Martigues, Bouches-du-Rhône, France

Martigues is a French commune in Bouches-du-Rhône in Provence, also known by the nickname “Venice of Provence”. It stretches along the banks of the Etang de Berre and the Caronte canal. The city is made up of three districts: Ferrières to the north (Camargue side), Ile sur le canal (Brescon Island) and Jonquières to the south (Côte Bleue side).

Nicknamed the “Provençale Venice”, Martigues is a point of passage between the Mediterranean Sea and the Sea of Martigues (now Etang de Berre), close to the Côte d’Azur. The charm of its canals, its docks and bridges made it “The Venice of Provence”. Martigues possesses also its cooperative winery “La Venise provençale”: Coteaux d’Aix en Provence, rosé, red and white wines, fruit juices and natural oils in the region. Main varietals: Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Carignan, Clairette.

Martigues is located on the south-western edge of the Etang de Berre, on either side of the Caronte canal which connects the pond to the Mediterranean Sea. It faces south-west on the Gulf of Fos and north-east on the Etang de Berre, for a total of 7,144 hectares including 697 hectares of forests and 40 kilometers of maritime linear including 11 on the Mediterranean coast.

The basement of the town is home to many deposits of varying importance. One of the first operations was the construction stone extraction along the coastline that begins towards the IV century BC. AD by the Phocaeans. This operation continues until the XIX century. It extends to the XX century in land with the limestone quarry of the Oratory. Then, a concession was granted in 1814 for the extraction of coal and lignite on a deposit.spread between Martigues and Châteauneuf-les-Martigues. Peat was also briefly extracted from small deposits along the towpath during World War. Sand mining for the glass industry also existed. However, the most important exploitation concerned a large deposit of gypsum, near the village of Saint-Pierre, whose exploitation lasted from 1900 to 1987.

Tourism is an activity in full development in Martigues in particular since the classification of the commune in “seaside and tourist resort” (2008).

The study of previous periods shows a growing tourism with the increase in the number of requests for information on the sites of the tourist office from 83,286 in 2000 to 93,550 in 2004. In 2007, however, this number fell, to 81,620 people, the fourth best result in Bouches-du-Rhône. Essentially, it is linked to frequentation of the beaches on the southern coast, which welcome more than 11,000 people per day in summer, including 9,000 for the Verdon beach in La Couronne. In addition, the population of the coastal villages of Carro and La Couronne spends the summer between 4,500 and 15,000 inhabitants

Beach-related activities are therefore growing strongly. In 2003, the hotel capacity was 900 people per day and that of the campsites for 6,000 people per day. The Tourist Office estimated 2007 tourist income in Martigues at at least 49 million euros. Pleasure boating has several ports which accommodated 1,773 boats in 2004.

Historical heritage

City Hall
The building of 12,000 m2 stands proudly on the banks of the Chenal de Caronte. The Martigues town hall – both a public service building and architectural curiosity – was created by Claude Delaugerre in 1983. It is built on stilts where salt marshes once lay.

In the entrance hall: mosaic by Bazaine on the doors: sculptures by Cardenas in the city council meeting room: tapestries by Ubac in the wedding ceremony room: tapestry by Vinard and works by the Aubusson workshop. The ceramic blue façades represent fish scales.

Bird mirror and St Sébastien canal
The area including the Canal St Sébastien, the Miroir aux Oiseaux and the Quai Brescon was listed in 1942. This strip of sea straddled by the Pont Saint Sébastien and the line of colourful fishermen’s houses with random heights has fascinated numerous painters since the end of the 19th century including Delacroix, Corot, Loubon, Ziem and Dufy.

Etienne Richaud monument
This sculpture of a bronze bust on a pedestal is a homage to Etienne Richaud (1841-1889) provided by public funds. Etienne Richaud, son and grandson of fishermen, was born at no. 7 Rue Galinière in 1841. He was a brilliant student and had senior positions in the public service. The first governor general of Indochina, then inspector of the marine and colonies, he died at sea on 31 May 1889 on the Calédonien.

Monumental painting by Guillaume Bottazzi
This 80 m2 painting by the famous artist Guillaume Bottazzi is in the heart of the historical district. The French artist has created over 65 projects in public areas throughout the world. This painting ordered by the city of Martigues in 2018 is 10 metres high and 8 metres wide. It can be viewed from the town hall, by boat or on foot… The maritime shuttle from the town hall is the best place to see this monumental poetic work.

Facade Comtal Palace
Built in the 12th and 13th centuries, it is a rare example of medieval civil architecture in Provence with a Roman façade and gemelled arched picture windows, discovered in 1981.

