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Grand Phare Lighthouse

Grand Phare, in Belle-île : welcome to the summit of one of the most powerful lighthouses of Europe !

 

The lighthouse stays THE monument you can’t detach from the atlantic façade, and more particularly a very distinctive element of the Brittany region. In that sense, one third of the lighthouses in France were built in Brittany.

These stone giants are part of the national french heritage and their visit are a must of any travel across the brittany land !

 

About 70 brittany lighthouses are classified as « Monuments de France » (landmarks of France). The most well-known are located in the Finistère but you can find a few lighthouses in the Morbihan as well. The proof is Belle-île-en-mer with its two white lights that flash across the island every 10 seconds, from the Grand Phare (also named Goulphar). We have no doubt they will remain among your most beautiful memories (and landmarks) at night!


Paradise, purgatory or hell ? 

According to the guardians of these sentries made of stone, you can find three types of lighthouses : 

  • The Paradise

A lighthouse that was constructed on the coast, or in an estuary, sometimes nearby a village. It’s easy to live there and most often with your family. The only disadvantage, shared with all lighthouses, is the obligation to climb all the stairs up to the lantern.

  • The Purgatory

The lighthouse is built on an isolated island, more or less away from the continent. If loneliness is your sole company, it is however possible to join the other side to find some « civilisation » and do some grocery shopping. 

  • Hell

A lighthouse located on a very faraway island, or in the middle of the ocean, without any land around… The guardian is therefore isolated for various weeks or more when the sea is raging.

 

Goulphar : maybe a mixture of the three… 

Belle-île resembles more a piece of land in the sea than a small island like you can find at the Pointe des Poulains, considering its size (20 kilometres long and 10 kilometres wide) and its population (about 5300 inhabitants all year round). Taking into account its strategic position off the coast of Brittany, its reach of 50 kilometers puts it on the first front and makes it one of the most powerful lighthouses of Europe !

The Grand Phare (or Goulphar) is located in the village of Bangor and opened in 1836. Goulphar is a 92 meters granite tower with neighbouring tecnical buildings and guardian houses.

 

Some History 

The granite tower was under construction from 1826 to 1835, the project was organised by the physician Augustin Fresnel, head engineer and secretary of the Commission des phares in Paris.

In 1825, Fresnel -who was an absolute genius of light’s polarisation- drew up the « Maps of lighthouses », describing a system of 51 lighthouses and smaller navigation lights, to build along the coasts of France.

He then classified the lighthouses according to orders. The lighthouses which belong to the first order are the ones who have the biggest reach and are gifted with the biggest lenses. Fresnel also put in place an authentification system of the lights : constant light, flash every minute, two flashes every minute, according to the reach and their order.

 

 

Some tecnical data about the Grand Phare

 

Fonction

Big landing light lighthouse, which means approach lights

 

Localisation and address 

Bangor, Belle-Île-en-Mer, Morbihan, Bretagne | 47°18’ 39” N 3°13’37” W

 

Construction and opening

1826 - 1833 | 1835

 

Number of stairs

247 

 

Height, elevation and reach

52,25 meters (height of the light bulb), 92 meters (above sea level); 27 miles (about 50 km)

 

Characteristics of the lights

2 white flashes every 10 seconds

 

Characteristics of the lantern

1000 Watt metal halide lamp and 650 Watt halogen emergency light. 

 

 

A must-see site of Belle-île 

The most courageous ones will walk up the 247 stairs which give access to a 43 meters high panoramic balcony. At your feet : the coastline, jewel of the delicate natural site of Port-Coton in Vazen, with as a bonus an infinite view of the Ocean and if it’s sunny you might see Lorient and the island of Groix !

At the ground floor, the least courageous and the little ones will be able to find a permanent exhibition presenting different themes : the administration and the history of lighthouses, the job of guardian, the markings and the natural sites.

 

Opening hours (2021) 

From the 19th of May (it may change) to the 9th of July and from the 30th of August to the 30th of September From Wednesday to Sunday From 11am till 1pm and from 2pm till 6pm
From the 10th of July till the 29th of August Every day From 11am till 1pm and from 2pm till 6pm
From the 1st of October till the 15th of OctoberWednesday, Friday, SaturdayFrom 1pm till 5pm
From the 16th of October till the 31st of OctoberFrom Tuesday through SundayFrom 1pm till 5pm
From the 26th of December till the 31st of December Guided tour upon bookingAt 3pm

Visit of the Grand Phare : 20 minutes + open visit of the exhibition (last entry 30 minutes before the closing time)

 

From the 19th of May (providing that there’s no change) till the 30th of September you can expect some guide tours every morning one hour before the lighthouse opens. Beware, due to the limited number of places you must book your tour in advance by calling the +33(0)6 70 63 93 68.  

 

Prices 2021 

Adult : 3 €

Seasonal worker : 2,50 €

Child 7 to 12 year old : 1,50 €

Child younger than 7 years old: free

Islander : free

Adult cultural pass (12 year old and plus) : 2,40 €*

Child cultural pass (7-12 year old) : 1,20 €*

*Upon presentation of your ticket from the Citadelle Vauban or from the home museum of Sarah Bernhardt

 

The guided tours:  


The Lighthouse (includes the climb of the Grand Phare) 

Adult : 5 €

Child 7 to 12 years old and islander : 3 €

Child younger than 7 years old : 1 €

Exceptional guided tour

Local heritage day : free 

 

La nocturne du Phare (climb by night without a guide) 

Adult : 4 €

Child 7 to 12 years old and islander : 2 €

Child younger than 7 years old : 1 € 


La nuit du Phare (climb by night with a guide) 

Adult : 7 €

Child 7 to 12 years old and islander : 4,50 €

Child younger than 7 years old : 1 €

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