"PHARES" (Lighthouses) at Musée national de la Marine in Paris

From March 07, 2012 to November 04, 2012
  • Changing of the guard by helicopter

    Changing of the guard by helicopter

    © Marine nationale

  • Assembly of lighthouses, 3 august 1901 in Paris, in Le Monde illustré - Sgap, (19e)

    Assembly of lighthouses, 3 august 1901 in Paris, in Le Monde illustré - Sgap, (19e)

    © Musée National de la Marine

"PHARES" (Lighthouses) at Musée national de la Marine in Paris 75 Paris fr

Powerful imagination

When approaching the coast, navigation is a remarkable activity, especially at night. The beam of light makes its appearance and guides the sailor or navigator, thereby guaranteeing his safety. Whereas today other techniques are used to work out location (yet without replacing the lighthouse), lighthouses have kept all of their symbolic dimension. They are witnesses to the struggle against peril at sea, as well as to the links that unite land and sea. Through their mythical and fantastic dimension and through the mysterious life of the lighthouse keeper, they have profoundly marked our imaginations.

National heritage

From Fresnel and his lens to the factories of Paris where metal towers and optics are produced and the myth of the lighthouse keeper, France has a passionate relationship with lighthouses. They are a heritage of our coast which is known all around the world. Lighthouses are now in a phase of transition, after the departure of the lighthouse keepers. A reconversion will however allow the around 150 buildings that mark the landscape of the French coast to be preserved. Now they have become heritage sites, lighthouses are opening their doors to visitors, who are fascinated by their history and architecture.

Discover a fascinating story

Over 1,000 m2, the public is invited to discover the lights of the sea: understanding the history and functioning of the lighthouses, finding out about the men who created or served them and showing an interest  in the culture that theyhave created. The Lighthouses exhibition is formed around three main focal points: an historical and scientific approach, information about the professions and the men linked to the  lighthouses, and their mythical and artistic meaning. With 650 objects on display, the circuit is punctuated by audiovisual material and light installations.

Immersion in the world of lighthouses

A world of the intimate confronted with the immensity of the ocean, the world of the lighthouse fascinates through its extraordinary and mysterious nature. The image of the beam of light appearing in the distance to guide ships has formed a part of our collective imaginations for centuries now. As soon as they enter the exhibition, visitors are plunged into the sensory world of lighthouses, thanks to a system named 'the optical ballet'. Here in a world of shadows and lights, it is a question of understanding the emotion felt by the sailor on seeing this light source surging out of the unknown as the coast is approached. These are lenses, true works of art and technology that enlighten the public. The light effect created by the rotation of superb pieces of glass makes it possible to immerse yourself in the sensitive atmosphere of these 'sentinels of the sea'.

Things to see

Point of interest