The province of Brittany, in the north-western part of France, forms a large peninsula that extends into the Atlantic Ocean, bordering the English Channel to the north and the Bay of Biscay to the south. The waters between the west coast and the island of Ouessant form the Iroise Sea. This section of the coast of Brittany continues to be every year one of the most dangerous areas in Europe in terms of violent storms, big waves and strong currents.
More than thirty ships were lost in this region between 1888 and 1904. Because of this, the rugged coastline is dotted with lighthouses (more than a third of all the lighthouses and towers that illuminate the French coastline are located here). These granite fortresses they have been warning distant sailors of the dangers of the coast and its treacherous rocks since the 18th century.
One of the most famous of these lighthouses was built on a rock called La Jument, about 300 meters from the coast of the island of Ouessant. The Jument became well known in 1989, through a series of photographs taken by Jean Guichard.
On December 21, 1989, a low pressure front from Ireland brought strong winds and huge waves of 20 to 30 meters high that spectacularly broke against the lighthouse.
The waves reached the lowest windows of the lighthouse and came to rip off the main door, flooding the tower and destroying the furniture inside. By then, Théodore Malgor decided to take refuge in the lighthouse’s light room while waiting to be rescued..
At about the same time, photographer Jean Guichard was in Lorient, along with a helicopter pilot he had hired to take aerial photos of the storm. Guichar wanted to fly over the Iroise Sea even though the flying conditions were extremely dangerous.. The helicopter arrived at La Jument and Guichard was able to take some incredible snapshots of the waves hitting the lighthouse.
Inside the tower, Théodore Malgorn heard what he thought was a rescue helicopter and hurried down from the light room and opened the door. At that very moment, a giant wave rose over the back of the lighthouse and Guichard was able to capture the moment with his camera.
Théodore Malgorn realized that the giant wave was about to crash against the structure so he rushed inside just in time to save his life.