Hotel de Colla de Pradines
The impressive Baroque mansion, completed in 1678, stands in the heart of the city. Built on the edge of an island of houses, once marshland recovered from the former Canal de Vauroux, the Hôtel de Colla de Pradines, opposite the contemporary Église Sainte Marie-Madeleine opens onto the lively Place de la Libération. It was the holiday home of the powerful Italian family, de Colla de Pradines, from Aix.

With corner buttresses, pilasters and a balanced distribution of large picture windows, it is reminiscent of the homes built in the Aix area at the same time. On the façade, a plaque paying tribute to Gérard Tenque (1047-1120), founder of the Hospitaller Order and who, it is said, was born in Martigues. His statue can be seen on the façade of the Église St Genest de Jonquières. Town hall from 1808 to 1983, the building sheltered the courthouse until 2018.

Lapidary garden
On the edge of the Gallifet canal, it brings together some archaeological remains, stelae, fragments of a Gallo-Roman temple and in particular the altar discovered in the hamlet of St-Pierre (witness to imperial worship).

Fishing Prud’homie
The beautiful neoclassical façade is decorated with a curious carefully made high-relief. It is designed like a Versailles trophy with the subtle style of 17th-century sculptures, except that fishing equipment and produce replace war symbols. It was built in 1930 and has since served as the headquarters for the Martigues maritime labour relations court, created in the 15th century.

Bronze statue, representing Fernandel and Bourvil
Bronze statue, representing Fernandel and Bourvil in an emblematic scene of “la cuisine au beurre” with Fernandel and Bourvil. The sculptor Sébastien Langloÿs, has left three chairs available for tourists and locals to take their places (photo session required!). With more than 6.3 million spectators, La cuisine au beurre is one of the biggest recipes in French cinema. But this film by Gilles Grangier, with Fernandel and Bourvil, mainly represents a section of the city’s history, because it was shot “in” Martigues, in 1963.

In the background, the House in the hat of a policeman, this 17th century building, marked by its scalloped gable and its wrought iron balcony, acts as a restaurant in the film. Where the emblematic scene that Sébastien Langloÿs reproduced takes place, the first chance meeting of Christiane’s two spouses. Ten years after the sculpture of the fisherman and the rower installed in Ferrières, the city of Martigues asked the Toulouse sculptor Sébastien Langloÿs to make this second work.

San Christ Point
The Pointe de l’Île is an artificial peninsula built between 2009 and 2010. It is 130 m long and 30 m wide. The architect of this project is Gilles Amphoux. The magnificent site with water jets and fountains is ideal for strolling and relaxing.

Henri Fabre stele
The stele was installed in commemoration of the inventor of the seaplane who accomplished his first flight over the Étang de Berre on 28 March 1910.

Mirabeau Square
Beautiful mansions The former community house 17-century upright fountain renovated in 1997, once on the main square of the Jonquières district. Note the small sculpted centenary cicada on the ridge of the roof on the corner of the Rue du Jeu de Paume and Place Mirabeau.

Armenian Genocide Khachkar
The khachkar is a stone stele with a large carved cross. A hybrid work of art between sculpture and architecture, it is an Armenian creation. Standing in the Félix Ziem garden of stone sculptures, it pays tribute to victims of the Armenian genocide in April 1915. UNESCO listed the art of Armenian cross-stones in November 2010 as intangible cultural heritage.

House in Gendarme Hat
The “Maison à chapeau de gendarme” was built in the 18th century. It is recognisable for its the folded fretted gable and wrought-iron balcony. In 1963, Gilles Grangier filmed the comedy “La cuisine au beurre” here, starring French actors Fernandel and Bourvil.

Bronze statues “The Fisherman and the Harvester”
Bronze sculpture installed on the port of Martigues-Ferrières. Created in 2010 by Sébastien Langloys. She is an early 20th century fisherman and net mower.

Green breakwater Theatre in Ferrières downtown
Emblematic place in the heart of the historic center, the Green Theatre is dedicated to the promenade, it is the new place of reception of the demonstrations of the city of Martigues. Green lung in the heart of the city center, it completes, next to the beach of Ferrières, the development of the trail of the pond of Berre.This wooded garden, with an area of about 10 000 square meters of which 1 300 square meters of landscaped bleachers can accommodate 300 people seated and its configuration allows a attendance of about a thousand people. A vegetal palette composes the garden, offering a new quality place with a view of the entire pond.More than 70 trees of high stems (2 to 5 m high) surround the theatre of greenery: pine umbrella, ash, poplar but also Grevillea, eucalyptus, camphor. 27 different types of Mediterranean and exotic species compose a varied and harmonious ensemble.

