Wednesday, 11 November 2015

The island town of Martigues

Our host at Camping Neptune made a point of telling us that we should
Tunisian bakery in Martigues 
visit the nearby town of Martigues, nicknamed the 'Provencale Venice' because of its canals, docks and bridges. Martigues bridges the water route from l'Etang de berre out to the Mediterranean and is built on both banks as well as a central island. There are streets of pastel coloured houses, lots of small boats moored and a vibrant cafe culture with frequent North African influences. I was tempted to try a Couscous restaurant on the waterside, but as we were only visiting for a snack lunch and stroll about we chose to buy sweet cakes from a Tunisian bakery instead and ate them on a park bench in the shade.

There are two significant parks, one a traditional style tree lined grass space and the other, which covers the pointed end of the island, being modern looking - decked steps, tub chairs and with small fountains in shallow rectangular pools. The modern park was proudly opened by the Mayor in 2011. Also surprisingly modern, architecturally, are the large theatre and the massive Hotel de Ville (Town Hall).

A few sculptures dot Martigues. We both liked this Pecheur et
Pecheur et Ramendeuse 
Ramendeuse au debut XXieme siecle (Fisherman and Netmaker at the start of the 20th century) on the quayside. The pair were sculpted by Sebastien Langloys and installed in 2010.

An archaeological exhibition is tucked away in a tranquil Place and shows an uncovered street surface believed to date back some 2,500 years, to the Gaulois time, together with recreations of wattle and daub housing, pottery urns and other household goods. The whole scene covers the equivalent of a shop front and is behind glass so I couldn't get a good photo, but it was interesting to view. The town that became Martigues was apparently first built over an abandoned Roman settlement. We saw a plaque commemorating the 300th anniversary of the 1581 signing of an Act of Union by Jonquieres Ferrieres and this name is repeated all over the town for businesses, the main car park and street names.

Small boats moored at Martigues 
A Martigues street 

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