The lighthouse



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Live concert of DNGLS around Pontuval lighthouse in 2019

LIKE A WHITE SEAGULL FACING THE OPEN WATERS AND SCANNING THE HORIZON, THE LITTLE LIGHTHOUSE IN PONTUSVAL WAS LIT UP FOR THE FIRST TIME ON 15 SEPTEMBER 1869.

Built at the time to alert ships to the dangerous reefs running along the Côte des Légendes, it is still in operation today, midway between the Ile Vierge and Ile de Batz Lighthouses.  It has been a listed historic monument since 2011, and the building’s owner, Phares et Balises, must still continue to maintain it.


This is a magical place, whose wonderment is only further accentuated by the fine sandy beaches lined with rocks sculpted by the wind, the sea and time.


Located in the new municipality of Plounéour-Brignogan-Plages, it is now one of the must-see gems of the Côte des Légendes.

 

The lighthouse keeper

 

Marie-Paule knows her lighthouse well, having looked after it since 1968! It holds no secrets for her, and she has accumulated many a memory in all those years, especially the 50 steps to the tower which she had to climb quickly in storms when the “electricity fairy” had succumbed to their power! For 35 years, the two were at their posts both from dusk ‘til dawn, like an old married couple, making sure to keep the precious light burning for those out to sea.


The beacon has been automated since 2003, but Marie-Paule is still here.  A native of Brignogan-Plages, often left alone with her children when her husband was away with the merchant marine, she had no desire to abandon her stony friend, with which she had lived in unison for so many years.


Now retired, she still lives in the lighthouse and will be the final tenant of this charming structure which stands 18 metres tall with a range of 10 miles (18 kilometres).


 

The legend of the dragon

Artistic installation during the "Ribin' de l'imaginaire"

 

Each place has its own legend !

In Pontusval, we talk about the dragon of Elorn. Each Saturday a person was chosen in a random draw from amongst the population of La Roche-Maurice, to be offered up to satiate the dragon’s ravenous hunger. When the Lord of Elorn learned that this fate had befallen his two-year-old son, he decided to drown himself, rather than give up his child to the monster.

By luck, he was rescued by two knights passing by, who were stunned by his desperate act. The pagan lord then explained the reason for his despair, and the knights promised him that, if he converted, they would deliver him from the evil creature forever, an offer which the lord hastily accepted.
With a great deal of courage and effort, they captured the monster and threw it into the sea at Pontusval Headland, where it drowned.
Now you understand where the Pontusval’s name came from: Poul beuz en eval, which means “chasm where the beast was drowned” in Breton.

 

Close to the lighthouse

 

On the GR®34 Pontusval lighthouse can be the start of many aventures

With, obviously the Site of Meneham and its guard house between rocks, just 2.4 kilometres walking !

 

Pol Chapel - 450 metres

La chapelle Pol, à deux pas du phare © M. Le Tissier - TCDL

In the 16th century, the chapel was erected in the middle of the rocks, on the ruins of several successive buildings, namely including a former monastery founded by Saint Paul Aurelian (also known as Saint Pol). It was partially rebuilt in 1870.
Made of granite, it is surrounded by a small cross and a superb crucifix. A small customs hut was built on top of a nearby rock, that can be reached by a staircase carved into the stone. That hut was part of the old construction programme designed to monitor the coastline, under the aegis of the engineer Vauban in the late 17th century. The militiamen under the Aber-Wrac’h harbourmaster stayed there, on the lookout for enemy vessels and possible shipwrecks, but most for people attempting to pillage old wrecks.

At that time, the little chapel was mainly used as a guardhouse.
 

The curse of the country priest


It is said that one night, a sailor coming back from sea was caught in a violent storm that prevented him from getting home. He decided to take shelter in the chapel and spend the night there. On the stroke of midnight, two candles burst into flame, and a priest appeared. The vision terrified the sailor, who huddled up in his corner, without even daring to breathe. The priest started to say mass, “Introibo ad altare Dei…” He kept repeating this, in the hopes of a response, but nothing… The candles went out, and the priest disappeared.

A long time after that adventure, the sailor decided to tell the priest in Plounéour-Trez about it. The priest suggested that he return and taught him the mass responses. The sailor went back the next year, on the same day, and the ceremony started up again. The petrified sailor took his courage in both hands and made the response.

At the end of the service, the priest thanked the sailor and explained that he was a soul in purgatory who was forced to come each year, on the anniversary of his death, to say mass in the little chapel, until some came and responded. That day, the sailor had finally freed him from his penance.

 

The Men Marz menhir - 1.4 kilometres

Haut de 8.50 mètres, le menhir d emen marz est l'un des plus grand du Finistère © E.Berthier - TCDL

Located in Plounéour-Brignogan-Plages, Men Marz is one of the biggest standing stones, but also one of the first to be Christianized in Brittany.
Erected somewhere between 4500 and 2500 BC, its base is not buried in the ground, but simply sits on the earth, in balance. Listed as a historic monument since 1889, it is only of the four tallest menhirs in all of France with 8.50 metres tall.

Married within the year!
There is a deep gouge in the menhir, about ⅔ up.

Our elders used to tell us that unmarried girls would go to the menhir in Pontusval, take a pebble and throw it at the lip of that gash. If it stayed in place, they would be married within the year.
Marriage was important part of life in those days and was often linked to fertility.


 

Discovery of lighthouses

Discovery of lighthouses

Brest region has the greatest concentration of lighthouses!

Mostly because of the geography of the sector with its rocky coasts and multiple islands.

Between "paradise" and "purgatory" (nicknames of the lighthouse), come and discover them with "La route des phares".