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Marseilles (Municipality, France): Yacht clubs

Part 2: Vieux-Port, Quai du Port

Last modified: 2010-12-03 by ivan sache
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The Vieux-Port of Marseille

The Vieux-Port (Old Port) of Marseilles is the historical port of the town and one of its main emblematic places, together with the Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde church (la Bonne Mère), the Stade Vélodrome and the Canebière street.
The Vieux-Port is a narrow, U-shaped basin (600 x 200 m), protected by an even smaller bottleneck watched by the St. John and St. Nicholas forts. It is more or less the place where the colonists from Asia Minor landed c. 600 BP. In the Middle Ages, the marshes located at the end of the port were drained and grown with hemp, a hemp field being called in French chènevière, from chanvre, "hemp". Once spun to make rigging, hemp disappeared long ago from Marseilles but the street linking the Vieux-Port to the center of the town has kept the name of Canebière.
The Vieux-Port remained the center of the maritime activity in Marseilles until the 19th century, when it was deemed to shallow (6 meters) for the big ships. A new port was built in the borough of La Joliette, where the ferry and container activity is located today. The Vieux-Port is only used by fishers, yachtmen and the local and cruise lines towards the islands of the Frioul and If.

Several yacht clubs and fishers' associations have kept their club house in the Vieux-Port. The biggest clubs, such as the CNTL and the SNM, have huge floating clubhouses with restaurants, lounges and several other facilities, whereas the smaller ones have a few moorings and a small wooden club-house built on the quay.

Part 2 of this series shall describe the yacht clubs located on the Quai du Port - north, on right hand when looking at the sea, where the town hall of Marseilles was built.

Ivan Sache, 13 December 2003

Association des Pêcheurs Professionnels et Plaisanciers de Saint-Jean (APPP Saint-Jean)

[Flag of APPP Saint-Jean]

Flag of APPP Saint-Jean - Photo by Ivan Sache, 26 April 2009

Association des Pêcheurs Professionnels et Plaisanciers de Saint-Jean (APPP Saint-Jean) was officially registered on 19 March 2008, as published in the French official gazette on 29 March 2008.
The yacht club owns two floating wharfs (pannes) in the Vieux-Port of Marseilles, close to Fort Saint-Jean.

The flag of APPP Saint-Jean is blue with Fort Saint-Jean in orange, surmonted by the white letters "A.P.P.P. SAINT-JEAN".
Fort Saint-Jean was considered by the local historian Raoul Busquet as the most beautiful monument of Marseilles ("Its towers and walls, impregnated with the sun's gold, has a unique appearance of strength without any heaviness"). The fort is still watching the entrance of the Vieux-Port; the quay at its feet is a popular place of walking, fishing, and even (while most probably prohibited) swimming.

Seven to eight centuries ago, the northern side of the Vieux-Port ended with a steep promontory, once included in the Castle Babo, built in the 11th century to protect the town against the Sarracens' raids. The tower built on this very same place, at the entrance of the port, was called Tower Maubert, or Turreta Portus, or Turris Catenae Portus, referring to the chain (in Latin, catena) closing the port that was fixed to the base of the tower. The neighbouring borough was subsequently named Tourette. The Knights of St. John of Jerusalem built in the 13th century a commandry and a church on the slope of the promontory, in the background of the tower; commissioned to watch a wall that linked the commandry to the town wall, they did not care at all to repair it.
After the sack of the town by the Aragonese fleet of King Alfonso in 1423, Count of Provence René ordered to replace Tower Maubert by the St. John Tower, named after the commandry located nearby. Built from 1447 to 1452, the square tower has hardly been modified since then. Engineer Jehan Pardo and mason Jehan Rober were paid 4,222 guilders for their work, 2,000 guilders being provided by the town of Marseilles, 1,200 guilders by the fishers of Marseilles, and the remaining fee by René himself.
Fort Saint-Jean is famous for its round tower, known as the beacon's tower, built in 1644 to replace a smaller watch tower. Looking like a minaret, the tower increases the oriental aspect of the fort. A fire was burned on its top, to be used by the seamen as a signal, perpetuating a tradition already documented in the 14th century.

At the end of the 15th century, the Hospitallers built the Commander's Hotel, which was conidered until the middle of the 17th century as "the only house in Marseilles worth housing princes and people of high quality". Together with the two towers, the Hospitallers' commandry, church, hotel and cemetary formed a single city linked to the lower town of Marseilles by a steep street. In 1666, King Louis XIV ordered the increase of the town and expelled the Hospitalers. After six years of work, the promontory remained linked to the mainland only by a narrow isthmus and all the Hospitallers' buildings had been replaced by fortifications, designed by Vauban. The promontory became Fort Saint-Jean. In the 19th century, the isthmus was replaced by a canal to facilitate communication between the Vieux-Port and the new port of La Joliette and the Fort became an island; filled up in the 20th century, the canal was replaced by a street.

