A must-see

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The Tour de la Lanterne: lighthouse, prison and art

Vue de la tour de la Lanterne depuis le chenal

Discover an original tower that has served different functions over the centuries. And, once you reach the top, an incredible panorama!

Many names, many functions

Did you know that the Tour de la Lanterne is an ancient medieval lighthouse? It was even mentioned by Rabelais!

We entered the port of Lanternois. There, on a high tower, Pantagruel saw the lantern of La Rochelle, which gave us good clarity.

In the late Middle Ages, a Gothic spire was built on top of the original tower to make it visible from afar: the tower became a landmark for ships. A stone lantern was added, and the tower was transformed into a lighthouse!

More than 600 graffiti

In the 17th century, the tower became a prison. During your visit, you'll be amazed by the impressive amount of graffiti on the walls, floors, rooms and staircases...

These are the traces left by prisoners incarcerated in the tower over the centuries. Some of them are real works of art! 

Graffiti représentant un navire et les tours de La Rochelle
Graffiti représentant un navire et les tours de La Rochelle

© Centre des monuments nationaux / Sébastien Arnault

Art and heritage

A concrete floor!

On the fifth level, in the ceremonial hall, enter the spectacular Jehan Mérichon room (mayor of La Rochelle, who financed the construction of the spire in the 15th century) and admire the originally patterned concrete floor.

Created in 1985 by French artist Jean-Pierre Pincemin (1944-2005).

Mirror and stained glass

On the top level are three original and surprising works designed by Swiss artist Gottfried Honegger (1917-2016): stained glass windows illuminating the staircase and a large mirror topped by a mobile in the spire. All these works were commissioned by the French government in 1985.

Finally, once you've reached the top, what a reward: a breathtaking panorama awaits you!

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