Erected at the north-most point of the island, the Phare des Baleines is the metaphorical bow of the Ile de Ré ship. The lighthouse looks out over one of the island’s most beautiful beaches, la plage de La Conche. The magnificent view is all yours if you are willing to climb up the 257 steps that lead to the top of the octagonal building!
The iconic lighthouse is located in an area at the far end of the island, known as La Pointe des Baleines. The name was given to the area after several whales were stranded on the beach centuries ago. It was only after two ships ran aground in the 17th century that it was decided to build a lighthouse to prevent anymore tragic accidents.
The original lighthouse quickly became obsolete as its light wasn’t powerful enough. A new Phare des Baleines was therefore built in 1849 under the orders of architect Léonce Reynaud. From its inauguration in 1854 until 1882 the lighthouse was powered by petrol before it was linked to the electric network after the Second World War.
The Phare de Baleines welcomes over 160,000 people every year and is classed as a historical monument by the French State. So hop on your bikes, pack your baguettes, ham and cheese in your bag and whizz off to admire the view from the top of this famous building!
It’s a 40 minute bike ride from Maison de Charme, our holiday accommodation in La Couarde. If you’re in one our holiday houses in Saint Martin de Ré then pencil in around an hour of pedaling to get to the lighthouse.
Find out more about the Phare des Baleines on the official website.