My fascination with lighthouses continues (also see my prior blogs on the subject 'Lighthouses' and 'La Corbiere Lighthouse'). Recently, I went on a Brittany lighthouse tour with a group of photographer friends. First we spent couple days in Jersey, Channel Islands and photographed La Corbiere lighthouse there as described in my previous blog post 'La Corbiere Lighthouse'. After that, we took a car ferry from Jersey to St. Malo in Brittany. On the way, we've encountered the lighthouse outside of St. Malo and I took its photo from a moving ferry at sunset (see below).
St. Malo is an ancient walled port city with its roots dating back to its founding by Gauls in the first century BC and a more modern version to a 6th century monk settlement. Some of its fame or infamy derives from it being a base for privateers, king endorsed pirates, in the 19th century. During the WW2, the city was largely destroyed but rebuilt subsequently. Below is a nightscape image of the present day St. Malo as seen from outside of the city wall.
We were traveling along the Brittany coast in mainly rural areas and small villages and towns. Throughout our Brittany visit, we were disappointed with the available cuisine. The dishes at local restaurants were primarily galettes and dessert crepes. Galettes are buckwheat pancakes with variety of fillings. The most popular galette, galette complete (see image below), has ham, egg and Emmental cheese. On one occasion, I've made a horrible mistake of ordering galette with Andouille sausage, expecting a sausage similar to that found in Louisiana. My first bite tasted strange and far from appetizing. After separating the two galette pancakes, I've discovered that this Andouille version consisted of only pig intestines with polyps. There was no sausage or any semblance of sausage, only a slab of intestines. Total gross out! I did manage not to throw up and decided to stay away from galettes forever. Another surprising and disconcerting thing was that the restaurants did not seem to have any vegetables with the exception of lettuce. We missed vegetables so much, even though being normal hamburger and steak aficionados, that the very first that we've ordered in a restaurant after return to Jersey was a huge bowl of vegetables for our table. Now to get back on topic, the Brittany lighthouses unlike the food, were fabulous and worth the trip.
Eckmuhl lighthouse (Phare d'Eckmuhl, St. Pierre LightPoint Penmarc'h Light) is a 212 foot active lighthouse, one of the tallest structures of this kind in the world. Its beam is visible for 60 miles. It was completed in 1897 in the vicinity of the old lighthouse of Penmarch (built in 1830's) and a semaphore of St. Pierre. It octagonal granite exterior (same granite as the base of Statue of Liberty) covers the cylindrical interior. Its interior is graced by a stunning 272 granite step spiral staircase, opaline tile covered wall, and recessed windows (see below).
Mean Ruz lighthouse is an active lighthouse located in the Cotes-d'Armor region of Brittany. The present structure was constructed in 1946 using pink granite and replaced the 1860's one which was destroyed in WW2. The official name Mean Ruz means "red stone" in Breton but it's also known as the Ploumanac'h lighthouse after the nearby port town which means "monk's pool" also in Breton.
Kermorvan lighthouse, the most western lighthouse on the French mainland, is an active squared shaped stone lighthouse built in 1849. It's located at the furthest point of the Le Conquet harbor. It is accessible by a granite bridge.
St. Mathieu lighthouse, a granite structure, was built in 1835 at the old St. Mathieu Benedictine abbey in the vicinity of Le Conquet. The image below shows the St. Mathieu Point at sunset including the lighthouse, abbey remnants and a the signal station with the sun setting behind it.
Petit Minou lighthouse (Phare du Petit Minou, Little Kitty Lighthouse) is located in front of a fort by the same name outside of Brest. The fort was built in the 17th century and the lighthouse was constructed around 1850. The lighthouse sits on top of a rock and is accessible by a stone bridge. The two images below show the lighthouse and the access bridge at early dawn and at sunset, respectively.
The current granite Vierge lighthouse, on the Vierge Island at the southwestern tip of the English Channel, was constructed in 1902 near the original lighthouse which dates back to 1845. It's the tallest traditional stone lighthouse structure in Europe. The new lighthouse is a 270 ft high conical structure with cylindrical interior lined with opaline glass tiles. There are 360 stone and 32 iron steps to the top. While its exterior is relatively unremarkable, its spiral staircase is inspiring and a worthy note on which to end this blog (see below).
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