France, Gironde, Le Verdon sur mer, Cordouan lighthouse aerial view
LEROY Francis / hemis/© LEROY Francis / hemis
France’s most famous and oldest-working lighthouse, the 225-foot-high Cordouan is a gorgeous limestone masterpiece that for centuries has protected mariners at the mouth of the Gironde. An innovator in lighting technology, it was also so elaborate inside that one room was reserved as the King’s Apartment. A handful of other fine lighthouses mark either bank of the estuary, with the almost-equally-tall and thin Coubre and Pointe Grave being two of the most visible.
It is now a UNESCO world heritage site that travelers can visit from April to October. To get there, you must take a boat from either Royan or Le Verdon-sur-Mer. Departure times and advanced reservations can be found online on the lighthouse’s website.