Used from time to time as a jail during the Ancient Regime, Fort Saint- Jean was attacked on 2 May 1790; Knight of Bausset, commanding the Regiment of Vexin, refused to surrender and was killed at the entrance of the fort. In April 1793, the "members of the Bourbon family", that is, the Duke of Orléans, aka Philippe-Égalité, his two sons, the Dukes of Montpensier and Beaujolais, his sister, the Duchess of Bourbon and the Prince of Conti, arrested by Decree of the Convention of 7 April 1793, were jailed in Fort Saint-Jean. Sent back to Paris, Philippe- Égalité was guillotinized on 23 October 1793. The other prisoners were released only in November 1796 and transported to the USA by a Swedish ship. After the fall of Robespierre, 127 Jacobins, jailed in Fort Saint-Jean, were all slaughtered on 5 June 1795 by a band called the Compagnons du Soleil.

Source: André Boulaya d'Arnaud. Évocation du vieux Marseille, Éditions de Minuit, Paris, 1961

Completely revamped, Fort Saint-Jean will be a main component of the futur MuCEM (Musée des civilisations Europe Méditerranée), partially housed in the former barracks of the fort since 2003, and expected to be inaugurated in 2013, celebrating Marseilles as the European Capital of Culture (together with Košice, Slovakia).

Ivan Sache, 21 September 2009

Cercle des Voiliers Phocéens (CVP)

[Burgee of CVP]

Burgee of CVP - Image by Ivan Sache, 2 May 2010

Phocéens is the nickname of the inhabitants of Marseilles, recalling that the town was founded by Greek colonists from Phokia, Asia Minor, in French, Phocée.

The burgee of CVP, as observed on 21 December 2005, is yellow with a blue border and the blue letters "CVP".

Ivan Sache, 2 May 2010

Union Nautique du Canal de la Douane (UNCD)

[UN Canal de la Douane]

Burgee of UNCD - Image by Ivan Sache, 13 December 2003

The ancient building of the maritime customs (douane), still in use today, was bordered in the past by a narrow canal.
The burgee of UNCD is white with a blue cross. A red disc charged with the white letters "UN" / "CD" (on two rows) is placed in the middle of the cross.

Ivan Sache, 13 December 2003

Cercle Nautique Phocéen (CNP)

[CN Phoceen]

Burgee of CNP - Image by Ivan Sache, 13 December 2003

Phocéen is often used as an epithet for the town of Marseilles (la cité phocéenne), as a reference to the early colonists from Phocea / Phokia (Asia Minor) who founded the town of Massalia.
The burgee of CNP is white with a light blue cross and the blue letters "CNP" placed on an imaginary diagonal, the "N" being in the middle of the cross.

Ivan Sache, 13 December 2003

Canotiers Marseillais

[Flag of CM]         [Flag of CM]

Flag and burgee of Canotiers Marseillais - Images by Ivan Sache, 2 May 2010

On 10 January 2008, the SCM changed its official name to Canotiers Marseillais, the change being published in the French official gazette on 19 January 2008.

While the burgee of the club does not seem to have been changed, except in details, the flag of the club, hoisted over its club house in the Vieux-Port of Marseilles, reflects the change in the name, "S.C.M." being replaced by "CANOTIERS MARSEILLAIS".
By comparison with my reports dated December 2003, the letters are now dark blue, if not black, and there are dots after the letters on the burgee.

Ivan Sache, 2 May 2010

Société des Canotiers Marseillais (SCM)

[Flag of SCM]         [Burgee of SCM]

Flag and burgee of SCM - Image by Ivan Sache, 13 December 2003

Canotiers is a rather old-fashioned word for boaters.
The flag of the SCM, as hoisted over the club house, is horizontally divided red-white-red with the blue letters "SCM" on the white stripe.
The burgee of the SCM is a triangular version of flag.

Ivan Sache, 13 December 2003

Union Nautique Provençale (UNP)

[Flag of UNP]         [Burgee of UNP]

Flag and burgee of UNP - Image by Ivan Sache, 13 December 2003

The flag of UNP, as hoisted over the club house, is vertically divided regular blue-white (seven stripes), with the red letters "U", "N" and "P" placed in the white stripes, respectively.
The burgee of UNP is a triangular version of the flag.

Ivan Sache, 13 December 2003

Association des Vieux Marins Bateliers du Vieux Port

[Vieux Marins Bateliers]

Burgee of Association des Vieux Marins Bateliers du Vieux Port - Image by Ivan Sache, 13 December 2003

Batelier (from bateau, "ship") is another word for seaman.
The burgee of the club is white with a light blue cross and a red anchor placed in the middle of the cross.

Ivan Sache, 13 December 2003