France, Gironde, Le Verdon sur mer, Cordouan lighthouse aerial view
LEROY Francis / hemis/© LEROY Francis / hemis
France’s oldest and most famous working lighthouse, the 69-meter-tall Cordouan is a gorgeous limestone structure at the mouth of the Gironde that has guided sailors for centuries. The original building, completed at the beginning of the 17th century, was a wonder of engineering that also included an elaborately decorated interior of gilt and carved wood. It was later topped by an 18th-century extension. A handful of other fine lighthouses mark either bank of the estuary, with the almost equally tall Coubre and Pointe Grave being two of the most visible.