Rick's Lighthouse Page

I like lighthouses. I think it's something about the solitude, vastness, and power of the sea. I've always lived near salt water, and this might also be a factor. I've visited some of the lights along the western US coastline, but it's the lights of Brittany and Normandy in France that really got my attention. Many of these lights are constructed on rocks totally surrounded by water. You have to wonder about the men who risked their lives to build these. Most of these lighthouses were constructed in the late-1800s to the early-1900s, when the sorts of construction tools and techniques  that we take for granted today simply hadn't been invented yet! The English Channel provides the backdrop for some truly remarkable weather (i.e. downright nasty), especially during the winter months of the year.

Several years ago, I purchased a poster, a triptych (panel of three images) of the lighthouse called Kéréon. In the pictures, the lighthouse is being deluged by enormous waves that reach nearly to the top of the structure. I was completely awestruck just looking at it and I resolved to learn more. And so I did. My first questions were, "Who took this amazing picture?" and "Where in the world is Kéréon?"

Jean Guichard, a French photographer, took the picture from a helicopter. Kéréon is located in France. Locate the port city of Brest, in western France, near the western end of the English Channel. Now find the island, Ouessant (Ushant). The Kéréon lighthouse is located in the ocean, between Île d'Ouessant and the mainland of France.

  • Seeing the lighthouses of Brittany and Île d'Ouessant. I finally did it. You can too!
  • I made another trip to Brittany in 2005. You'll find the details about my trip by clicking here.
  • Kéréon has been automated. The last two keepers left for good on 29 January 2004. (English translation. Not totally finished)
  • Here is the triptych  that got my attention.
  • Jean Guichard's  images tell a story.
  • Here is an online photo mini-book  of his images.
  • You may have seen the poster photo in one of the earlier links of La Jument,  another of the lighthouses off the Breton coast of France. It shows the lighthouse about to be engulfed by a (yet another) huge wave, and if you look carefully, you can see the lighthouse keeper looking from the door as the wave is about to break around the house. Here  is an animation of that photo, and a short story about how it was taken. (The keeper did duck inside just in time!)
  • This map  helps illustrate just how many lighthouses are in this portion of the French lighthouse network. The map shows the NW coast of France, to the west of Normandy. The island is called Île d'Ouessant, and the light of Kéréon can be seen to the SE of the island. La Jument is also in the vicinity. BTW, the map has hotspots, so click away.
  • Philip Plisson  is another famous French lighthouse photographer. Aside from all of the beautiful images here, you'll also find a very nicely done directory of many of the French lights (as well as those of other countries). Click on Lighthouses. 
  • If you liked the music on Philip's website, you can buy it here.  The default clip (solo piano by Didier Squiban) that plays comes from his CD  titled, Molène.

You don't grok French? Neither do I. AltaVista's translation  page works remarkably well. You view an entire website thru the translator and it does a decent job of turning it into English. Google also offers this service now.

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Photo of Le Petit Minou by Rick Chinn

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Jessica London
as of 11/12/2004

Last modified 7/27/2005.