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Art and Shopping on the Côte Bleue

Charming Martigues, which has cast its spell on painters, creative Istres, proud of its lagoon with its lively shores, and Miramas, a shopping destination. The towns of the Côte Bleue have a definite appeal.

Martigues

Provençal Venice

Where the Mediterranean meets the Étang de Berre, Martigues dances on water. Its many canals earned it the well-deserved nickname of the Provençal Venice. Moored at its quays, fishing boats look onto multi-coloured houses. They can be seen from the Saint-Sébastien Bridge and the Miroir aux Oiseaux [Birds’ Mirror], the name of a part of Brescon Quay. The whole place is bathed in a brilliant light which has inspired filmmakers and painters, including Félix Ziem, who fell under the spell of Martigues in 1860. Pop round to the Musée Ziem to look at his paintings. They are beside those of the great names of fauvism, including Dufy and Derain. It is time to enjoy poutargue, a local specialty made using dried mullet eggs.

Martigues Tourist Office
Rond-point De l’Hôtel de Ville
Maison du Tourisme
13500 Martigues
+ 33 (0)4 42 42 31 10
www.martigues-tourisme.com

Istres

A Surprising Lagoon

Located right in the heart of Istres, the Étang de l’Olivier and its verdant banks are the lungs of the town. You cross the banks on a bike ride or for a jog. You can slide across the water on a pedalo or on a solar-powered boat to admire the highest water jet in France, more than 50 metres high. From mid-July to mid-August, there is a guinguette atmosphere on Thursdays when lighting events and fireworks can be enjoyed. Istres is also a creative town. The Art’Animaux which have invaded the Parc de l’Olivier, the floating urchins which bloom on the lake and the exhibitions in Saint-Sulpice Chapel are evidence of that. Perched on a rocky summit, the Old Town, for its part, has retained its soul.

Istres Tourist Office
30 allées Jean Jaurès
13800 Istres
+33 (0)4 42 81 76 00
www.istres-tourisme.com

Miramas

Destination History and Shopping

Miramas-le-Vieux has everything of an authentic perched Provençal village. From the remains of Viscounts of Marseilles’s castle, built in the 12th century, you can enjoy a clear panorama over the Étang de Berre ​​​​​. The little streets of the village, studded with vaulted passages, slope gently to shady little squares. Here and there, an old tile factory reminds us of the past of Miramas-le-Vieux, where they also manufactured bricks. In 2017, the opening of the McArthurGlen Outlet Village made Miramas an essential shopping destination in Provence. It comprises 120 premium and luxury brand shops where trendy clothes can be found at knock-down prices, from 30 to 70% off.

Miramas Tourist Office
Avenue Falabrègues
13140 Miramas
+ 33 (0)4 90 58 08 24
www.miramas.org

Fos-sur-Mer

A Multiple Identity

Between influences from the Camargue and an industrial harbour area, Fos-sur-Mer is a town of contrasts. Its charming Provençal village will cast a spell on you, as will the peace of the mediaeval site of the Hauture, perched on a hill. There you can savour an open view of the Étang de Berre​​​, the salt marshes and the sea. In recent years, efforts made in respect of sustainable development are bearing fruit. In Fos-sur-Mer, we now enjoy beaches of high-quality deep blue waters.

Fos-sur-Mer Tourist Office
50 avenue Jean Jaurès
13270 Fos-sur-Mer
+33 (0)4 42 47 71 96
www.fossurmer.fr