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Cordouan under restoration

Cordouan News

The lighthouse gets a facelift!


Here we go again!

As it has done each winter for the last three years, the lighthouse is closing its doors to visitors and being entrusted to the stonemasons tasked with restoring its former beauty. 
Now that the entire roof of the encircling building (2010, 2013, 2014) has been made watertight, the shaft of the tower itself will be next to undergo restoration work. It will take four winters to finish restoring the oldest part of the shaft, which marked its 400th birthday in spring 2011. As project owner, The State has entrusted the first part of this huge and painstaking task to the Compagnons de Saint-Jacques (a firm specialising in the restoration of historic monuments). The work will focus on the eastern elevation, which has suffered the most wear and tear: it will involve inspecting every stone and every piece of grouting; analysing, repairing and sometimes replacing any element that has not stood the test of time. Scaffolding on a grand scale has already been erected.
And the programme does not stop there: two of the lighthouse's four bedrooms will also undergo a thorough refurbishment to reveal the oak hardwood flooring and the curved pitch pine panelling characteristic of the interior restoration carried out under Napoleon III.

An unusual building site

As in 2013 and 2014, the teams of workers will be housed in the lighthouse and share in the daily life of the keepers. This year, however, due to a lack of sufficient sleeping quarters, individual cabins will be installed on the first floor of the tower shaft, in the King's Apartments.
Every last vestige of the site will have disappeared by April, however, when the lighthouse opens its doors to the first visitors of the 2016 season, who will probably get the chance to witness some of the finishing touches of this first phase of restoration. The whole of the lighthouse will then be handed back over to its visitors, before being entrusted to its "surgeons" again for the winter of 2016-2017….

An exemplary financial partnership  

At a time when public funding is under great pressure, both at local and national level, an exemplary financial partnership makes it possible to pursue such a costly programme of work (€1,800,000 for the first two winters) carried out at sea  (with weekly helicopter and boat trips ferrying personnel and materials back and forth).  The Ministries of Culture and of Ecology share 50% of the bill between them, whilst the remaining 50% is split between the Aquitaine Region and the two départments of Gironde and Charente-Maritime.

The lighthouse and all of its admirers thank them for their unwavering support.