Histoire - Patrimoine bâti, Plages - Partir à la plage, Nature - île photogénique, Océan - Profiter de l'Océan, Randonner -autour de l'île, Belle île en mer, île de Bretagne, Bretagne sud, au large du Golfe du Morbihan
©Située à l'extrême nord de l'île, la pointe des Poulains est l'un des sites plus emblématiques de Belle-Île. Avec son phare et le fortin de Sarah Bernhardt c'est un lieu privilégié pour découvrir le patrimoine local|©Karine Piquet

The Poulains lighthouse

Located at the end of the northern tip of Belle-Île, on the other side of the Poulains beach, the Poulains lighthouse has existed since 1868. Today, it is fully automatic. The lighthouse watches over 24.5 miles of sea (about 45 kilometers) and warns sailors of the danger of the coast.

More than a lighthouse

A place to visit in the heart of a preserved natural site

By its proportions, the Poulains lighthouse is a lighthouse house located on the northwestern tip of Belle-île. It was built in 1868 in response to the strong increase in maritime traffic and to ensure the signalling of one of the most dangerous points for navigation, between Les Poulains and the tip of the Quiberon peninsula.

Today, the lighthouse hosts a permanent exhibition on the management of natural areas and can be visited as part of the unique heritage of the Pointe des Poulains with the Villa of the 5 parts of the World (which houses the Sarah Bernhardt museum space) and the Villa Lysiane, now the Maison du Littoral.

A little history…

A lighthouse known as “staking”

At the beginning of the 19th century, La Pointe des Poulains was well known for its dangerousness by the 200 or so fishing boats that plied the coasts in search of fish, especially sardines. Indeed, several currents collide at this end of the island, subject to violent winds coming from all directions.

A project for a turret was announced in 1805 at Pointe des Poulains, but work on the lighthouse did not begin until 1867. Its main function was to warn sailors that they were approaching a busy road close to the coast.

The Poulains Lighthouse was inaugurated on September 15, 1868, ready to shine with a 4th order white flashing light every 5 seconds. Built according to the strict “lighthouse house” plan defined by Léonce Reynaud, an illustrious lighthouse and beacon engineer, the official house was small but functional, with no real comforts except for a courtyard protected from the wind by a two-meter low wall. Life for the keepers was harsh, especially since the islet on which the building was built was inaccessible at high tide, beyond coefficients of over 70!

Nature - île photogénique, Océan - Profiter de l'OcéanLogo Conservatoire Du Littoral
©Logo Conservatoire Du Littoral

The Poulains Lighthouse, maritime signaling building has been owned by the Conservatoire du Littoral since 2004, as a remarkable heritage.

A lighthouse

made famous by Sarah Bernhardt

It was powered by mineral oil until 1875, then switched to petroleum steam in 1903, before being electrified in 1950. In 1987, the last keeper, René Le Port, left the lighthouse when it was automated. The Poulains lighthouse is now controlled from the Goulphar lighthouse. 32 m² of photovoltaic panels have been integrated on its roof to power its lamp and a set of batteries allows it to remain autonomous during ten days without sun. A generator is also present, just in case.

The place has been made popular since Sarah Bernardt, the great Parisian tragedienne, bought the nearby fort there, where she would stay for 30 summers, from 1894 to 1922. Star of the time, many prominent personalities or in search of exoticism came to visit it and celebrated this lighthouse on their return to Paris thanks to its typically Breton aestheticism. There are few lighthouses in France whose cultural and tourist character was triggered so early!

Nowadays, the place is open to the public but keeps its wild and timeless aspect. The site offers one of the most beautiful panoramas of Belle-île….On a clear day, the view extends to the island of Groix, Lorient and the bay of Quiberon.

Some technical information

– Function: Staking light.
– Coordinates: 47°23.312′ N, 3°15.106′ W (WGS 84)
– Number of steps: 62
– Height: 15.20 meters (bulb height)
– Elevation: 34 meters (above sea level)
– Range (nautical miles): 24.5 miles (approximately 45 km)
– Light characteristics: 1 white flash every 5 seconds
– Lantern characteristics: 150 watt metal halide lamp, 90 watt halogen backup
– Electrification: 1950
– Automation: 1987