this place full of history which is his home for a few months of the year.

The Cordouan lighthouse is classified as a historical monument since 1862 and was recently listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is therefore unnecessary to specify that 4 guards are needed to keep an eye on it all year round.

 Generally very friendly and communicative, don't hesitate to ask them any questions you may have, they are inexhaustible on the subject. You will learn a lot and in the best way: by communicating with passionate people living here, at the end of the world, in this quietness (not always depending on the weather) and this total disorientation.

The Cordouan Lighthouse, a breathtaking construction with incredible architecture

The Cordouan Lighthouse is the oldest French lighthouse still in activity and the last one where keepers still live all year round.

When you arrive at the foot of the lighthouse, you will notice that the first three floors are cylindrical. These are the preserved remains of the old lighthouse, built at the end of the 1500s; a construction that lasted for more than 27 years from 1584 and was directed by Louis de Foix.

The upper floors are conical and more recent. Indeed, the span was deemed insufficient at the time and the tower had to be raised by more than 30 metres. The ground floor and the two upper floors, in the Renaissance style, are thus preserved and surmounted by a construction in the Louis XVI style.

The Cordouan Lighthouse consists of the following elements:
  • The engineer's flat, located at the foot of the lighthouse, it was used to house the engineers during their visits.
  • The vestibule (ground floor) housed the small rooms of the guards.
  • The king's flat (1st floor) which has never been inhabited by any sovereign.
  • The Chapel (2nd floor), named Notre Dame de Cordouan whose stained glass windows give this rather small place a very special atmosphere.
  • The Girondins Hall (3rd floor) which is the first level following the raising of the lighthouse in the late 1780s. It is from this level that the staircase is located along the outer walls of each room.
  • The counterweight room (4th floor) once housed the clockwork system that allowed the cover to be rotated to time the light of the lighthouse.
  • The lamp room (5th floor) housed the fuel necessary for the proper functioning of the Cordouan lighthouse. You can see the winch used to hoist the fuel (which has changed over time).
  • The watch room (6th floor) is the guards' workroom.
  • The optics (top level) and the terrace which will open up a breathtaking view and perhaps the ultimate stage of your journey.

At the top of the Cordouan lighthouse, an extraordinary panorama

The Cordouan Lighthouse offers you an incredible view from its terrace. After climbing the 301 steps of this imposing lighthouse lost in the middle of the sea, you have well deserved this reward: a breathtaking view of the Gironde estuary, the Charente coast with Royan, Saint Palais sur Mer, La Palmyre and the Coubre forest and on the other side of the estuary, the ocean side of the Pointe de Grave with Soulac sur Mer and the Verdon.

Admire the beautiful beaches of Charente-Maritime and Gironde and enjoy the deep blue ocean from the top of the lighthouse, it is just impressive.

La lentille du phare de cordouan