The lighthouse of
Chassiron, at the extreme western point of the island of Oléron,
is a place that you will never grow tired of visiting, even if
you don’t climb the 224 stairs steps at each visit.
Its environment and the possibility of walks along the cliffs
are much appreciated by visitors.
The pointe of
Chassiron, formerly called "The End of the World ", is situated
in the municipality of Saint-Denis d'Oléron. The lighthouse is
easy to find and well sign-posted as soon as one crosses the
bridge to the island of Oléron.
In the summer season,
one has a first impression of a fun fair with merry-go-rounds
and various stands. But do not be mislead by this, because after
passing the big car parks, which are free and well equipped to
deal with the flow of visitors, you soon arrive at a beautiful
area where the path leads to the lighthouse.
Open all year long
The lighthouse is open
all year long, 7 days a week, and continuously from 10 am until
8 pm from July 1st to August 31st. The entrance fee
is 2,00 Euros and this price includes a well-presented leaflet
with attractive photographs.
For information, reception and visits, phone 05 46 75 18
The history of the lighthouse
A small museum in the
room near the entrance gives you a full introduction to the
lighthouse of Chassiron.
Panels on its history are very clear
and for the "scientists", the evolution of the technology of
lamps and optics and references to Fresnel are quite interesting. We summarise below the
texts of both panels on the construction of the lighthouse:
" Further to a decision of Colbert, a first tower, 33 metres
high, was built on the site and finished in 1685. It operated
for 150 years.
The first stone of the current building was laid on September
4th, 1834. It was inaugurated in December, 1836.
Since then, technical equipment has advanced. Indeed, the
lighthouse operated successively with oil of colza, mineral oil,
gas of acetylene, to be finally electrified. "
As regards materials,
the stones come from the quarries of Crazannes, in
Charente-Maritime, the sand is extracted from the nearest dunes.
The granite comes from Vendee. Timber consists of oak of Holland
and of red pine from Prussia or from Finland. The lead comes
from Holland and the iron, intended for the serrurerie, from
Originally, the tower
was painted white. However, in the grey, daylight weather, it
was difficult to distinguish it from the lighthouse des Baleines
(island of Ré) and the first accident occurred in 1905.
Following the successive complaints of the captains of vessels,
the decision to paint it black and white was made on November
13th, 1925. "
An exceptional panoramic view
Having climbed the 224
steps (it is the figure indicated on the leaflet, I didn't
count), which lead to the top, you arrive on the balcony and you
are rewarded with a magnificent view of the coast and the island
of Oléron with Fort Boyard in the distance.
The circular balcony
gives an exceptional panoramic view over the islands, the coast,
the ocean and the Pertuis d' Antioche, which is the part of the
sea between the islands of Ré and Oléron.
Some hundred metres from the lighthouse, looking towards the
coast, the Tour d'Antioche is clearly visible, This is the
beacon that alerts sailors to the presence of rocks, A last
glance to memorise the geography of the island of Oléron and one
starts the descent, but the visit does not end at the foot of
the stairs. You should not leave the lighthouse without visiting
the small museum in the room near the entrance.
Afterwards, take time to walk along the cliffs which surround
the lighthouse and to see, at low tide, the famous locks for
fishing, stony walls which retain the fish at low tide.
On leaving the car
park, join Saint-Denis d'Oléron by taking the small road "
Saint-Denis by the coast ". The road goes along the west coast
for approximately 5 km. The colours of the green meadows and
marshes and the blue sea give an impression of a vast and