Pointe du Grouin du Cou lighthouse

Pointe du Grouin du Cou lighthouse

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 IIcite web|url = http://www.unc.edu/~rowlett/lighthouse/bsc.htm |title = Lighthouses of France's Central Biscay Coast |accessdate = 2008-06-29] .


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. The signal is currently halogen poweredcite web|url = http://robert.carceller.free.fr/lum20/phare/pag375.html |title = Phare du Grouin du Cou |accessdate = 2008-06-29] .


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 of 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 sectorcite web|url = http://pagesperso-orange.fr/phares-de-france/phare/groin-du-cou.html |title = groin-du-cou |accessdate = 2008-06-29] . The lighthouse was also powered Fact|date=June 2008 by other means at various points in its career, being converted at various times to mercury, vegetable oil, and mineral oilcite web|url = http://www.culture.gouv.fr/public/mistral/merimee_fr?ACTION=RETROUVER&FIELD_98=DENO&VALUE_98=phare&NUMBER=73&GRP=1&REQ=%28%28phare%29%20%3aDENO%20%29&USRNAME=nobody&USRPWD=4%24%2534P&SPEC=1&SYN=1&IMLY=&MAX1=1&MAX2=1&MAX3=100&DOM=Tous |title = Ministère de la culture - Mérimée |accessdate = 2008-06-29] .

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; 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, for the first time; it was tended by a keeper until 1985, when it was automated. 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.


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