The Amedee Lighthouse was France’s first metal lighthouse and it boasts a unique history.
In 1861, due to the many shipwrecks of boats entering the lagoon, Paris ordered a lighthouse to be built for Noumea. Mr. Rigolet, a French engineer from the Eiffel Tower workshops in Paris, started to work on this outstanding monument in 1862.
According to one of the clauses in Mr. Rigolet’s contract, the lighthouse had to be assembled outside his workshop in France. For two years, the lighthouse towered above Paris, standing 56 meters tall. After that it was dismantled and divided into 1,265 pieces, weighing 387,953 kilos in total. It was then transported along the Seine River to the port of Le Havre for the final stage of its long voyage to New Caledonia.
After ten months of intense work by military personnel and local workers, it was erected on the Amedee Island. It was first illuminated on the 15th November 1865, the Saint’s day of the Empress Eugenie, Napoleon III’s wife. Its light clearly shows the entrance to the passage of Boulari, one of only three natural passages through the coral reef surrounding New Caledonia.
The Amedee lighthouse towers 56 metres above the small island, which is only 400 meters long and 270 meters wide, 24 kilometers from Noumea. To admire the magnificent panoramic view the ‘brave’ can climb the 247 steps of the superb cast iron staircase, which leads to the top.
On the other side of the world, the twin brother of the Amedee lighthouse lights up the Channel at Roches-sur-Douvres in France, also protecting sailors’ lives. It was built two years after the Amedee lighthouse and was the star attraction at the Paris ‘Exposition Universelle’ in 1867 on the Champ de Mars.
The Amedee lighthouse is indeed a unique attraction and one of the tallest lighthouses in the world in the world’s largest lagoon.
(N.B. Phare means Lighthouse in French)