The lighthouses of the Vendée

Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez
The lighthouses of th ...

If you want to do an original, educational and sporting activity, visit the lighthouses of the Vendée! Climbing a lighthouse, with all its steps, is no doubt a sporting activity. Along the way, you will learn more about the scientific challenges that had to be overcome to succeed in their design and improve their efficiency. Indeed, if they are essential to maritime navigation, they are also essential monuments to appreciate the maritime heritage of Vendée. Once at the top, you will be dazzled by these exceptional 360° panoramas. You will see, it is really a new experience, which is well worth this effort. Here we go, we open the doors of the lighthouses of the Vendée to you.


Photos of the article © Guide de la Vendée


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The lighthouses of the North Vendée coast

We start our tour of the lighthouses, from north to south of the Vendée, at the gates of the Marais Breton Vendéen. Two lighthouses mark this dangerous marshy area, along the northern Vendée coast. The Phare des Brochets is located in the town of Bouin. It allows you to discover the Bay of Bourgneuf, the oyster port and its oyster beds.

On the other side of the bay, in Beauvoir-sur-Mer, the Phare de l'Époids is located in the port of Bec. You will have a beautiful view of the Passage du Gois. The Phare de la Fromentine is located between the Pont de Noirmoutier and the Passage du Gois, in the access gully between the island of Noirmoutier and the beaches of La Fromentine. These are sector headlights: white, red and green.


The light of a lighthouse is most often white. If it is red, it signals a danger and if it is green, a passage. The light beam is directly positioned on the affected area. This is why they are called "sector lights ". When they work in duo, one lighthouse shows the way in green and the other, the dangerous area in red.


Bouin, Oyster farming area

The oyster farming area of Bouin

The lighthouses of Noirmoutier island

At the end of Noirmoutier Island, you can observe the Pilier Lighthouse from a distance. On the small island of Pillar two lighthouses were built during the 19th century. The first tower does not support the technological evolutions of the lights, it was replaced by a second tower. It has been preserved and is used for maritime radiobeaconing.


The Pillar Lighthouse
The Pillar Lighthouse

The Pointe des Dames Lighthouse is surprising. In the heart of the Bois de la Chaise, it overlooks a pretty little house. This is therefore what we call a flagship house. It is always guarded and cannot be visited.


We call life in a lighthouse " hell " or " paradise "... This expression is linked to their location and attributed by lighthouse keepers. The open sea lighthouse is isolated and life is harsh, it is " hell ". The lighthouse, built on a small island, is a " purgatory ". A lighthouse that is on land or on an inhabited island is considered a " paradise ". Guardians start their careers in " hell " and end it in " paradise "!

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The lighthouses of Ile d'Yeu

On the island of Yeu, you will find two main lighthouses, which mark the two ends of the island. To the west, on the ocean side, the Grand Phare can be visited from April to September. From the top of this high tower, the panorama is breathtaking. The guided tour can be combined with that of the Old Castle.

At the other end of the island, the Phare des Corbeaux faces Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez. It cannot be visited but its art-deco architecture is worth a look. It is located on the coastal path, the “ Sente de Kreuzland ”, which takes you to Pointe des Corbeaux. It is a second-rate revolving fire.


The Lighthouse of Port Joinville
The Lighthouse of Port Joinville


Each lighthouse is identified by a “ light signature ”, made up of a series of “ bursts ” of light, short, long or flashing, following a unique rhythm. They are categorized according to their light range. The first-rate lighthouses, used in the open sea, have a range of 60 km. Those of second order have a range of 40 km, for the lighthouses marking out maritime routes. Third-order lighthouses, with a range of 28 km, indicate the entrance to the ports.


In Port-Joinville, a walk along the pier will allow you to see the small lighthouse of the North West Pier and on the other side, the Fire of the Grand Quai . During Heritage Days, you can also visit the Lighthouse of the Bride and Groom.

Opposite the Pointe du But on Île d'Yeu, opposite the old semaphore, is the Perrins dogs fixed light beacon.


Ile d'Yeu, the Perrins dogs
Perrins Dogs

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The lighthouses of the southern Vendée coast

In Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez, there are several traffic lights. Strolling along the Corniche, you pass beautiful viewpoints: the Trou du diable, the Belvédère Arrondeau, and finally the Feu de Grosse Terre. Then, at the end of Boisvinet beach, you can see the Boisvinet Lighthouse. Finally, the Joséphine Tower is the entry lighthouse to the Port de la Vie in Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie.


The Fire of Grosse Terre
The Fire of Grosse Terre
The Josephine Tower
The Josephine Tower

In Sables-d'Olonne, the Armandèche Lighthouse, followed by the Chaume Lighthouse, at the end of the jetty, dot the seaside resort. The Armandèche Lighthouse is a landing light. It has the specificity of being the last lighthouse built in France. It can only be visited during Heritage Days. While the Phare de la Chaume is an entrance lighthouse, to facilitate access to the channel of the port of Sables-d'Olonne. It sits on the terrace of the Tower of Arundel. We advise you to visit the Museum of the Sea, which allows you to climb to the top of the lighthouse. Off Sables-d'Olonne, the Phare des Barges is a staking lighthouse, about 3 km from the coast.

There is also the green lighthouse of Sables d'Olonne, it indicates the entrance to the channel and the access to the port and if you look closely (no, it's not just the photo) it is tilted a little...


The Green Lighthouse of Sables d'Olonne
The Green Lighthouse of Sables d'Olonne
The lighthouse of the Saint-Nicolas jetty in Sables d'Olonne
The lighthouse of the Saint-Nicolas jetty in Sables d'Olonne
The lighthouses of Sables d'Olonne
The two lighthouses

The last Vendée lighthouse is the Phare du Grouin du Cou, in La-Tranche-sur-Mer. It allows access to the Perthuis Breton Strait, closed by the Île de Ré.


Lighthouses are also listed by their function: the landing light signals the approach of a coast; that of staking marks the course of a sea route. There are also port entrance lighthouses.


This walk through the lighthouses of the Vendée comes to an end and we hope to have made you want to visit these typical monuments of Vendée heritage.


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