Cordouan Lighthouse, Royan, Charente, France
© FRTimelapse/Getty Image
King of lighthouses. Cordouan Lighthouse, France
Built between 1584 and 1611, the Cordouan Lighthouse is France's oldest working lighthouse and the only one in the country that is still inhabited by keepers. For centuries, this maritime marvel has watched over the Gironde Estuary, on France's Atlantic coast, a treacherous area where shipwrecks were once common.
Designed by engineer Louis de Foix and remodeled in the 18th century, this stunning lighthouse with its stained-glass windows and Renaissance architecture is sometimes known as the Versailles of the Seas, after the famous French palace. Others call it the King of Lighthouses.
A visit to this historic landmark will take you on a journey to a bygone era, concluding with a climb up more than 300 steps to the lighthouse's pinnacle, where you can enjoy a commanding view of the coast and Atlantic Ocean.