Sometimes overshadowed by the more bourgeois town of Cassis, La Ciotat is nevertheless well worth a visit. The birthplace of cinema and pètanque – two of France’s pride and joys – La Ciotat also harbours a wealth of not-to-be-missed natural gems.
The birthplace of cinema…
Incredible but true: two of France’s favourite leisure activities – pétanque and cinema – were both born in this little town of 35,000 inhabitants! The cinematograph was presented to the public for the first time on September 21st, 1895 at the Palais Lumière, where the family of Louis Lumière, the inventor of moving pictures, was spending summer. The second screening was held a month later at the Eden Theatre, which remains the only cinema from the era still open today.
In 1908, Jules Lenoir, a boules player suffering from arthritis, invented Provence’s favourite game pétanque (boules), when he decided to keep both feet firmly planted on the ground (pieds tanqués) while he was playing. La Ciotat’s thirst for innovation has also led the town to instigate one of Europe’s first non-smoking beaches, while another beach is reserved for dogs and their masters and mistresses.
A maritime legacy – and more
Various fellowships and shipowners have also left their mark on this historic birthplace of shipbuilding: their legacy includes superb mansion houses such as La Bastide Marin, owned by the Order of Malta. Its religious buildings include Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde Chapel, the Chapel of the Blue Penitents and Chapel of the Black Penitents.
Behind the shipyards, two breathtaking red rock fjords nestle in the shadow of the Bec de l’Aigle mountain. Calanque de Mugel is situated near the park of the same name. Georges Braque found inspiration at Calanque de Figuerolles. The final little treasure of this resourceful town is Île Verte, measuring just 430 m x 260 m, where you can enjoy a picnic in the shade of two little coves. You can reach it by sea kayak or on the ferry.
UNDER THE PROVENCE SUN
From the bustling Mediterranean metropolis of Marseille to the magnificent nature and villages in Provence's countryside, a slideshow of picturesque beauty awaits you on this Provence itinerary. A not-to-miss experience!