This landscaping is a vegetable filter, at the back of the bleachers to house the Mistral and shade in summer.The seating of the bleachers planned for the reception of the public has the appearance of wood and will be made of composite material from recycled plastic materials. The essences and type of grass installed at the level of the bleachers are chosen for their resistance to the climate. The drip irrigation system for trees and sprinkling on grassed areas is both efficient and economical.

Louis Aragon media library
Built on concrete stilts dug into the spongy subsoil, the multimedia library was designed by Emile Pamart. It has original architectural features including the layout and the use of traditional materials like brick and wood. Inaugurated in 1981, the multimedia library was extended in 2004 and now measures 3,600 m² making it one of the largest in the region.

Fort de Bouc
In the city of Martigues, the Fort de Bouc stands on pink limestone walls at the mouth of the Chenal de Caronte. The fort has guarded the passage between the Golfe de Fos and Étang de Berre, half-way between Marseille and the Rhône, since the Middle Ages. With a strategic position for maritime trade and protecting the region, the Fort de Bouc has always played a dual role – both a defence site and lighthouse. It was listed as a historical monument on 6 January 1930.

In 1993, the city of Martigues undertook the project of protection and restoration of the Fort du Bouc. After the restorations in 2007, the first since its construction over a thousand years ago, the Fort de Bouc was opened to the public, taking visitors travelling back through history. The Fort de Bouc is situated amongst the Lavéra petrol port sites. As a result, visits and use are subject to particular constraints.

Religious heritage

The church of Saint-Genest
The church of Saint-Génies, in a sober classical style (1625), district of Jonquières. The interior is unfortunately badly damaged by water upwelling by capillaries and the paintings have recently been vandalized.

The chapel of the Annonciade
The chapel of the Annonciade was built from 1664 to 1671. It is classified as a historical monument. It was built by the White Penitents and houses exceptional decorations in Basse-Provence: trompe-l’oeil painted walls, sculpted paneling, gilded altarpiece, ceiling painted in the Venetian style.

The 17th-century Baroque-style Chapelle de l’Annonciade des Pénitents Blancs was listed as a historical monument in 1910. The rich interior decoration with baroque influences, rare in the Basse-Provence area, features trompe l’oeils, sculptured panelling, a guilt altarpiece, a Venetian-style painted ceiling and graffiti dating back to the French Revolution. The chapel has undergone a remarkable 20-year programme of restoration which was awarded the Rubans du Patrimoine regional prize in 2016.

The reformed church
The reformed church (completed in 1964, architect Pierre Monheim). Its bell comes from the old temple of Aigaliers (Gard).

The church of the Madeleine
The Church of Sainte Marie-Madeleine, district of the Island, of baroque style, was built between 1681 and 1688. Its interior is richly decorated with murals and wood paneling, with an original flat wooden ceiling with paintings. An organ built by Prosper-Antoine Moitessier in 1851 features a flat sideboard in Italian fashion and in Charles X style; it is classified as a historic monument both for its buffet and for its instrumental part. The exterior presents to the east a rich sculpted facade in Baroque style and to the northwest a bell tower topped by a wrought iron campanile.

Long called “The Cathedral” by the martégaux, the most imposing of the town’s churches characteristic of Provencal architecture and Baroque decor with an Italian influence has been classified as Historic Monuments since 1947. It testifies to the prosperity of the city in the 17th century and the attachment of the inhabitants of the Island who participated in its financing. The facade has two levels separated by a volumetric cornice with modillions. Its lower part is animated by four columns with Corinthian capitals, fluted pilasters and a broken pediment. The upper part is crowned by a triangular pediment.

The Virgin and Child (classified as a historic monument in 1908) and the portal, remarkably carved, inside, in addition to a rich painted decoration, the organ of the Montpellier organbuilder Moitessier (1851), the tables of the chapels of Michel Serre (1694), the pulpit to preach in walnut (1677).

The church of Saint-Louis d’Anjou
The Saint-Louis d’Anjou church is the church in the Ferrières district. It was built from the XIV century and then rebuilt around 1675. It is within the walls of this modest church that was signed onApril 21, 1581, the Act of union of the three boroughs, Jonquières, the Island and Ferrières, thus giving birth to the City of Martigues.

Église Saint Louise was rebuilt in 1675. The steeple is topped by a stone spire with a sober design that characterises the modesty of this church in the Ferrières district, the poorest in Martigues in the 17th century. The union act between the three districts was signed on 21 April 1581 to create Martigues. Commemorative plaque. Observe the rustic portal with a broken pediment from the former Chapelle des Pénitents Bleus in the entrance.

