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Marseilles (Municipality, France): Flags and burgees of yacht clubs

Part 1

Last modified: 2004-07-17 by
Keywords: marseilles | yacht club | cross (blue) | star (white) | stars: 2 (white) | crown (yellow) | anchor: fouled (red) |
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The Vieux-Port of Marseilles

The Vieux-Port (Old-Port) of Marseilles is the historical port of the city and one of the main emblematic places of the city, along 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 placed under the protection of the St. John and St. Nicholas fort. It is more or less the place where the colons from Asia Minor landed c. 600 BP. In the Middle Ages, the marshes located at the end of the port were transformed into hempen field, called in French chènevière, from chanvre, hemp. Hemp was spun to make rigging. The hempen fields have disappeared but the street which links the Vieux-Port to the center of the city has kept the name of Canebière. The Vieux-Port remained the center of the maritime activity in Marseilles until the XIXth 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 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 big clubs, such as the CNTL and the SNM, have huge floating clubhouses with restaurants, lounges and several other facilities, whereas the smallest ones have a few moorings and a small wooden club-house built on the quay.

Part 1 of this series shall describe the yacht clubs located on the Quai de Rive-Neuve - south, on left hand when looking at the sea, where the former arsenal was built.

Ivan Sache, 13 December 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.
The SNM is famous for its floating club house, moored at Quai de Rive-Neuve in the Vieux-Port 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 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 blue cross recalls of course the municipal banner of arms of Marseilles. The flag is 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 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


Club Nautique et Touristique du Lacydon

[CNT Lacydon]by Ivan Sache

The Club Nautique et Touristique du Lacydon (CNTL) was founded on 20 January 1970 by Roger Corvi, Claude Galli and Henri Porta. It has more than 500 members and c. 450 moorings for sail and motor boats.

Lacydon is the name of the port where the Greek settlers Protis and Gyptis are said to have landed in the VIth century BP.

The burgee of the CNTL is white with a blue border and the blue logo of the yacht club placed near the hoist. The shade of blue is darker than on the flag of Marseilles.

Ivan Sache, 8 May 2003


Union Nautique Marseillaise

[UN Marseillaise]by Ivan Sache

The Union Nautique Marseillaise is the oldest yacht club in Marseilles. It was founded in 1882.

The burgee of the UNM is a red triangular flag with two white stars placed vertically along the hoist and the white letters U.N.M. placed horizontally in the middle of the flag.

Source: UNM website

Ivan Sache, 5 July 2003


Cercle des Raceurs Catalans

[CR Catalans]by Ivan Sache

The word raceurs, not in use today, is a Frenchized form of "racers". The borough near the entrance of the Vieux-Port is called the Catalans' borough, the Catalans' beach being very famous in Marseilles.

The Catalan settlement in Marseilles dates back to the Seven Years' War (1756-1763), which opposed Britain and Prussia to an alliance set up by France and Austria. France was defeated in Germany, Canada and India and lost Canada, India and Louisiana (treaty of Paris, 10 February 1763), whereas Prussia kept Silesia (treaty of Hubertsbourg, 15 February 1763).

During the war, Choiseul (1719-1785), State Secretary of Foreign Affairs of king of France Louis XV (1715-1774) arranged the Pacte de Famille in 1761. This "Family Treaty" was signed by the Bourbon sovereigns of France, Spain, Parma and Naples to counter the British Navy. The outcome of the war was rather desastrous for France in spite of Choiseul's diplomatic skills, and the French people turned again the king, who was no longer nicknamed le Bien-aimé (the Beloved) but accusated to have signed the Pacte de Famine ("Famine Treaty") with the grain merchants in order to cause an incresae in the price of grain and artificial starvation.

One of the articles of the "Family Pact" allowed Catalans fishers to settle in Marseilles, where they were not welcomed by the local fishers. The Catalans were accused to use unfair fishing methods, such as long-lining, and riots broke out between the two communities. Accordingly, the Catalans were allocated a specific domain in the St. Lambert's cove, which was rapidly renamed the Catalans' cove (anse des Catalans), and established a wealthy colony in the ancient lazaret, which had been abandoned in 1663. However, conflicts between the fishers did not stop and had legal repercussions until 1790, when the Revolution suppressed the royal justice and the Chamber of Commerce.

Source: André Boulaya d'Arnaud. Evocation du Vieux Marseille. Editions de Minuit, Paris, 1961.

Ivan Sache, 13 December 2003


Association des Plaisanciers du Vieux Port

[AP Vieux-Port]by Ivan Sache

A plaisancier is an amateur yachtman, a port de plaisance being a marina, as opposed to a port de commerce.

The burgee of the APVP is quartered green-yellow, with the black letters A, P, V and P in the four quarters, respectively.

Ivan Sache, 13 December 2003


Société Nautique des Pêcheurs Piadiers Marseillais

[SN Pecheurs Piadiers]by Ivan Sache

A pêcheur is a fisher, but I have not been able to find out what piadier means.

The burgee of the SNPP is white with a blue cross and the red letters S, N, P and P in the four quarters, respectively. The burgee is evidently based on the banner of arms of Marseilles, but the shade of blue is darker than on the municipal flag.

Ivan Sache, 13 December 2003


Yacht Motor Club de Marseille

[YMC Marseille]by Ivan Sache

The burgee of the YCM is blue with a red disc.

Ivan Sache, 13 December 2003


Société Nautique Massalia

[SN Massalia]by Ivan Sache

Massalia was the Greek name of Marseilles.

The burgee of the SNM is white with a blue border, a crowned shield of Marseilles near the hoist and the blue letters SNM near the point of the burgee. The blue shade is here similar to the shade used on the municipal flag. The crown most probably does not refer to the kingdom of France, since Marseilles had very bad relations with the king under the Ancient Regime. Louis XIV came in person and entered the city through a breach made into the city walls, and built the St. John and St. Nicholas forts with the cannons aimed at the city and not the sea.

Ivan Sache, 13 December 2003


Syndicat Libre des Pêcheurs Professionnels de Rive Neuve

[SLPP Rive Neuve]by Ivan Sache

A syndicat libre is a local syndicate rather than a trade-unions, both words being in French syndicat.

The burgee of the Syndicat Libre is white with a light blue border, a red fouled anchor inscribed in a red ring and the letters SPCN in blue near the point of the burgee. I don't know the maening of the SPCN acronym.
The burgee is fairly similar in design to the Société Nautique Massalia burgee. The two clubs are close neighbours on the quay and might be related. It might be that the SNM is the yachting branch and the SPCN the fishing branch of the same club, or that one club was formed by a scission from the other one.

Ivan Sache, 13 December 2003

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