Exhibition at the Musée de la Marine (French Maritime Museum) from 7 March to 4 November 2012.
The history of France's rich lighthouse heritage starts with the monumental Cordouan lighthouse, built in 1611. Today, 150 "sea sentinels" cast their intermittent beams of light across our 5,500 km of coastline (mainland France and the country's overseas territories). It was in Paris in the 19th century that the industrial age of the lighthouse began with research, scientific laboratories and manufacturing. Boasting the Eiffel Tower as its emblem, Paris truly became the "capital of lighthouses".
Isolated and often living in harsh conditions, men and women - whose profession has now disappeared - devoted their lives daily to these "fires of the sea".
The lighthouse myth originates from the Pharos of Alexandria, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The symbolic dimension of these exemplary constructions created a "lighthouse" culture, particularly in literature, cinema and music, to the great delight of both collectors and tourists.