The chapel of Our Lady of Mercy
The Chapel of Our Lady Mariners, dominates the town on a hill over 100 meters north of the city. 17th century The ex-votoes and statues of the Virgin Mary exhibited in the Musée Ziem guard the city. Magnificent panorama over the city and Étang de Berre. This church served as the patron and guardian of the city, in particular among sailors and fishermen. Since the chapel, there is a remarkable panorama across the city to the south, the Etang de Berre to the east, the Canal de Caronte, Port de Bouc and the Gulf of Fos west. This church has received many different names over the centuries such as Notre-Dame de la Mer or Our Lady of the Good Mother.

Civil heritage
Many houses have picturesque facades along the quays and within the Island which has benefited from the Town Hall’s renovation programs. In particular, the Maison en Chapeau de Gendarme along the Saint-Sébastien canal.
The Caronte Bridge, a revolving railway viaduct that spans the channel to the west of the city since 1915. This bridge was built between 1908 and 1915. Dynamited in 1944 by the Germans, it was rebuilt in 1946.
The Martigues viaduct, a motorway viaduct that carries the A55. Opened in 1972, it is a crutch bridge with a length of 875m.
The fort of Bouc monitors the entrance of the Caronte Canal. Several successive fortifications were established on the position. The current buildings date from the XVII century and are the result of a reconstruction led by Vauban. The Germans also established many works during World War II. The town hall restored the fort from 1992 to 2007. It carries a lighthouse: Fort de Bouc lighthouse.
The Castle of Ponteau
The Colla de Pradines hotel, a private hotel built in 1678 for the Colla de Pradines family. The building housed the Town Hall from 1808 to 1983, then the District Court until 2018.


Caronte railway viaduct
This art work built on the Marseille Miramas railway line was commissioned in October 1915 at the opening of the line. With a length of 943 m, it crosses the Caronte canal located between the pond of Berre and the Mediterranean Sea. Dynamite in August 1944 by the Germans, it is rebuilt almost identically between 1952 and 1954. By opening, the bridge releases a navigable channel 43 m wide. When closed, the movable span is 23 m high allowing the passage of large boats.

Bridges of the North Pass
Built as a replacement for the old swing bridge (1853-1998) and the metal bridge (1949-2000), these two bridges on the Baussengue canal are the culmination of the effort devoted by the city to effectively solve the eternal problem of crossing. waters.

Levant bridge
Said bridge opening and located at the end of the pass of Jonquieres, it replaces the turn of 1929. The work will begin in 1959 to be completed in 1962.It opens in two flights of 28m50 each. It is carried by an electric manoeuvre controlled from the lookout of a nearby Bridge House.

Motorway viaduct
The motorway viaduct allows the A55 to cross the Caronte canal. It is a complex work built from 1968 and put into service in August 1972. With a total length of 874 meters and a height of 45 meters, it has two distinct parts in their design: a metal main structure on the canal and two access viaducts composed of two twin concrete works. It comprises a total of 16 spans supported by 13 piles of reinforced concrete and two metal crutches. The structure meets the constraints of departure: integration into the landscape thanks to its fine and elegant profile, clearance of a sufficient waterway and taking into account the seismic risk.

Culture Heritage


Gnidzaz Martigues Cinematheque
Martigues was already a chosen spot for film-makers in the 1910s. In 2007, Prosper Gnidzaz, a passionate cinema collector offered his collection to the city of 2,250 reels and 79 projectors, the oldest of which dates back to 1880. The City decided to create an exhibition space dedicated to the cinema in his name.

The Espace Cinéma Prosper Gnidzaz was inaugurated in May 2011 in a renovated 17th-century chapel. In the 260 m2 area, visitors can discover the evolution of filming techniques from the first animated images to 3D. In 2013, it became the Cinémathèque Gnidzaz and member of the FCAFF (Fédération des Cinémathèques et Archives de films de France) with 14 other cinematheques including the Cinémathèque de Marseille, Cinémathèque de Nice and Institut Jean Vigo.

Martigues History Gallery
Martigues History Gallery innovative 500 m2 exhibition area on the ground floor of the town hall takes you travelling back in time through the history of this one-thousand-year old city and its residents. With videos, written documents, photographs, models and museography and interactive terminals, the gallery highlights key periods in the evolution of Martigues from the first traces of human civilisation to the lightening development of the commune in the second half of the 20th century.

The Galerie also presents the city of the future with exhibitions of urban, cultural and social projects for Martigues. The exhibition covers more than just a few centuries. It covers the complete history of Martigues from the prehistoric period to current time.

Ziem Museum
The Musée Ziem was founded in 1908 thanks to donations by several artists including Félix Ziem. The collection is alternated regularly to ensure the public has access to all the works (ground and first floor). The second floor is dedicated to a permanent collection.

