"Much has been written about the Cordouan tower, and much will be written; it is a compelling subject because those who set foot on its foundations cannot help but be struck by the majesty of this most venerable of lighthouses." This is how Gustave Labat (1824–1917) described it. Without this scholar, our knowledge of Cordouan would rely more on legend than on history – a social science undergoing rapid development in the nineteenth century. Little is known about this man who, over a period of thirty years, researched, translated and analysed unpublished documents. He published them in five volumes (Documents sur la ville de Royan et la tour de Cordouan, 1884-1901) that are, even today, an invaluable source of information about Cordouan. Labat loved the sea; he was one of the first yachtsmen in the Arcachon Basin, and would regularly sail past Cordouan. Labat's world was a scholarly one: he was a member of the Société des Archives Historiques de la Gironde and Bordeaux’s Académie Nationale des Sciences, Belles-Lettres et Arts. He drew on the ground-breaking work from the 1860s by Philippe Tamizey de Larroque (1828–1898), a literary historian and seventeenth century specialist who worked on Louis de Foix. He also consulted publications by the archivists and librarians Ernest Gaullieur (1827–1893) and Raymond Céleste from Bordeaux. In his books, Labat was indebted to Charles Marionneau (1823–1896), painter, art critic, archaeologist and local Gironde historian. Marionneau wrote a bit about Cordouan. In 1872, he published a book on Jean-Raymond Brascassat, a painter who visited the lighthouse in 1822 along with the first tourists to the area. Labat also left us several drawings of Cordouan. The biographical details about these forgotten Cordouan scholars – of which Labat is a major figure – focus on shared passions: history above all, but also the sea and aesthetics. These remain three ways to conceptualize this monument-lighthouse, in the past, now and in the future.