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

Last modified: 2004-07-17 by
Keywords: bouches-du-rhone | yacht club | vesse (la) | redonne (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

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