Martigues, also known as Provençal Venice, has attracted and inspired many painters and moviemakers. It is located in the Bouches-du-Rhône department, between the Étang de Berre and the Mediterranean coast, and visitors appreciate its rich natural heritage. In summer, the beaches of Martigues such as the Beach of La Couronne and the Beach of Sainte Croix are really popular. Nature lovers can also go to the Grand Parc de Figuerolles—Paul Lombard to enjoy outdoor activities. If you feel like hiking and discovering the landscapes of Martigues, follow the marked path of the coastline. If you keep walking along the coast, you will be able to go to nearby tourist destinations such as Sausset-les-Pins and Carry-le-Rouet.
Visit, alone or with a guide, the city center and the district of the Isle, a real little paradise. The flowered canals and moored boats offer an idyllic setting for a meal on the terrace of a restaurant. Take this opportunity to taste the specialties of the region.
During your holidays in Martigues, don’t forget to visit the monuments which are part of the cultural heritage of the town such as the chapel of Sainte Croix, the Notre Dame des Marins chapel, etc. If you are an art lover go to the Musée Ziem to admire the works temporarily on display such as those of Paul Signac, Auguste Rodin or Camille Claudel.
Throughout the year, the town comes alive and festive events are organized to honor traditions and bring tourists and locals together. Among the most famous are, La Soirée Vénitienne (Venetian Evening), La Fête de la Mer et de l’Étang (Sea and Pond Festival), La Course Pédestre Martigues – Carro (Pedestrian Race), and the night-time show of Strolls in the Mirror.
Grand Parc de Figuerolles – Paul Lombard
The Grand Parc de Figuerolles – Paul Lombard is located at the northern entrance to Martigues. It is a wooded area bordering the Étang de Berre. It is the ideal place for families and the most athletic. Various outdoor activities are offered: rope climbing, mountain biking, hiking, an educational farm with about a hundred animals and more. On their way, walkers can discover the 6 Mediterranean gardens as well as the landscapes. The park extends over nearly 130 hectares where a rich fauna and flora develops.
Labeled “Môm’Art” (French label aiming to help museums and cultural centers to improve the reception of children and families), the Musée Ziem was created thanks to the donations of the painter Félix Ziem. The first and second floors of the building host temporary exhibitions with paintings by Paul Signac, Auguste Rodin, Camille Claudel, Raoul Dufy, André Derain and more. The top floor of the museum is dedicated to a permanent exhibition of archeological collections. The results of excavations on the territory, from prehistory to modern times, are on display. Throughout the year discussion meetings in connection with the collections on display are organized. The museum also organizes introductory workshops on art history and visual arts which are reserved for children.
Miroir aux oiseaux
The Miroir aux Oiseaux (Bird Mirror) includes Canal Saint-Sébastien, the bird mirror and the Brescon Quay. The site has been listed since 1942. You will enjoy strolling along the quays and houses with colorful façades. Different painters such as Delacroix, Ziem, Dufy and more have represented, in their paintings, the flowered canals. Today, some tartanes are still moored, but the first floors of the houses are no longer used for fishing. Restaurants have taken possession of the place. The name “bird mirror” is due to the calm of the lake, which allows the façades to reflect in the water.
Chapel of Sainte Croix
The chapel of Sainte Croix is located on the ruins of a 12th century chapel. The chapel overlooks the sea and offers a breathtaking view of the bay of La Ciotat. The building was restored, the oratories were rehabilitated, and the cross has been changed by a new one designed by a local craftsman. According to legend, Mary Magdalene and the Christians driven out of Palestine stopped at the chapel of Sainte Croix before returning to Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer.
Fort de Bouc
At the mouth of the Caronte canal, the Fort de Bouc is classified as a historical monument. It was both a monument dedicated to the defense of the city, and a lighthouse. Its location, between the Gulf of Fos and the Étang de Berre, allowed it to play a central role in maritime trade. The fort and the medieval tower have benefited from restoration work. The Fort was then opened to the public. The visit begins with a boat trip to the site.
- Tourist Office of Martigues: https://www.martigues-tourisme.com/
- Road service: A55 Highway (from Aix-en-Provence or Marseille), N568 national road (from Arles or Nîmes), D5 secondary road (from Salon de Provence or Istres)
- Air access: Marseille Provence Airport (30 minutes)
- Railroad access: Martigues, Croix-Sainte, and La Couronne train stations
- Sea access: port Maritima