Île Vierge

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Île Vierge is located in Finistère
Île Vierge
Île Vierge
Location of Île Vierge within Finistère

Île Vierge (Breton language: Enez-Werc'h) is a 6-hectare (15-acre)[1] islet lying 1.5 kilometres (0.93 mi) off the north-west coast of Brittany, opposite the village of Lilia.[2] It is in the commune of Plouguerneau, in the département of Finistère.[2] It is the location of the tallest stone lighthouse in Europe,[2][3] and the tallest "traditional lighthouse" in the world.[4] The International Hydrographic Organization specifies Île Vierge as marking the south-western limit of the English Channel.[5]


About 1450, the Conventual Franciscans established an abbey on the island.[2] The name "Île Vierge" probably comes from a chapel dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary.[2] In 1507, the monks moved to Aber Wrac'h on the mainland.[2] In 1844, the French state purchased the island [2] from sieur Goyon de Coëpel for 6,000 francs.[1]

The lighthouses[edit]

Île Vierge lighthouse
LocationÎle Vierge, Finistère
Coordinates48°38′20″N 4°34′03″W / 48.638888°N 4.567493°W / 48.638888; -4.567493
Constructed1845 (first)
Constructionstone tower (first)
granite tower (current)
Height31 metres (102 ft) (first)
82.5 metres (271 ft) (current)
Shapesquare tower with balcony and lantern (first)
tapered cylindrical tower with balcony and lantern (current)
Markingswhite tower and lantern (first)
unpainted tower, green lantern dome (current)
Heritagemonument historique classé Edit this on Wikidata
First lit1902 (current)
Automated2010, 2002 Edit this on Wikidata
Focal height77 metres (253 ft) (current)
Lens4 Fresnel lenses
Range50 kilometres (31 mi)[6]
CharacteristicFl W 5s.
Inner staircase

The first lighthouse was a square tower 33 metres (108 ft) high constructed in 1842–45.[2] It started operation on 15 August 1845,[2] feast day of the Assumption of the Virgin.[7] It had a fixed white light visible for 14 nautical miles (26 km; 16 mi).[2] It remained in use while the second lighthouse was under construction in 1896–1902. A foghorn was installed in 1952, replaced in 1993 by an electric beacon.[2]

The newer lighthouse is 82.5 metres (271 ft) tall, made of blocks of granite.[8] The external face is a truncated cone; the interior face is cylindrical, lined with 12,500 opaline glass tiles made by Saint-Gobain.[2] There are five steps to the front door; inside, 360 steps of stone and 32 of iron lead to the lamp platform.[2] The electric lamp was installed in 1952 on the original mechanical turning plate, sitting in a bath of mercury.[2] The plate was replaced with an electric motor in 1983.[2] The lamp has four lenses with a focal length of 0.5m.[2] The twin beam gives a white flash every 5 seconds, visible for 27 nautical miles (50 km; 31 mi).[2] Electrical generators were installed in 1959, supplemented in 1967–1994 by two wind turbines.[2] The light and rotation are activated automatically by a photoelectric sensor.[2] Although the lighthouse is automated, the site is still staffed.[9]

The island is open to the public from April to September, as is the lighthouse, by appointment.[2] The number of visitors was 5,944 in 2003; 5,974 in 2004; 7,371 in 2005.[10] Both lighthouses are a listed monument since 2011.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "DDE 29: L'Île Vierge". DDE du Finistère (in French). Ministry of Ecology, Energy, Sustainable Development and Sea. 21 September 2005. Retrieved 20 December 2009.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t "Phare de l'île Vierge" [l'île Vierge Lighthouse]. Sécurité maritime - Les Phares et Balises (in French). France: Ministry of Ecology, Energy, Sustainable Development and Sea. 30 June 2006. Retrieved 19 December 2009.
  3. ^ a b Base Mérimée: Phares de l'île Vierge, Ministère français de la Culture. (in French)
  4. ^ Rowlett, Russ. "The Tallest Lighthouses". The Lighthouse Directory. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
  5. ^ Limits of Oceans and Seas (PDF) (3rd + corrections ed.). International Hydrographic Organization. 1971. p. 42 [corrections to page 13]. Retrieved 19 December 2009.
  6. ^ Jollands, Beverley; Fisher, Paul (2011). 100 Landmarks of the World. Parragon. pp. 92–93. ISBN 978-1-4454-3779-8.
  7. ^ Lessard, Anne. "Le phare de l'île Vierge" [l'île Vierge Lighthouse]. Patrimoine maritime (in French). bretagne.com. Retrieved 20 December 2009.
  8. ^ Rowlett, Russ. "Lighthouses of France: Northern Finistère". The Lighthouse Directory. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Retrieved January 21, 2016.
  9. ^ "Automatisation programme" (PDF). Planete TP : tout sur les Travaux publics. Paris: ASCO-TP (Association pour la Connaissance des Travaux Publics). 18 February 2008. Retrieved 20 December 2009.
  10. ^ "4 – Le patrimoine des phares et balises" [4 - The heritage of lighthouses and beacons] (MS Word). Phare d'Eckmühl, Commune de Penmarc'h: Travaux d'expertise du phare: Dossier de presse (Lighthouse of Eckmühl (Penmarc'h), Commune de Penmarc'h: Specialised works on the lighthouse: Press kit) (in French). Direction départementale de l’Equipement du Finistère. p. 4. Retrieved 20 December 2009.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 48°38′20″N 4°34′09″W / 48.63889°N 4.56917°W / 48.63889; -4.56917