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Bouches-du-Rhône (Department, France): Yacht clubs

Last modified: 2003-07-12 by ivan sache
Keywords: bouches-du-rhone | yacht club | port-miou | cassis | cross (blue) | marseilles | pelle (la) | disc (white) | cross (blue) | star (white) | redonne (la) | rove (le) | vesse (la)) |
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Cercle Nautique de la Vesse

[CN La Vesse]by Ivan Sache

La Vesse is a tiny port located at the far end of a calanque on the Blue Coast. The best way to reach it is to go by train or car to the neighbouring village of Niolon, which is comparatively very big, and take a path going to the east and la Vesse via the limestone cliffs. There are about twenty houses in la Vesse, most of them being cabanons. Those cabanons are kinds of cabins in which the inhabitants of Marseilles moved on Sundays. The cabanon is an important part of the local culture, as a mark of individual freedom and a way to escape the big city. The rich merchants of Marseilles also had their cabanons, which were rather called châteaux (castles) and were much more comfortable. During the summer season, they sent their family to the château and joined them on Sundays. There are also the same kinds of cabanons in the hinterland, as popularized by Marcel Pagnol in his autobiographical books.

La Vesse and Niolon are reputed centers of scuba diving. Administratively, they are part of the municipality of le Rove, whose main village is located in the hinterland. Le Rove was famous for its goats.

The burgee of the Cercle Nautique de la Vesse is white with a light blue border and the letters CNV in red placed in the middle.

Ivan Sache, 2 April 2003

Club La Pelle

[Club La Pelle]by Ivan Sache

The Club La Pelle is a yacht club located in Marseilles.
The most common meaning of pelle in French is a shovel. Here, pelle must be understood as a colloquial world for rame, an oar.

The club activity began in 1918, when a group of friends met on week-ends in the small port of the Roucas-Blanc to go sea-skiffing. In 1923, they registered the club name with the aim of promoting nautical sport. The skiffers were later joined by yachtmen, windsurfers and catamaran owners. The port of the Roucas-Blanc is located west of the city center, close to the beaches of Marseilles. Roucas-Blanc is the poshest borough of Marseilles.

The burgee of Club La Pelle is red with a white disk near the hoist.

Source: Club La Pelle website

Ivan Sache, 19 March 2002

Club Nautique de Port-Miou

[CN Port-Miou]by Ivan Sache

Port-Miou is a small port located in the eponymous calanque in the municipality of Cassis.

The calanques are rocky inlets which deeply gash high limestone cliffs. The calanque area spreads between Marseilles and Cassis, and there is of course an old but friendly rivalry between the two cities for revendicating the name and reputation of the calanques. The area is one of the most scenic landscape of the French Mediterranean coast and has been hopefully preserved from urbanization and industrialization until now. It is a paradise for hicking, climbing, sailing, fishing and scuba diving. The area is unfortunately endangered every summer by kooks who find it intresting to set up fire there.

The name of Port Miou is derived from the Latin name of the place, Portus Majus (Large Port), which appears on several medieval maps of Provence.

The Club Nautique de Port-Miou, although located in Cassis, has a burgee clearly influenced by the traditional flag of Marseilles (blue cross on a white field). The cross has a Scnadinavian pattern and initials C, N, P, M in red are placed in the four quarters, respectively.

Source: CNPM website

Ivan Sache, 17 March 2003

The calanques are administratively part of the municipality of Marseilles. The border between the two municipal areas is precisely at the Port Miou calanque, the last one when you navigate from Marseilles to Cassis. There has been a debate about giving them National Park status as they are a refuge for some rare botanical and animal species such as Bonelli eagles.

The influence from Marseilles on the CNPM burgee is normal, most people owning boats in the small harbour of Cassis live or at least work in Marseilles and think themselves as Marseillais.

Philippe Bondurand, 17 May 2001

Société Nautique de la Redonne

[SN La Redonne]by Ivan Sache

La Redonne is a tiny port and village located at the far end of a calanque on the Blue Coast (Côte Bleue).
East of Marseilles, the mountain range of l'Estaque towers up between the pond of Berre and the Mediterranean Sea. The coast of l'Estaque is called the Blue Coast. In its eastern part, between Marseilles and le Rouet, the Blue Coast is made of limestone cliffs jagged by a few small calanques, one of them being la Redonne. The area is now a marine protected area and has remained very wild, since its road access is very tedious. Scenic narrow customs paths link the calanques together. The railway between Marseilles and Martigues runs along the coast through several tunnels and bridges, with wonderful panoramas on Marseilles, the sea and the little villages of the Blue Coast