Works by Ziem, very popular for his paintings of Venice and Constantinople including the famous “Martigues les tartanes”. Fauvist works by Raoul Dufy and André Derain, organised around important painters from the 20th century including Francis Picabia and René Seyssaud. Works by Provençal painters including Emile Loubon. To ensure their conservation, works by Paul Signac, Auguste Rodin and Camille Claudel are only exhibited from time to time.

The uppermost floor exhibits part of the archaeological collections from local digs from prehistory to modern times, from 8,000BC until the 18th century, an ethnological collection which reflects the importance of water in the daily life of the Martigues population with fishing articles and ex-votoes.

Archaeological sites
The territory of the city is home to many archaeological sites and Martigues has its own archaeological service. The latter carries out numerous excavations each year which have revealed a rich past.

Tholon archaeological site (Maritima Avaticorum)
The Tholon site is located in the city of Martigues, on the western shore of the Etang de Berre, about 1500 m north of the Caronte Channel and the Ile district, the historic center of the city. Remains of a Gallo-Roman conurbation, Maritima Avaticorum.

Since 1998, research conducted by archaeologists from the town of Martigues to Tholon has explored or uncovered numerous remains and buildings buried in the ground or immersed in the pond of Berre. These works now make it possible to reconstruct the main stages of the occupation of one of the major sites in the history and heritage of Martigues. There are springs, cisterns, laundries and hydraulic installations (twentieth-twentieth centuries).

Archaeological Showcase Museum
The archaeological showcase located on the square Maritima (district of the Island) is, on 80m2, a restitution in situ, on the remains of a primitive Gallic village (5th century before our era). Plot of streets with objects where they were found, and four houses reconstructed according to archaeological and ethnic data.

Other archaeological sites:

The lakeside village of Albion.
The village of Arquet which was a village built from the VI century BC. AD and occupied intermittently on a cape on the southern coast of the town.
The Barboussade site.
The neolithic site of La Baume Longue.
The villa of Beaumenière.
The Bonnieu site.
The Mesolithic site of La Cacharelle.
The Campeu site.
The Canto-Perdrix site.
The Collet Redon site.
The villa of La Couronne-Vieille.
The Escourillon site.
The necropolis of La Gatasse.
The Gallic villages under the Île quarter.
The villa of Lavaux.
Maritima Avaticorum which was the main city of the Avatics under the Roman Empire.
The site of Mourre du Bœuf.
The Neolithic shelter, the prehistoric burial mounds and the Roman villa of Ponteau.
The villa of Saint-Julien.
The oppidum of Saint-Pierre which probably played the role of main agglomeration of the western part of the chain of Nerthe before the construction of Maritima Avaticorum.
The lakeside village of Les Salins.
The villa of Sénèmes.
Tabouret’s villa.
The Gallic site of Cape Tamaris which is one of the oldest urbanized sites in France.
The villa of Valeuil.
The shelter of the Verdon.

Events and festivities
Every summer, Provençal jousting competitions take place on the canals.

Since 1989, between July and August, takes place the “Festival of Martigues: Dances, Music and Voices of the World. The town of Martigues is home to the association “La Capouliero”, organizer of the festival and ambassador of Provençal folklore.

The city’s municipal brass band celebrated its 100th anniversary on June 25, 2006.

On June 27, takes place the feast of Saint-Pierre (the patron saint of fishermen). All day long, various varied activities take place as well as a commemoration on the Berre pond. The day is a public holiday for the various services dependent on the City. Since 2007, a rowing race has taken place on the Galliffet canal between the Paul Langevin and Jean Lurçat high schools. It is named Défi Martégal and the winner receives the Paul-Lombard trophy.

Natural heritage

Pond of Berre
The Étang de Berre area is a rare natural environment with lagoons, wetlands and limestone hills. Home to a rich biodiversity of flora and fauna, it represents a natural treasure for the world.

Occupied by man for at least 12,000 years, the area around the Étang de Berre is the site of several major innovations in the history and the cultural evolution of mankind. For example, breeding goats and sheep began on the banks of the lagoon 9,000 years ago. This crucial event marks the beginning of the transition between the Paleolithic-Mesolithic period and Neolithic period – a period of deep-seated technical, economical and social evolution.

The area surrounding the lagoon, Pays de l’Étang de Berre is also an important example of man’s adaptation to the climate and the environment. Particularly 6,000 years ago, when the Mediterranean rose and flooded the lagoon in the the centre of the area. The breeding activities on the shores of the lagoon were joined by hunting, fishing and gathering populations. They adapted their fishing techniques to marine species which quickly replaced their existing practices for freshwater fish.

