The Coubre lighthouse, the highest point in Charente-Maritime

From the top of his 64 meters, the Coubre lighthouse offers a spectacular panorama. On one side is the Côte Sauvage of the Arvert peninsula. On the other, we have a bird's eye view of the Bonne Anse Bay, located at the mouth of the Gironde.


Standing on a small cape which marks the entrance to theGironde estuary, near La Tremblade, the Coubre lighthouse is the highest in the department of Charente-Maritime. Its long slender silhouette and the double color of its concrete covering, red and white, allow it to be recognizable among all.

The work rests on a site worked by strong marine erosion. Each year, the coastline recedes due to the strong swells of the Atlantic Ocean. The phenomenon is particularly visible from the top of the lighthouse. It is particularly noticeable at the level of the bay of La Bonne Anse. A dune cord fed by maritime currents carrying sediments torn from the coast tends to close it. Still non-existent at the beginning of the XNUMXth century, this sandy strip continues to lengthen towards the mainland. Today, she is about to reach the shore bordered by the La Palmyre beach.

A stone beacon that didn't last long

The destiny of the La Coubre lighthouse is very closely linked to these natural processes. These are indeed particularly sensitive near estuaries and deltas. We erect our tower in 1905. instead of other sentries. Built too close to the sea, they were unable to sustainably resist the weakening and successive setbacks of the coast chipped by waves, wind and runoff.

In 1830, we first built a wooden pyramid to secure maritime traffic in the Gironde estuary. It serves as a beacon for vessels entering this zone of turbulent waters, the scene of countless shipwrecks. Invisible heaps of sand, including the aptly named Banc de la Mauvaise, cause these accidents. This pyramid is demolished fifteen years later by the ocean. In order to replace it, a fir tree scaffolding was rebuilt and put into service on August 15, 1860. This solution was too temporary for the imperial government of the time. He thus ordered, the same year, the erection of a lighthouse worthy of the name at the Pointe de la Coubre.

It was finally necessary to wait until 1895 to see a stone tower 57 meters just 1,5 km from the sea. Badly located, the monument was quickly threatened by sea erosion which eventually collapsed on May 21, 1907. But this time, the public authorities took the lead. The current lighthouse has been lighting its lantern for almost two years now on a site located 1,5 kilometers away from that of its – fire – predecessor.

The Coubre lighthouse is the first in France to have been designed in concrete.

thierry avan

La Coubre lighthouse on the Wild Coast

You can make out the stone base of the old lighthouse below the dunes.

300 steps to climb

Considered for a time, the construction of an iron building was finally abandoned. First for the benefit of a masonry solution (for the 1895 lighthouse now submerged) then, in reinforced concrete (for that of 1905). The latter, designed by the engineer Paul Alexandre, nevertheless retains from the initial project the metal screw stairwell, made in the workshops of Gustave Eiffel. The interior of the tower is a curiosity and a rarity that made the reputation of the Coubre lighthouse. He is registered with Historical Monuments in 2011.

300 steps follow one another along walls entirely covered with blue opaline tiles. There are 7 in total! In addition to the Charente sentinel, only two headlights have such a coating. These are those of Eckmül and Île Vierge, both located in the department of Finistère in Brittany.


A filiform lighthouse

Its cylindrical architecture is qualified as trumpet type. Indeed, from its base to its middle, the building becomes thinner like the pavilion of the musical instrument. Her tapered shape is close to that of its frustoconical counterpart of 1895. It also takes up the "simplified" crowning supported by arched brackets. 

In the upper part, the interior of the lantern cabin, covered with a wood-paneled dome, houses a 250-watt halogen lamp with a range of up to 52 kilometers (28 nautical miles). Outside, the base of the copper dome is decorated with lions' heads and a patterned crown in openwork metal. The sphere that caps the extreme top of the lighthouse is the old chamber where the decompression of the gas used for the original lighting took place. 


The particularity of the Coubre lighthouse is to be equipped with a red secondary light nicknamed "Barbette" installed in a small housing suspended 35 meters high.

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