Cap Fréhel is a peninsula in Côtes-d’Armor, in France, in the northern Brittany region, which extends from the Côte d’Émeraude to the Golfe de Saint-Malo. Despite no towns or villages are situated on the peninsula (all the undulating terrain is covered in moorland and marshes, which make it difficult to construct any structure), there are two lighthouses, one from the 17th century and the other one from 1950, located at the tip of it. The peninsula is surrounded in the major part by cliffs, which make it difficult to access it via sea. Cap Fréhel gives its name to Cape Freels when sailors from Newfoundland begin to fish Atlantic cod, and was also the finish of Stage 5 of the 2011 Tour de France.
The first lighthouse, Tour Vauban, is still standing. In 1694, Marshal Vauban commissioned the construction of a series of coastal forts and watchtowers in order to protect the French shores from English invasions. In 1702, his assistant Jean-Simeon Garangeau, supervised the construction of the 15m high round tower. This first watchtower was only used during the winter months, and was powered by coal burnt in the open on the roof terrace. Only in 1717 It was lit throughout the year. Lamps with sixty spherical reflectors powered by vegetable oil and gathered in a lantern replaced the basic brazier in 1774, and new lamps equipped with eight parabolic reflectors, that transmitted every 135 seconds, replaced them in 1821. They could be seen until a distance of 21 nautical miles!
In 1840, the architect Léonce Reynaud, who was Director of the prestigious Ecole des Ponts et Chaussées and the Director of Lighthouses and Beacons from 1848 to 1878, built a second lighthouse. He equipped his 22m high octagonal tower with a Fresnel lens with sixteen half lenses which emitted a signal every 30 seconds, a signal visible 25 miles away from the coast. The lighthouse was finished in 1875 and powered with mineral oil, but its electrification never took place. It was improved in 1903 with a lens of a focal length of 0.70 m with 4 panels, powered with petrol and transmitted every 10 seconds. The Germans used the lighthouse as a watchtower during World War II, however, they dynamited it before retreating on August 11, 1944.
The old Tour Vauban was therefore re-used until the inauguration of the third and current lighthouse which was built between 1946 and 1950. The current lighthouse is 32m high square stone lighthouse, stands in the centre of a U-shape building. The lantern peaks at 103m above sea level, and watches over the Bay of St-Brieuc, the Bay of St-Malo and the surroundings. In fact, It’s visible at a distance of 200m with fog and of 100km in good weather!
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