Lighthouses of France

Auteur : René Gast

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L'origine des phares se confond avec l'origine de la navigation. Dès que les premiers marins se risquèrent dans les zones dangereuses et osèrent affronter les terreurs et les maléfices d'une nuit en mer, la nécessité d'une signalisation optique s'imposa. ©Electre 2024

The French coast is lined with numerous magnificent, historical lighthouses. A handful of these are still home to lighthouse keepers, carrying on the tradition of a centuries-old profession now on the verge of extinction. This book recounts the lives of these keepers and their predecessors, and tells of the solitude, risks and perils they face every day. Showcasing Jean Guichard's famously dramatic photographs of some of France's finest lights, Lighthouses of France is more than just a book on lighthouse history : it is also a wonderful photographic tribute to man's bravery and determination in the face of the eternal perils of the ocean.

The lighthouses of France are a proud part of the country's national heritage, both in terms of their architectural splendor and the stupendous feats of engineering they represent. The sixteenth-century tower of Cordouan, widely recognized as one of the most beautiful lighthouses in the world, was one of the first edifices in France to be classified as a historic monument, along with the cathedral of Notre Dame. The construction of La Jument or Ar-Men on rocky outcrops off the Brittany coast was a prodigious achievement in the face of the steep-est of odds. In building towers such as these, man pitted himself against the elements at their most savage-and won.

But the history of French lighthouses is also the more modest, humble story of the men and women who have lived and worked in these towers, isolated at sea for months on end. For centuries, they have battled with the sea to ensure that come wind, come storm, the light burns on, to guide sailors and fishermen back to safe harbor. Unlike many other countries, France has resisted the trend toward total automation, and in a handful of small ports and seaside towns, the lighthouse keeper is still a well-known and respected figure. René Gast's text provides a fascinating glimpse into the daily lives, past and present, of these important members of the community.

Throughout the book, Jean Guichard's iconic photographs illustrate only too well the fury of the Atlantic ocean and the perilous working conditions the lighthouse keepers face : eyen today at Kéréon light, keepers are winched down to the deck of the relief boat by hand, dangling from a rope over the crashing sea. But Guichard captures images of lighthouses in more tranquil conditions as well, perfectly communicating the romantic calm but also the solitude their situation entails. Featuring additional vintage photographs and etchings, extracts from logbooks, architectural drawings detailing developments in lighthouse engineering, and a map of France locating all the lighthouses discussed, Lighthouses of France is an essential volume for all those interested in this eternally fascinating subject.

Fiche Technique

Paru le : 03/04/2002

Thématique : BTP

Auteur(s) : Auteur : René Gast

Éditeur(s) : Flammarion

Collection(s) : Non précisé.

Contributeur(s) : Photographe : Jean Guichard

Série(s) : Non précisé.

ISBN : Non précisé.

EAN13 : 9782080107152

Reliure : Broché

Pages : 144

Hauteur: 31.0 cm / Largeur 25.0 cm

Épaisseur: 1.6 cm

Poids: 1135 g