Petit Minou Lighthouse in the roadstead of Brest, Finistère, France
© Mathieu Rivrin/Getty Image
Hailing the sentinels of the sea
To mark International Lighthouse Heritage Weekend we're visiting the Petit Minou Lighthouse just across the Channel in Brittany, on France’s north-west coast. Standing next to a fort of the same name, the lighthouse was added in 1848 to help ships navigate a tricky stretch of submerged rocks in the two-mile-long Goulet de Brest strait. Brittany’s coastlines are said to have the largest concentration of lighthouses in the world – particularly the Finistère region, where our homepage image was taken – and tourists are encouraged to discover them by following the Route des Phares (the lighthouse route). However the country with the most lighthouses is the USA, where an estimated 1,500 line up along its shores – the first built way back in 1716 near Boston.
It's a big weekend for lighthouses as it is also the International Lighthouse and Lightship Weekend, set up by a group of amateur radio operators from nearly 100 countries. Individual events are held at various lighthouses around the world, where 'ham' radio operators gather to broadcast and engage with fellow enthusiasts operating at other lighthouse sites. They aim both to promote amateur radio and to raise awareness of lighthouse preservation and restoration work, honouring the legacy these solitary structures have had on our collective maritime heritage.