A third of the 900 lighthouses around the French coast are in Brittany. But it wasn't until building techniques improved in the 17th century that the most treacherous offshore rocks could be marked.

Even then some of the towers were almost impossible to build - the Jument lighthouse, south-west of the island of Ouessant, in Finistere, took seven years to finish, because the rock on which it sits is only barely uncovered by the tide for a couple of hours each day.

"La Jument" lighthouse

Once installed, it was far from easy to man the lights - transfers of staff and supplies were delicate operations, and had to be done in relatively calm conditions using a rope winched between the boat and the lighthouse. These days most of Brittany's lighthouses are remote-controlled.

A museum of lighthouses has been set up in the old electricity-generating station at Creac'h, on the island of Ouessant; the lighthouse at Creac'h is the most powerful in all of Europe.

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