The geographic and geological characteristics of the Étang de Berre and its surroundings explain the unique ecosystem of flora and fauna which make the lagoon a remarkable biotype by world standards and a biodiversity hotspot. The banks of the lagoon abound with rich biological areas, particularly the wetlands. As a result, over 3,000 hectares around the Étang have been recognised as habitat for rich biodiversity, with a remarkable variety of fauna: 359 bird species, 53 mammal species including 16 species of bats, 19 species of reptiles, 9 taxons of amphibians, 135 butterfly species, 52 species of dragonflies and 74 species of grasshoppers, crickets and locusts (orthoptera).

Gardens and Parks

Côte Bleue Marine Park
Created in 1983, the marine park stretches over 15,000 hectares along the 28 kilometres of the Côte Bleue, from the Anse des Laurons in the west to the Pointe de Corbières in the east. The Parc Marin de la Côte Bleue manages all the artificial underwater reef along the coast and two completely protected marine reserves, one off Carry-le-Rouet (85 ha) and the other off Cap-Couronne (210 ha). Measures for development and managing the resource are the result of a constant exchange between governing bodies, local authorities, fishermen and fishing industry unions.

Grand Park of the Figuerolles – Paul Lombard
The Grand Parc de Figuerolles – Paul Lombard is a wooded estate on the northern outskirts of the city on the shores of Europe’s largest lagoon: Étang de Berre. With 130 hectares of pine forests, dry-stone walls and scrubland, the park is a fabulous green lung ideal for family activities, sports and walking. The park offers a range of outdoor activities with an educational farm, pony rides, treetop adventure park and mountain bike area. Nature lovers enjoy the walking trails for discovering magnificent viewpoints over the lagoon.

Priory Garden
Acquired by the city of Martigues in 1990, it has a surface of 1.2 ha. It is the place of important events. Today, a simple relaxing meadow dotted with majestic linden trees, this park will be enriched with Mediterranean tree species.

Grand Parc of Figuerolles
The Grand Parc de Figuerolles – Paul Lombard is a wooded estate on the northern outskirts of the city on the shores of Europe’s largest lagoon: Etang de Berre. With 130 hectares of pine forests, dry-stone walls and scrubland, the park is a fabulous green lung ideal for family activities, sports and walking. The park offers a range of outdoor activities with an educational farm, pony rides, treetop adventure park and mountain bike area. Nature lovers enjoy the walking trails for discovering magnificent viewpoints over the lagoon.

La Rode park
Created on land won on the pond of Berre, it offers a privileged view on the pond, the Sainte Victoire, the rocks of Jaï and the forest of Escourillon, thanks in particular to 3 axes whose well is the point of departure. 1.5 ha decorated with plane trees, Micocouliers, pines, stroll along the pond and relaxation area.

Ferrières Public Garden
The oldest public garden in Martigues borders the recently landscaped beach. Around a pool with jets of water shaded by imposing mulberry trees, white poplars, sophoras, palm trees, canary palm, yew pruned, hackberries, oaks and a unique metasequoia. Shading, playground, catering in summer season.

Park of Gour
2 hectares built in 2 storm basins and decorated with 300 trees and shrubs (Montpellier maples, acacia, willows, poplars, pines, plane trees). Its tarmacked and hilly paths are ideal for rollerblading, skateboarding and children’s cycling. It is home to a skate park.

Ferrières Beach Downtown
The sandy beach located at the edge of the pond of Berre and in the city centre of Martigues, is certified “bathing waters”, recognition of the actions taken by the municipality for the management of a bathing site. The beach has showers and toilets.

The green areas have been redesigned, the redone asphalt and children’s playground are available.The place participates in dynamization of the city centre and the process of inscription of the pond of Berre to the world heritage of UNESCO.

The Côte Bleue coastline
Between the entrance to the Camargue and Marseille’s natural harbour, the 25-km-long Côte Bleue is studded with rocky inlets, beaches and coastline panoramas. Martigues with its villages of La Couronne and Carro shine from the centre of the Côte Bleue, abound with sandy beaches and coves ideal for watersports and idle pleasures.

The beaches

Laurons beach
“Plage des Laurons” in Martigues is a pocket-sized beach set next to the port of the same name. Combining shingle and grass, it is situated along the “Sentier du Littoral” coastal footpath and is easily accessible to all. “Plage des Laurons” is attended by a lifeguard until 8 p.m. in summer and is also fitted out with showers, toilets and a children’s play area. A free car park is available nearby and the bathing area is marked out with buoys in summer to protect bathers from boats exiting from the little port. The picnic area complete with tables, benches and shady spots makes this an ideal choice for a fun day out with the family.

Sainte-Croix Beach
It is crossed by the coastal path, which includes didactic panels (geology, Chapel of the Holy Cross). Accommodation and restaurants nearby.

