Phare des Baleines lighthouse.

© Jean-Luc Ichard/Getty Images/iStock

Phare des Baleines

Top choice in Île de Ré

For an overview of the island, follow the crowds to Phare des Baleines, the island's scarlet-tipped, 59m-tall lighthouse on its northwestern tip. Scale the dizzying, 257-step spiral staircase inside the 19th-century lighthouse (1854) for a sweeping coastal panorama and learn its history in the neighbouring Musée de la Mer, snug against a second older lighthouse (1682), now defunct and hence called the Vieille Tour (old tower).

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