The Chauveau Lighthouse, facing the point of the same name off Rivedoux-Plage, is the only sea based lighthouse in Charente-Maritime.
Chauveau Lighthouse was built during the reign of Louis XIV, at the instigation of Colbert, then in charge of coastal defense and the committee of t coastal lighthouses. Colbert wanted to bring security to maritime traffic in one of the busiest shipping lanes in France while also providing military observation posts. The lighthouse system provides beacons for navigators and pilot ships at anchor in La Rochelle, Rochefort, Ré and Oléron.
The lighthouse was built between 1839 and 1842 by the chief engineer Garnier and his deputy Potel. It is located about a mile from the Point of Chauveau. It is over 30 metres tall, of which 27 metres are above sea level.
The Chauveau tower building is trumpet-shaped. The flared base and concave profile ensure a solid fixation to the seafloor and a greater resistance to the shock of the waves. This tower is tapered at the base with an oak structure covered with smooth masonry and painted white. It has a strikingly fine silhouette, unique for a lighthouse at sea.
January 1874: substitution of mineral oil with rapeseed oil.
In 1906, rapeseed oil is replaced by petroleum vapour.
In 1968, the lighthouse was automated, following the installation of a wind turbine.
The lighthouse still contains all its original period furniture. A renovation and modernisation programme is planned. In addition to wind energy already used, solar panels will be installed. The lamp will be made more energy-efficient. Unfortunately Chaveau lighthouse is not currently open to visitors.
Booklet "Our history... The Lighthouse Chauveau" is available for download (click on the picture to the right)
ATTENTION:The area around Chauveau is closed for cockle fishing between 1 November and 28 February every year, by order.