Bonnieu Naturist Beach
The “Plage Naturiste de Bonnieu” is located adjacent to Martigues. And as its name implies, birthday suits only are allowed here! Bathers must be members of the “Fédération Française de Naturisme” or register with the Martigues naturist society. To reach the beach, follow directions to Carro and La Couronne via the D5 or D9 road. After the EDF power plant, a small sign indicates the way to this small, private shingle beach, fully authorised to welcome naturists. Amenities include toilets, showers, and a refreshments stand run by René who regularly organises theme evenings, sports tournaments and children’s games on site.

Beach at La Saulce
“Plage de la Saulce” is situated at the end of the “Sentier du Littoral” signposted footpath which runs all the way along the pretty Côte Bleue coast. This charming beach of golden sand is attended by a lifeguard in summer and fully fitted out with toilets, showers, bars and restaurants… Standing just above the creek, Chapelle de Sainte Croix appears to be standing guard over the bathers. Built in memory of Saint Mary Magdalene who is said to have moored on these shores with the first Christians chased from Palestine, this little chapel harbours a genuine fragment of the Christ’s cross.

Crown-old beach
Calm and serenity await you on this picturesque site and charmers where the clear water invites to swimming and diving.Sandy and pebble beach of approx. 50 m. It is enshrined between an old stone quarry and a cliff.Swimming not supervised.

Beach of the Verdon
Sandy Beach.The beach of the Verdon is a beautiful beach of 300m, made of sand and therefore very popular with the inhabitants of Martigues.Protected by a large Cove that shelters it from the wind, it has all the necessary facilities for the family to come. Supervised Beach, sanitary facilities, bars and restaurants nearby.The little more of the beach of Verdon, it is the pedalos that allow water rides to admire the scenery from the sea.

Carro’s beach
Carro is a charming little fishing port, still in operation, located just near Martigues. Its fish market attracts people from throughout the region and is a real treat for the eyes and the taste buds! Situated just a stone’s throw from the port, “Plage de Carro” is a fairly small shingle beach, just big enough to accommodate the families and surfers who come here to tackle the waves when the wind is blowing. Like much of the Côte Bleue coast, this is also an excellent diving spot: Carro is particularly renowned for the Baou Tailla quarry lying just under its waves, which experienced divers can explore by passing through a heart-stopping siphon. The stones from the quarry now offer a perfect habitat for local fauna and it is not uncommon to come across an octopus, lobster or dalmatian discodoris – a charming little mollusc covered with brown spots, reminiscent of a dalmatian’s coat.

Bonnieu Beach
Sandy Beach. Cove marked in summer time.Free parking nearby.The coastal trail passes close to the beach. Swimming not supervised.

The coast
Discover the coastline on foot on the Côte Bleue GR marked hiking trail, by car passing through small harbours and seaside resorts scattered from Martigues to Marseilles, or by train with an exceptional panoramic view over the sea.

Cap Couronne and seabed
The Réserve de Carry-le-Rouet was created in 1983 on 85 hectares with the support of the city and users. The reserve protects rich and diverse natural habitats such as Posidonia seagrass meadows, calcified seaweed and rocky zones. The creation of the Réserve du Cap Couronne in 1996 was initiated by the fishing community with the extension of the Parc Marin de la Côte Bleue to the city of Martigues. This 210-hectare reserve stretches through an important zone for reproduction and recruitment of typical Mediterranean species such as sars, pink sea bream, red mullet and crayfish.

Lighthouse at Cap Couronne
The lighthouse stands at the south of La Couronne village, at the eastern entrance of Golfe de Fos. It is the only lighthouse on the Côte Bleue, between the small port of Carro to the west and Estaque in the east, very close to Marseille. The monument is in a magnificent setting surrounded by small inlets. It was built in 1959. A cylindrical tower, the lower part is white and the top is red. The lighthouse has a radar antenna. Automated and guarded 24/7. It is 36 metres high. The scope of the light is 20 miles. The light is provided by a 650 W halogen lamp and a red light occults every 3 seconds.

Parc marin de la Côte Bleue
Le Parc Marin de La Côte Bleue (The Côte Bleue Marine Park) has been inscribed since November 24, 2018 on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Green List of Protected Areas. This distinction is attributed to protected areas that meet several standards for effective management and local governance.

Cap Couronne Reserve (Richard Fouque Reserve)
Following the evolution of the environment related to the management and protection of the Carry-le-Rouet reserve, the representatives of professional fishermen from Martigues wished to carry out a fund management project in front of the Cape sector -Crowned. This project took shape in 1996, with the creation of one of the largest fully protected marine areas in the Mediterranean (210 ha).

