Histoire - Patrimoine bâti, Belle île en mer, île de Bretagne, Bretagne sud, au large du Golfe du MorbihanHaut de 52 m, le Grand Phare également appelé Goulphar offre un point de vue remarquable sur le plateau de Belle-Île
©Haut de 52 m, le Grand Phare également appelé Goulphar offre un point de vue remarquable sur le plateau de Belle-Île |Philippe Ulliac
Big Lighthouse Guardian of the sailors

Grand Phare, in Belle-île: Welcome to the top of one of the most powerful lighthouses in Europe! Its 2 white flashes every 10 seconds will remain among your most beautiful memories (and landmarks) at night!

The highest point of Belle-Île

The lighthouse remains THE monument inseparable from the Atlantic coast, and more particularly from the Brittany region. A third of the lighthouses in the territory of France were actually built there. These stone giants are part of the French national heritage and their visits are among the must-sees of any stay in Breton land! About 70 of the Breton lighthouses are classified as “Monuments of France” (MH). The most famous are located in Finistère but Morbihan, in Southern Brittany, is not left behind.

Heaven, purgatory or hell?

According to the guardians of these stone sentinels, there are 3 types of lighthouses:


This is a lighthouse built on the coast, or in an estuary, sometimes near a village. It is easy to live there and most often in family. The only constraint, which remains common to all lighthouses, climbing the many steps to access the lantern.

The Purgatory

The lighthouse is built on an isolated island, more or less removed from the mainland. While there is solitude, there is however a way to return to the mainland to find “civilization” and stock up on some supplies.


This is a lighthouse placed on a much more remote island, even in the middle of the ocean, with no land around…The keeper is therefore isolated there for several weeks, or even much longer once the sea gets rough.

Goulphar: a clever mix of all three…

Belle-Île, by its size (20 kilometers long by 10 wide) and its population (about 5,300 inhabitants year-round) is more like a piece of continent at sea than an islet like that of Pointe des Poulains. Because of its strategic position off the coast of Brittany, its range of 50 km ranks it in the first order and makes it one of the most powerful lighthouses in Europe!

The Grand Phare (or Goulphar) is located in the commune of Bangor and was commissioned in 1836. Goulphar is a granite tower of 52 meters that adjoin technical buildings and the houses of guards, classified as “MH” since May 2011.

Lighthouse keepers

There are very few lighthouse keepers left in France but 2 are still present in Goulphar. Named “senior technicians of sustainable development“, they watch over about sixty lights between the tip of Penmarc’h (south Finistère) and the mouth of the Vilaine River, maintain the 3 lighthouses and the 5 lights of Bellilois, and ensure, for the entire French territory the control of the proper functioning of the differential GPS.

Visit Grand Phare: schedules and rates

Why do we love the Great Gully Lighthouse?
After 247 steps, the view on Belle-île is breathtaking!
Guided tours in season and during school vacations
In autumn and winter, the Lighthouse opens its doors at dusk
A little history

The granite tower was built from 1826 to 1835, according to the project of physicist Augustin Fresnel, chief engineer and secretary of the Lighthouse Commission in Paris. A true genius of light polarization, Fresnel unveiled, in 1825, his “Map of Lighthouses,” describing a system of 51 lighthouses and smaller port lights to be installed on the coasts of France. He then classified the lighthouses according to “orders”. The lighthouses of the first order are those that have the greatest range and are equipped with the largest lenses.

Function: Large landing light, i.e., lights for approaching a coast

Location and coordinates: Bangor, Belle-Île-en-Mer, Morbihan, Brittany | 47°18′ 39″ N 3°13’37” W

Construction and ignition: 1826 – 1833 | 1835

Number of steps: 247

Height, elevation and range: 52.25 meters; 92 meters (above highest seas); 27 miles (about 50 km)

Fire characteristics: 2 white flashes every 10 seconds

Lantern Features: 1000 watt metal halide lamp and 650 watt halogen emergency light.

Big Lighthouse

and its Lighthouses and Beacons museum

A must-see site on Belle-île

The most courageous will be able to climb the 247 steps that give access to a panoramic balcony at 43 meters high. At your feet the coastal moor, jewel of the sensitive natural space of Port-Coton in Vazen, with as a bonus infinite view on the Ocean, and by good weather, the roadstead of Lorient and the island of Groix!

On the first floor, the less adventurous, the very young and the mobility-impaired will find a permanent exhibition addressing different themes: the administration and history of lighthouses, the job of keepers, the beaconing and natural spaces.

Paradise, purgatory or hell? According to the guardians of these stone sentinels, there are 3 types of lighthouses.