Sentinels of the seas, the role of lighthouses in history
The Pontusval lighthouse was lit for the first time on September 15, 1869. It was built to serve as a relay between the Île Vierge lighthouse and the Île de Batz lighthouse, on this rocky coast where shipwrecks were, unfortunately, commonplace. Although lighthouses were primarily intended for maritime safety, some, such as Pontusval, served as a base for the German army during the Second World War. In fact, a remnant of a blockhouse can still be seen in the garden!
A historic monument!
The Pontusval lighthouse is one of the 14 lighthouses in Finistère classified as a Historic Monument:
- It's a lighthouse house: the house and lighthouse form a single building.
- It is 18 metres high and has a range of 10 miles (18 kilometers).
- This is a blackout beacon, emitting 3 flashes every 12 seconds.
- It was automated in 2003
Once a hamlet of Plounéour-Trez, Brignogan-Plages became an independent commune in 1932, benefiting from the boom in seaside tourism. 83 years later, the two towns joined forces again to create the commune of Plounéour-Brignogan-Plages, offering a diversity of landscapes and activities.
Profession: lighthouse keeper
A female lighthouse keeper was quite rare. Marie-Paule was hired in 1968, and was the last to light the lighthouse manually, in 2003.
Being a lighthouse keeper was a job that demanded good physical and psychological conditions. Climb the 50 steps, even if you were ill, even if you were 9 months pregnant. Cleaning the optics, drawing the curtains during the day to protect the bulb, and opening them in the evening to light the lamp. And repeat, every morning, every evening. Check that the cables can withstand storms, alert emergency services in the event of a boat in difficulty...
Marie-Paule, who left in November 2023, had obtained the right to continue living in the house at Pontusval lighthouse. The job of lighthouse keeper no longer exists as such today, as all lighthouses are automated and remotely controlled.
Grandma in the nettles
The "Mamie dans les orties" podcast explores the testimonies of our elders, offering a perspective on our past to better apprehend our future. As we delve into these stories, we discover what it meant to be a woman in the second half of the 20th century, and how advances in women's rights profoundly altered the lives of our grandmothers. We listen to the voices of the pioneers who won the right to vote, to have a bank account in their own name, to divorce, to have an abortion, and finally to live with greater freedom.
In April 2023, the Clap Audio team interviewed Marie-Paule. In it, she recounted her childhood, her experience as a janitor, but also as a mother, a sailor's wife and, quite simply, a woman.
Heaven? Hell? Purgatory?
Paradise, purgatory, hell... 3 names that classify the different types of lighthouses:
"Paradise" for lighthouses located on the coast, like Pontusval, "purgatory" for those located on rocky peninsulas, and "Hell" for lighthouses at sea, where isolation was almost total.
Clic-clac c'est dans la boîte!
Pontusval, a star lighthouse!
Let's get to the point! If you've never been to Pontusval lighthouse and you're having déjà vu, it's because it's one of the most photographed lighthouses in Brittany.one of the most photographed lighthouses in Brittany ! It's featured on book covers, supermarket products, advertisements and illustrations depicting Brittany... but it's rarely named or located!
A dragon in Pontusval: legend or reality?
Sensitive souls, don't read on... unless you're a bit curious! For the Côte des Légendes owes its name to no coincidence!
It is said that a dragon once lived not far from here, in the Élorn valley. Every Sunday, he made a meal of 3 local inhabitants. When Lord Elorn learns that the next on his list is his young son, he decides to sacrifice himself in his place and throw himself off a cliff. Two passing knights save him in extremis, slaying the dragon and throwing it into the sea at Pontusval.
We all know that dragons don't exist... So why the name Pontusval?
Pontusval comes from the Breton contraction "Poul beuz an aneval", meaning "abyss where the beast was drowned". There may well be some truth in this story... Mystery!
Blogger Evan from Brittany came to check it out... and we think he had a few nightmares after his visit!
The Dragon's Egg is an artistic installation, like several others on the Côte des Légendes, created as part of the Ribin' de l'Imaginaire. Imagined by visual artists Les Nouveaux Voisins, this structure made of wood burnt using a Japanese technique, in the shape of a giant egg, is also a shelter for walkers on the coastal path.
An exceptional natural environment
You don't have to travel halfway around the world to swim in crystal-clear waters! The Pontusval lighthouse stands in the middle of a magical environment: rocks singularly shaped rocks that stimulate the imagination, and wind-protected beaches on either side of the lighthouse. And the translucent, not-so-warm water invites you to swim and explore the underwater world!
Come and watch the sunset and wait for the lighthouse to light up to guide the boats: magical... and perfect for a romantic stroll!
Feel like gliding across the water in a kayak or paddle? The Centre nautique de la plage des Crapauds offers equipment rental.
Discover the Côte des Légendes from Pontusval lighthouse
The Pontusval lighthouse is the ideal starting point for a hike on the hike along the GR®34with a gourmet break at the Hôtel de la mer or Café du port. Or head west to discover Menehamwith its village of thatched cottages, artisan workshops and nature reserve. The round trip takes around 1h15 + the time needed to visit the site.
Discover the lighthouse route
The Brest Terres Océanes region, which stretches from the Côte des Légendes to the Bay of Douarnenez, is the area in France with the most lighthouses. area in France with the most lighthouses.. Only a few can be visited, such as the Île Vierge lighthouse in Plouguerneau or the Stiff lighthouse on Ouessant, the oldest in Brittany. Pontusval is not open to the public.