The Blue Coast and the Estaque Hills
The Côte Bleue (Blue Coast) is a jagged limestone coastline that stretches for 30 kilometres between Martigues and Marseille. It is a succession of calanques (coves), little creeks and beaches nestling against the Estaque Hills One side of this chain encloses the Bay of Marseille on the north-west and, at the same time, its other side protects the basin of Berre Lagoon. It is a limestone arc of wild landscape, cut into by narrow winding vales at medium altitudes (180 – 280 m). The hills drop sharply into the sea along most of the coast; sometimes fishermen’s hamlets and weekend cabins cling to the steep crags. In the western part, the chain softens into plateaux and there are fine sandy beaches. A regional marine park was created in 1983 on the initiative of four local councils. It includes a 70 hectares conservation area off the coast from Sausset, and a peripheral area of 3,000 hectares that includes the entire coastline of the Blue Coast.

Heritage on coastline

Oppidum de St Pierre les Martigues
On the knoll in the centre of the farmed plain, vestiges of the habitat and fortifications of a Gallic oppidum and a Gallo-Roman town (600BC to 100AD) where a population of peasants and fishermen had close ties with Marseille. Facsimile of mud-brick houses from the iron age, stone quarries and medieval chapels.

Lighthouse at Cap Couronne
The lighthouse stands at the south of La Couronne village, at the eastern entrance of Golfe de Fos. It is the only lighthouse on the Côte Bleue, between the small port of Carro to the west and Estaque in the east, very close to Marseille. The monument is in a magnificent setting surrounded by small inlets. It was built in 1959. A cylindrical tower, the lower part is white and the top is red. The lighthouse has a radar antenna. Automated and guarded 24/7. It is 36 metres high. The scope of the light is 20 miles. The light is provided by a 650 W halogen lamp and a red light occults every 3 seconds.

Baou Tailla quarries
Located at the extreme south-west of La Nerthe peninsula, the shelly limestone quarries (tender pink rock) in La Couronne are well known for having provided stone for Marseille constructions at different times. Baou Tailla means hewn cliff. The activity of quarrymen marked the landscape around the village of La Couronne and Carro, the small port from where materials were sent to Marseille for constructions like the Vieille Charité and the town hall.

Church of Saint-Pierre-les-Martigues
In the heart of the Saint-Pierre hamlet, the high white steeple of Église de Saint-Pierre emerges from the surrounding pine forest, indicating the presence of the church. A simple visit is insufficient to understand the genesis of this modest work, from the construction which probably dates back to the medieval period, and more than likely on the foundations of a former antique temple… It was extensively restored and re-opened on 19 June 2018.

The church now resembles its appearance at the end of the 19th century. Unpleasant additions were removed and the original harmonious volumes were restored to human proportions. Patrice Sales is the heritage architect responsible for the restoration.

Chapel of Saint Julien
The northern façade of the Chapelle de Saint Julien features a stone bas-relief of La Couronne which probably belonged to a monumental mausoleum. It represents a familiar funeral scene with a couple in the centre with two small children surrounded by two figures wearing gowns and two soldiers.

Built during the first century AD, it is linked to the creation of a villa lower on the plain. The building is a tribute to the first master and founder of the residential and farming estate of Saint Julien. A symbol of the romanisation of Martigues, it expresses the integration of the local elite in a new political and social system.

Chapel of the Holy Cross
Vestiges of a 12th-century chapel built where Saint Lazare planted a cross. The pilgrimage of Sainte Croix was very famous. In 1832 the Duchesse du Berry visited here. Three brotherhoods from Martigues came barefoot for penance on 3 May and 14 September.

Saint-Jean Baptist Church (La Couronne)
Built in 1669 in the village of quarrymen, At the corner of the bell tower, the artisans have engraved their signatures. Inside: the showcase of quarry tools. Since the Middle Ages, a village occupied the place called La Couronne Vieille, on the coast, not far from stone quarries where many fishermen went to get supplies. It is found named for the first time in an act of the mid-fourteenth century. Its inhabitants were parishioners of the Saint-Genies

In 1666, new quarries were opened on a nearby site soon named La Couronne. The population that resided on the coast came to settle there: a church was thus built, dedicated to Saint-Jean-Baptiste, and a parish was erected, like branch of Jonquières. Today, Saint-Jean-Baptiste parish of La Couronne still exists, but La Couronne has become a district of Martigues

The small museum of Carro
Two villages in one. La Couronne has the town hall and church and Carro has the port. The beach – stretching between the two – attracts swimmers. Past activities included stone-masonry, fishing, farming and breeding sheep.

The simple daily life of our ancestors, fishermen, stone-masons, peasants and shepherds. Reproduce this more or less distant past. Research revealed objects and documents which recount the history of the villages which, after all, have very strong ties.