Discover pointus: the traditional fishing boats of Provence - Provence

Pointus: The fishing boats of Provence

Dear to the people of Provence, pointus are ancient little fishing boats now part of local heritage, maintained with loving care and traditional know-how. Discover their history and take to the waves for a wholly original boat ride!

 

Pointus: A Provençal story

You’ll find them in the ports of Marseille, Bandol, Toulon, Hyères and all the way to Antibes, moored at the quayside and gently cradled by the waves. A traditional, colourful and timeless fishing boat, the pointu – also called the barquette marseillaise – embodies all the charm and poetry of the Provencal coast. Its name (meaning “pointed”) is simply owed to its shape. It is said that the first pointu was built in Marseille in the late 19th century at the workshop of an Italian-born carpenter named André Ruoppolo.

A priceless heritage

Now part of France’s Intangible Cultural Heritage, the pointu is deeply anchored in the hearts of the people of Provence. It evokes joyful childhood memories for some and memorable fishing trips for others. Whatever the case, it is always associated with good times and is an intrinsic part of our closely-guarded local heritage. In June, around 30 boats take part in the “Fête des Pointus” on Île de Porquerolles. And authentic pointus were used in the latest remakes of Marcel Pagnol’s films “Marius” et “Fanny” by Daniel Auteuil, shot in location in Marseille, where 200 of these ancient boats are moored.

Ancient know-how

The conservation of Provence’s pointus is owed to the tireless commitment of a handful of devotees. From Marseille to Menton, several associations are dedicated to them, including Les Pointus de Sanary, Pointus, Légendes et Traditions in Bandol and Copains des Pointus d’Antibes. The rare builders that continue to make the boats include the Trapani boatyard in Cassis and Borg boatyard in Marseille. You can enjoy a tour of the Borg boatyard and even take part in a building class.

A boat tour in a pointu

Fancy trying a pointu for yourself? Climb aboard La Sainte Anne, now a listed monument, in the company of skipper Yannick from Localanque. On the programme: a discovery tour of Marseille’s Vieux-Port (Old Port). If you want to explore the Corniche, Frioul, Côte Bleue or the Calanques fjords, get in touch with the association Boud’mer – they are also dedicated to preserving pointus and offer fabulous boat tours.

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