Chassiron: an asset for Charente-Maritime throughout history
A 33-metres-high tower was first erected by Colbert to protect the Pertuis d'Antioche pass, a necessity to secure the sea route that supplied the royal port of Rochefort, an essential military arsenal for the military defence of the Kingdom of France.
At the time, the two other lighthouses on the coast - Cordouan and "Les Baleines" - could only project one light. So in order to guide the sailors properly, the Colbert Tower was illuminated by two wood fires.
With the increase in maritime traffic in the following centuries, the Chassiron lighthouse had become inefficient. Moreover, it was urgent to intervene, as the cliff, being more and more eaten away by the sea, threatened the building. This is why a second lighthouse was built between 1834 and 1836, whose foundations were anchored three metres deep under the rock. The stones of the building were also used to build the base for the Statue of Liberty and Cologne Cathedral. Famous stones indeed !
Technology evolves, so does brightness!
The lighthouse was initially equipped with a vegetable oil lamp before being operated from 1895 thanks to oil gas produced by a gasworks installed at the foot of the lighthouse.
Then between 1902 and 1905 the lighting was done with acetylene gas and then the gas was abandoned in favour of the electricity fairy with the introduction of a 2400 Watts lamp. After all these technological evolutions, the lamp works today with a 250 Watts bulb with metal halides which allows, thanks to its 8 light beams, to be visible up to 62 miles.
The lighthouse today
From the top of this magnificent building (once you have climbed the 224 steps!) you can admire La Rochelle, the Isle of Ré and of course the northern part of Oléron.
As under Colbert, it was still necessary to differentiate Chassiron from the lighthouse of "Les Baleines", which is why three black stripes were applied to the whole façade.
Since 1998, there has been no keeper to ensure the lighthouse is in good working order, ensured by the office of lighthouses and beacons and supervised by a State Public Works controller.
Adults and children alike will be seduced by this cultural heritage which offers a breathtaking view of the ocean. You can also visit beautiful gardens and get to know the local marine environment, thanks to a museum offering exhibitions and educational workshops.
Guided tours are offered at the lighthouse, they will allow you to rediscover the lighthouse in the light of the history of France. Stroll at the foot of the cliffs and discover the biodiversity of the rocky foreshore and the fish locks, or lend an ear to the tales and legends that surround the semaphore and the Antioch rock.
The lighthouse is a great destination for an educational walk overlooking the waves of Oléron: you will have enjoyed the fresh air before returning to your camping pitch at the campsite !