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Cordouan 'king of lighthouses' granted UNESCO world heritage status

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By Philip Andrew Churm
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Cordouan 'king of lighthouses' granted UNESCO world heritage status
Copyright  PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP or licensors
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France's oldest, still active lighthouse, has been given UNESCO World Heritage status.

Cordouan Lighthouse, on the Gironde estuary in southwest France, is nicknamed the "king of lighthouses" and has been a beacon for sailors for the past 400 years.

The building - which is also a popular tourist attraction - won recognition from UNESCO on Saturday and is the last to be inhabited in France and only the second after Spain's La Coruna to win the recognition from the world heritage body.

Cordouan was built at the very end of the 16th century and stands in the Atlantic Ocean at the mouth of the Gironde estuary in what is regarded as a "highly exposed and hostile environment", according to UNESCO's World Heritage Committee.

The lighthouse was designed by engineer Louis de Foix, and was later remodelled by engineer Joseph Teulere in the late 18th century.

It's light - which is now powered by electricity - flickers every 12 seconds and can be seen from 40 kilometers away.