Phare de Gatteville – Gatteville-le-Phare, France - Atlas Obscura

Gatteville-le-Phare, France

Phare de Gatteville

A beautiful lighthouse with as many steps as days in the year, as many windows as weeks, and as many levels as months. 

This scenic beacon is the second tallest lighthouse in France and the third tallest traditional lighthouse in the world. It has as many steps as days of the year, as many windows as weeks, and as many levels as months.

The tower is perched along the shore of the English Channel to aid sailors navigating the strong currents and stormy seas around the tip of Barfleur, an area littered with shipwrecks. When the first version of the lighthouse was built in 1774, it stood only 82 feet tall.

In the 19th century, a second, taller lighthouse was constructed next to the first one. Originally, the first lighthouse was meant to be upgraded, but it wasn’t wide enough to support the additional height the architect proposed, so its lantern was removed, and it was transformed into a semaphore tower that still stands today. The current lighthouse was completed in 1835 and looms at an impressive 247 feet tall.

The lighthouse is still in use. In addition to guiding ships, it also serves as a fantastic vantage point, which rewards anyone willing to climb its 365 stairs with panoramic views over the Channel. It’s a great spot to watch the sun rise above the sea. The foot of the lighthouse even houses a small museum full of drawings, photos, and objects that tell its history.