La Redonne is huddling under the archs of the railway bridge and its neo-Byzantine station. The two streets connecting the village to the rest of the world (one up and one down) are so steep and narrow that a traffic light was installed in the middle of the village to regulate the traffic. Apart from this, the village seems to have hardly changed since the writer Blaise Cendrars (1887-1961) settled there in the beginning of the XXth century. In a novel called La Redonne, Cendrars describes a lost paradise where the fishers were hardly amazed by the author's car and did not mind him parking it on their fishing nets. The fishers used their nets only when they needed food and were too lazy to remove them from the street, which had never seen a car before. Note that Cendrars did not resort to the overused cliches on the Mediterranean idleness but instead celebrated the easy way of life of the fishers of la Redonne. He also enjoyed sharing with them the local beverage, the famous pastis.

The port is now mostly used for leisure and there are only three fishing boats among the 140 boats moored there. Those boats are enough to fill the port and there is a long waiting list for moorage. Close to the port, there is an area where pétanque (bowls) is played, as it is the case in every Mediterranean village. A shield mentions that it is forbidden to play boules between 22:00 and 8:00, and you probably won't have to pay for playing with the "picturesque and traditional autochtons", as it is the case in some "attractive" (i.e. folkloric) Mediterranean villages. La Redonne might be rather crowdy in summer, but during the rest of the year, it is one of the most charming places of the French Mediterranean coast, which was not affected yet by the ravages of mass tourism.

Administratively speaking, la Redonne is a section of the municipality of Ensuès-La Redonne, which has 4,500 inhabitants . The small city of Ensuès is located in the hinterland and was founded by shepherds who had emigrated from the Southern Alps with their cattle. The hamlet of Ensuès already existed when the County of Provence was incorporated into France in 1481. The fishers' villages on the coast most probably predated Ensuès. The village of Ensuès was oddly divided by the border between the municipalities of Châteauneuf-les-Martigues and Gignac-la-Nerthe. In 1835, the municipality of Le Rove was created by secession from Gignac and incorporated the section of Ensuès formerly administrated by Gignac. The inhabitants of Ensuès officially asked for the creation of a municipality in 1850, which was obtained in ... 1933. In 1948, the area of the municipality was increased by 60 hectares ceded by the neighbouring municipality of Carry-le-Rouet (calanque of l'Escarrayol).

The yacht club of La Redonne is the Société Nautique de la Redonne. The burgee of the SNR is vertically divided blue-white-red, with the letters S (white), N (red), and R (white), placed in the blue, white and red stripes, respectively. At least this is the real burgee, which can be seen on boats moored in the port.

[SNR variant]by Ivan Sache

However, the burgee painted on the tiny club house has the same pattern, but with red-white-blue stripes.

[SNR variant 2]by Ivan Sache

To make the things even more complicated, the burgee shown on the SNR stickers has red-white-blue stripes and the letters SNR in gold!

Ivan Sache, 2 April 2003

Société Nautique de Marseille

The Société Nautique de Marseille (SNM) is the oldest yacht club still active in Marseilles. It is the second oldest yacht club still active in France, the oldest one being the Sociétés des Régates du Havre, in Normandy. The SNM was founded on 12 February 1887 by secession from the Société des Régates de Marseille, which had been founded in 1861. The SNM was state-approved by decree on 2 March 1932. The SNM is nicknamed la Nautique, as if it was the only yacht club in Marseilles.
The SNM is famous for its floating club house, moored at Quai Rive-Neuve in the Vieux-Port of Marseilles since 1889. This big club house includes the club offices, meeting rooms, a library and a restaurant.

The SNM organizes several races, among which the most renowned are

  • The Semaine Nautique Internationale de la Méditerranée (SNIM - Mediterranean International Sailing Week), which features more than 200 sailing boats every year during Easter week.
  • The Vire-à-Vire, a festival rather than a race, which features more than 200 local and motor boats on the first Sunday of October.

The SNM membership is currently over 500. More than 300 sailing and motor boats are registered at the SNM.

[Flag of the SNM]by Ivan Sache

The flag of the SNM is horizontally divided red-white-red with a blue Scandinavian cross in the white stripe and a white star tilted to the canton placed in canton. The flag is proudly hoisted over the floating club house.

[Burgee of the SNM]by Ivan Sache

The burgee of the SNM can be seen on the boats moored near the club house. It is a triangular version of the flag. The blue cross recalls of course the municipal banner of arms of Marseilles.
The burgee of the SNM is also shown on the club logo, but in a slightly different pattern. First, the burgee is shown as a very thin waving triangle with a centered blue cross and red stripes extending more than geometrically possible. Second, the star is not tilted.

Source: SNM website

Ivan Sache, 31 March 2003