Posts Tagged ‘Calanque’

C’est fait!’ announced La Provence yesterday. The ‘ce’ in the headline is the new Parc National des Calanques, France’s newest national park and the first in 6 years. And it is also the world’s 3rdparc periurbain’, after Cape Town and Sydney, due to the proximity of Marseille and Cassis.

Prime Minister François Fillon was in Cassis yesterday to sign the decree which ends years of debate. The Calanques, with around 30 long creeks lined by high cliffs, attract more than two million visitors a year; this growing interest has to be carefully managed to protect the natural balance of the area which includes 140 protected species of flora and fauna. Key points:

  • Non-fishing areas will cover 10.5% of the sea area
  • Jet-skis banned
  • Boatmen can’t use loudspeakers in the calanques in order to preserve the tranquillity
  • Hunting restrictions
  • Hikers asked to keep to marked paths
  • Extreme sports banned
  • No camping
  • Visitor centres will be built at the main entry points to give information and guidance.

Life will doubtless go on in the little communities of cabanons in the calanques where families gather each summer for apéros in the sunshine….especially the famous local pastis from Ricard.

A celebration of its colourful publicity has started in Paris at the Musée Les Arts Décoratifs.  Entitled ‘Ricard depuis 1932’ it celebrates 80 years of creative communications around the brand which so brilliantly evokes the blue sea, hot yellow sun and happy ambiance of Mediterranean evenings.

It’s on until 26th August and there are related activities like an evening conference by the branding agencies and Ricard marketing people on the 24th May.



Wouldn’t it be a good idea to showcase all these exhibits and  information locally for the Year of Culture?  I hope they will!

Read Full Post »

Hiking in the Calanques gives you wonderful views of the lovely Mediterranean coast but also gives glimpses of life in the cabanons.  These are the little cottages which cluster round the ports and straggle up the rocky hillsides.  In Le Cabanon, author Jean-Max Tixier describes how, in the last century, workers in Marseille with enough money would buy or build somewhere so they could get out of town at the weekend.  These workers would typically have been artisans, dockers, shop-keepers, and they and their families would join the existing fishermen to form tightly-knit communities who met up summer after summer.

They shared their apéros, pastis, and meals a la bonne franquette. They went fishing, played boules, organised fetes, played cards, bathed, and made bouillabaisse

The cabanoniers were not keen on outsiders – Tixier explains that ‘Parisian’  was one of their most disparaging put-downs – but he describes how, sociologically, these communities were very valuable.  He feels that they were very stabilising for families – they were not at work and had time to develop activities together, especially with the network of friends around them.  He also describes the experience as a ‘civic apprenticeship’ where children would be socialised to understand the needs of others.

 Life in the Calanques changed in the 70s with the arrival of pleasure yachts – and I expect Marseille families would have been holidaying further afield too.

But the photography in this book, by Aix-based Camille Moirenc, is lovely – it is a fascinating snapshot of an unusual way of life which still persists in our region.

Read Full Post »