sea rolls on Oleron Island

Chassiron lighthouse

Chassiron lighthouse is one of the landmarks of the island of Oleron. The visitors can climb to the top of the lighthouse or discover an exhibition set in its rotunda. The gardens are also worth a visit.

The cliff on which the lighthouse stands is a pleasant setting for a walk in a preserved natural environment.

A bit of history

Chassiron lighthouse, the main lighthouse of the island, is located in the north on the town of Saint-Denis d'Oleron.

It replaces a tower built at the initiative of Colbert in the seventeenth century which was lit with two wood fires.

The lighthouse is in use since 1836. It seems to be named after Baron Charles de Chassiron, however, this origin is disputed.

White for nearly a century, it was sometimes confused with the "lighthouse of the Whales" on Re Island. To avoid accidents, black stripes were added to it.

Visit of the lighthouse

Chassiron lighthouse is 46 meters (150 ft) high and is visible from a 52 km (32 miles) distance in clear weather. It was automated in 1998.

The splendid view from its summit rewards the effort made to climb its 224 steps. Along the coast two fish locks can be seen.

Farther, the twenty meters high "balise d'Antioche" draws attention to a dangerous rock. Re Island stands in the distance.

The lighthouse is open to visitors every day of the year. Guided night tours are available during the summer season.

Museum

An exhibition ("Les gens de la côte") can be seen in the rotunda. It reveals the lives of the islanders who were once sailors or farmers.

The museum also presents fishing techniques traditionally used by fishermen from Oleron.

Lighthouse Gardens

The gardens are organized as a compass. They illustrate how to grow vegetables and vines.

They show products grown on Oleron Island and puzzles on Chassiron lighthouse.

Besides, temporary exhibitions are presented in the house that was once used by lighthouse keepers.

The cliff

The walk along the cliff allows to appreciate the site of Chassiron lighthouse, which is classified for its fauna and flora.

As landslides are frequent, one must be very vigilant. It is recommended not to stand too close to the edge of the cliff.

The semaphore belongs to the French Navy. Its access is obviously closed to the public.

Fish locks

The seventeen locks still in exploitation on the island are the heritage of a traditional fishing. The majority are located on Chassiron's headland. They were more than two hundreds a century ago.

Guided tours to discover the foreshore and the fish locks are held from Chassiron lighthouse.

The shape of the locks neighboring the lighthouse can be distinctly seen from its platform.

Principle of operation of a lock

Presented in the form of a semicircular low wall made of not cemented stones and advanced in the ocean, the locks are entirely covered with water at high tide, making it possible for fish to enter there.

When the sea goes down, water runs out through grids, retaining fish captive.

The locks are fragile. It is absolutely prohibited to move the stones of the low walls and to fish at less than fifty meters.

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