The Cordouan lighthouse, which stands in the mouth of the Gironde estuary, is the only remaining manned maritime lighthouse in France, the oldest lighthouse still in operation and the only one in the world open to visitors! This absolutely unique site rewards those hardy enough to climb the 301 steps to the lantern room with breathtaking views of the Gironde estuary and the coastline of Royan to the north and Medoc to the south.
Its listing as an historic monument in 1862, in the same year as the cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris, bears eloquent witness to the beauty of its architecture, in the style of a Renaissance chateau.
The rocky islet from which the lighthouse rises is entirely submerged at each high tide, and provides an environment rich in marine plants and animals.
At low tide, the lighthouse keepers themselves welcome visitors arriving by boat from the Gironde side of the estuary (sailing from Verdon-sur-Mer) or from the Charente side (from Royan or Meschers). After landing at the foot of the lighthouse or further out on the sandbank, depending on the conditions, visitors have a few hours to explore this magical world. An unforgettable experience, without a doubt.