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Phare de la Tranche sur Mer.JPG

The Pointe du Grouin du Cou lighthouse (sometimes called the La Tranche-sur-Mer lighthouse) is a French lighthouse, located on the eponymous point in the southern part of the Vendée department; it guards the entrance to the Pertuis Breton on the Île de Ré, on the west side of La Tranche-sur-Mer. The lighthouse, constructed in 1953 to a design by Maurice Durand, replaces an earlier tower that was destroyed by retreating German troops during World War II[1].


The lighthouse at Pointe du Grouin du Cou is a 52-foot tall Art Deco tower built in concrete; it is octagonal, and has a lantern and gallery as well. The tower is white, while the lantern is painted black. Its focal plane is 95 feet above sea level, and it shows a flash of light every five seconds; depending on the direction, the light shown is either white, red, or green[1]. The signal is currently halogen powered[2].


The first lighthouse on the site was lit on July 1, 1831; it was a small cylindrical tourelle encased in masonry, and showed a fixed white light. A short tower, it stood only 27 feet tall, and was intended to warn ships' captains off of the treacherous limestone rocks that could be found in the area. A taller light, 46 feet tall, was installed in May 1867, and also showed a fixed white light. This was changed in 1893 to a light which flashed every five seconds, and which showed white and red sectors. In 1906 the signal was converted to gas power, and in 1931 it received a supplementary green sector[3]. The lighthouse was also powered by other means at various points in its career, being converted at various times to mercury, vegetable oil, and mineral oil[4].

The lighthouse at the point was completely demolished on the night of July 24, 1944 by German soldiers. A temporary wooden pylon was erected soon after, being lit on October 10 of the following year[4]; the old lighthouse was not permanently replaced, however, until 1953. On April 25 of that year the new tower showed its light, an electric signal[4], for the first time; it was tended by a keeper until 1985, when it was automated[3]. Today the lighthouse is controlled automatically from Les Sables-d'Olonne; its property is still owned by the government, and is off-limits to visitors[2].


Coordinates: 46°20′40″N 1°27′49″W / 46.34444°N 1.46361°W / 46.34444; -1.46361



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