What Light Is That?

What light is that? Have you ever asked yourself that question? Maybe when reading a magazine, seeing an advertisement, or watching a movie – what lighthouse is that? Where is that lighthouse?


computer screenshot

MV5BMTQ3MDA4MDIyN15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwOTg0Njk4._V1_SX214_Well this happened to me while I was watching the first of the Jason Bourne movies  – The Bourne Identity (IMDb)

Eight (8) minutes into the DVD movie (see screen shot at right) the fishboat that rescued him from the ocean enters Cassis harbour (according to the book by Robert Ludlum) and we see this green light at the end of a breakwater. Unfortunately the movie does not follow the book at all (“The novel is wildly

Cassis harbour light look likes this

Cassis harbour light look likes this

wildly different from the movie.”) and I have no idea where this harbour is located. It is definitely not Cassis harbour near Marseille, France. If you look at the film you will see as they enter the harbour there is a shipyard on the left side – there is definitely no shipyard in the photo on the right. Of the fifteen places listed in the IMDb website for the film locations, none of them apply to this harbour.

So, where is it? Do you know? If so please let me know so I can inform the readers as well.

LightshipThe film and the novel did coincide on Jason Bourne’s trip to Paris France but little did I expect to see another lighthouse on the River Seine which runs through the city. Actually not a lighthouse but a lightship!

Take a look at the screenshot (left) taken at 28 minutes into the DVD movie. Look at the lower right corner. There is definitely a red lightship berthed there. Where did it come from? Maybe it is there for repairs. Do they still use lightships in France? So many questions I had to ask Google.

Lightship in Paris  France   Flickr   Photo Sharing

photo – © john.blake89 on Flickr

After a bit of searching I found out that it was indeed a lightship and it was called the LS Batofar. It was decommissioned and was now a floating restaurant in Paris with the same name. .The Batofar was originally an Irish lightship according to Wikipedia.


Ok, finished with the lights now that we are inland – well not quite. While researching the LS Batofar I found out that the Eiffel Tower had a beacon on the top. OK, most tall structures have a light of some sort to warn low-flying aircraft, but this is a navigational beacon! The Eiffel Tower website has this story:

_eiffelTowerAtNight2The Tour Eiffel Lighthouse

As early as 1889, Gustave Eiffel was busy in the drawing room, making plans for the beacon to be set atop the tallest structure in the world, which would sweep the sky with beams of blue, white and red covering a distance of 100 kilometers! The finishing touch to the pièce de résistance of the Paris Universal Exhibition.

In 1947, interest in using the Eiffel Tower to help orient air navigation became obvious. From the Tower heights, visibility and geographic range were far more impressive than the lower altitude of Mount Valérien where a rather powerful beacon had already by installed. Two beacons were mounted on the Tower summit in order to give the impression of one single light source from a distance.

In 1970, the Civil Aviation Agency refused to carry out the needed fixing. Coupled with the fact that air traffic over the capital city had become forbidden, the beacon was replaced with the usual red lights placed on factory smokestacks.

Installed once again as a permanent fixture for the occasion of the new millennium in the year 2000, the two light beams sweep the Parisian sky reaching out 80 kilometers. Four motorized “marine” flood lights are piloted by a micro computer installed with specific automatic programming so as to control their movement. Each one rotates 90° in the form of a cross so as to create a double-beam of light pivoting 360°. . . more

Ok, finished! Jason Bourne stayed inland for the rest of the book and did not see another lighthouse, that I know of!