Staying in a Lighthouse: Is This Your Dream?

Staying in a Lighthouse: Is This Your Dream?

What is it about lighthouses, anyway?

What is it that makes lighthouses so iconic, mysterious and romantic? Why are they such powerful symbols in our culture?  And why is the idea of an overnight stay in a lighthouse such a compelling and enticing one?

There’s no simple answer to that question, of course. Most lighthouses no longer work the way they once did: they’re often unmanned, and some are no longer used at all. They’ve either been automated, or simply aren’t needed anymore, as we now have all manner of satellite and GPS technology.

Is it the bygone era? Is it the romanticism of heroic acts?

Perhaps lighthouses appeal to our romantic and literary sensibilities. Does their wonder come from their ability to snatch men and women from the dark clutches of the sea? After all, there’s nothing like a real or symbolic saving light in the darkness, to stir the soul and the imagination…


The Cordouan, Versailles of the Sea

Lighthouses commonly stand where the meeting points between the land and sea are at their most dangerous and violent: places that threatened humans as they ventured more and more to explore the oceans and colonize new lands. They represent danger in a certain sense– and human victory over that danger. There’s a sense of redemption in the image of a sea-battered old lighthouse sending out beacons of hope to lost seafarers.

Who hasn’t seen dramatic old pictures of Brittany’s great lighthouses – and attempts by the ocean to completely swallow them? These iconic lighthouses in France remain compelling tourist destinations, many situated on the “Finistère” coastline that meets the Atlantic Ocean.

Both the Atlantic and Pacific coastlines abound with these stirringly beautiful architectural structures, isolated on their stunning rocky outcrops and peaks. No wonder they inspire artists, photographers and travellers of all kinds to visit and admire them.

Perhaps the queen of these is Cordouan, at the mouth of the Gironde Estuary, near Bordeaux. Also known as the Versailles of the Sea owing to its sheer scope and grandeur, it was built under the reign of King Louis XIV, and is the oldest lighthouse in France.

Ways to Visit the Cordouan Lighthouse

You can visit this iconic French structure by boat – and it’s most definitely worth it! This active lighthouse is also home to an onsite  museum. There are three departure points for the ferry, all within close reach of Bordeaux. This is an adventure that’s perfect for the intrepid experiential traveller. 

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What About Staying Overnight?

Some lighthouses have been retired from ‘active service’, however– luckily for us curious travellers– they’ve been put back into service as rental holiday cottages or bed and breakfast style guesthouses. These are just a few examples of lighthouses where you can stay overnight, all located in the UK and Ireland. There are plenty more, however: sign up for our forthcoming guide below to learn about some of the world’s most magical lighthouses to lodge in. 

 

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Pedestrian Travel: The World’s Most-Walkable Cities

Pedestrian Travel: The World’s Most-Walkable Cities

Walking is one of the best ways to get to know a city because you get to experience the on-the-ground and in-person side of a city center. Faced and interacting with real people, you find places you never would have seen in a bus or car. As a traveler, it’s also far easier to get around cities with good pedestrian areas, since you can forgo renting a car altogether. 

Walking is free, environmentally friendly, and allows you to really take in the ambience and character of a destination. Let’s take a look at some fantastic, walkable cities you can experience almost wholly on foot!

Venice

Venice is one of the most walkable pedestrian cities in the world due to its enormous network of pedestrian streets that are totally free of cars. Most of Venice is car-free, and you have to either walk or take a water taxi to get around. Despite its dense infrastructure and the abundance of canals and bridges, the city is beautiful and flat, making for excellent walking.

Read related: The World’s Most Romantic Places For Honeymoons

Copenhagen

Denmark’s capital city has a medieval street grid and plenty to see, and its main street was converted into a pedestrian walkway. As a result, you can get most places in the city without a car, from Rosenberg Castle to the tidy markets in the city center. It’s a beautiful place to experience urban life on the water, and you can always take a water taxi if your feet need a break!

Seattle

America’s Pacific northwest metropolis is a model of North American walkability due to the local government’s regulations on parking spaces and pedestrian infrastructure. The iconic Pike Place Market is a great example of this type of active urban planning, and you can see and do most things on foot or by renting readily available bicycles.

Paris

With its gorgeous riverside quays, narrow little streets and glamorous, old-world boulevards, Paris is certainly one of the most romantic places to aimlessly walk. Whether you go as a couple or solo, spend time just wandering through the centuries-old streets of the world’s most-visited city. You’ll discover things you never would have, otherwise.

Read related: Is Buying the Paris Pass Worth the Expense? 

Houten

One of the most famously anti-car cities in the world is the unassuming Dutch town of Houten. The entire inner urban area of Houten is for bikes and pedestrians only, and the city’s cars are served by an external ring road only. Inside the ring is a network of 80 miles of paths for cyclists and foot traffic. 66% of traffic in Houten is pedestrians and cyclists.

Bordeaux

Southwest France’s UNESCO World Heritage site is a magnificent 18th-century city with one of the best pedestrian walking areas in the world. Pedestrian streets offer clear views of local restaurants and shops on either side of the walkway, and you can get to most places in the city by foot. The Rue Sainte-Catherine is said to be the longest pedestrian street in Europe and at all times of day these pedestrian hubs are teeming with life and energy.

Marrakesh

Another UNESCO World Heritage Site, Marrakesh is a labyrinth of vendors selling woven goods, spices, and their famous babouches. You can walk from street markets to the historic Koutoubia Mosque and see the ruins of the 16th century El Badi Palace. Marrakech is unique and stunning in its variety and history.

Which ones of these and others, have you visited? Let us know in the comments.

These cities are truly modern wonders for their accessibility and ecologicallysound infrastructure, and we recommend adding them to your short-list of trip destinations if you like to travel where your feet can take you!