Essential La Ciotat – the cradle of cinema

Culture - Family

For your one-day tour of La Ciotat, you can relax on the Grande Plage or the beach at Figuerolles, a popular spot for locals that you can't leave without seeing. Cinema lovers should head to the Eden Théâtre, famous for screening one of the first films produced by the Lumière brothers. The birth of film is also honoured at the Musée Ciotaden, a museum that retraces the town's history and the traditions of Provence. After an excellent lunch at Le Vin 7, potter around the shops at the Old Port. Later, make your way to the Ile Verte and Parc du Mugel for stunning views. Just don't forget your camera!

An invigorating stroll along the Grande Plage

Grande Plage

Begin your day at the Grande Plage, the main beach in La Ciotat beside Les Capucins port and the Cyrnos and Lumière beaches. Take a dip in the Med, of course, or settle for the morning on a towel or sun lounger on the soft sand. If sunbathing isn't for you, there are a host of water sports on offer and lots of play areas for kids. The extras: the beach is patrolled in high season and there are places to eat looking out to sea or on the sand. Paid parking close by.

In the footsteps of the Lumière brothers at the Eden Théâtre

Eden Théâtre 25 boulevard Georges Clémenceau 13600 La Ciotat

Make sure you stop to admire the Eden Théâtre, the oldest cinema in the world set in La Ciotat's historic centre along the coastal path that leads to the Old Port. Opened in 1889 by the Lumière brothers, it was the very first place where moving images were screened! The first reel showed a film named 'The Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat station'. The building is listed as an Historic Monument. The cinema puts on lots of events and programmes a host of original screenings through the year.

The history of Provence at the Musée Ciotaden

Musée Ciotaden 1 quai Ganteaume 13600 La Ciotat

"Continue your tour by walking a few metres along to the municipal museum. The building inaugurated by Napoleon III was originally the local town hall before it was converted into a museum.
Fifteen rooms recount the history of La Ciotat and the Provence region through film, petanque, fishing, the sea and scenes of everyday Provençal life.
The openwork belfry on top of the building is stunning.

Shopping in La Ciotat, a hub of local designers

Continue onwards to the Old Port to admire the view of magnificent yachts and traditional boats on the water. The area around the port with its narrow lanes and old doors is vibrant thanks to the boutiques and souvenir shops which are sure to tempt you in.

Lunch in the Old Port at L'Escalet

L'Escalet Vieux Port 21 quai François Mitterrand 13600 La Ciotat

It's midday already so take a well-deserved break at one of the little restaurants around the port, for example L’Escalet, recommended by Tables 13. Championing fresh, local and seasonal ingredients, the chef will 'tickle your taste buds' with his wood-fired fish and meats revisited 'Escalet' style. The daily specials are excellent value for money.

  • Tables 13

Ile Verte, a green oasis in turquoise waters

L'Ile Verte

Kick off the afternoon by sailing out to Ile Verte, the only leafy island in the region. This islet just 400 metres from the coast and part of the Cap Canaille site is unspoilt and replete with relics from the past. Take a relaxing walk through nature along the cliff face or head up to the highest point where you'll find Fort Saint-Pierre which affords clear views of La Ciotat and the Bec de l'Aigle. Snorkelling fans, don't forget to take your equipment with you, the water around the island is teeming with marine life!

Parc du Mugel, resplendent and relaxing

Parc Naturel du Mugel Calanque du Mugel Avenue Des Calanques 13600 La Ciotat

Back on dry land, head to the magnificent Le Mugel Botanical Park which looks and smells wonderful. Take a stroll around the exotic garden and then breathe in the rich mix of fragrances in the aromatic garden. See plants, trees and rare species spread over 12 hectares. If you follow the steep path carved into the rock face, you'll come to a belvedere at 82 metres altitude which affords breath-taking views of the sea and the cliffs.

Figuerolles Cove

Anse de Figuerolles

Conclude your day by catching a magical sunset over the colourful rocks at Anse de Figuerolles. To get there coming from La Ciotat's town centre, simply follow the quays in the Old Port, pass Avenue des Calanques then take Avenue de Figuerolles. There's a set of stairs that lead to a restaurant half-way down and then the calanque itself. The view from the beach is wonderful.

Can't-miss experiences

  • Exploring the calanques (creeks) from the water in a kayak or on a stand-up paddleboard
  • Feeling like you've got the world to yourself at the Bec de l’Aigle, a natural relief carved into the red puddingstone in La Ciotat
  • Cruising the roads around Cap Canaille and watching the horizon from the Soubeyran sea cliffs (the highest in Europe)

We love

  • Stopping for a breather in the very picturesque Parc du Mugel
  • Wandering around La Ciotat's old port with its beautiful 17th century houses

The best time to visit

  • Wednesday morning to take a guided tour of the town by a storyteller from Provence
  • July-August to browse the night market at La Ciotat's Old Port (8 pm to 1 am)
  • Early December to fill up your sack at the Christmas market and village on Esplanade du 8 mai 1945
  • Theme

    Culture, Family

  • Duration

    1 day

  • Transport means

    On foot

  • Visited cities

    La Ciotat

  • Ideal for

    All year round

Discover other itineraries

3 trips in 1, marseille, provence, camargue

Before or after your cruise, make the most of your departure from (or arrival into) Marseille to explore the region over a couple of days. Marseille will show you its many faces, its sea, its ancient heritage and its new museums like the MuCEM. Aix-en-Provence, Aubagne and Les Baux-de-Provence will introduce you to the heart and soul of Provence though its old stone houses, vineyards and olive groves. Last but by no means least, Arles and Camargue will whisk you to a dramatic change of scenery just a few kilometres from Marseille's cruise terminal. Marseille, Provence and Camargue, the promise of three trips in one!

Essential Salon-de-Provence, a soap opera

This is a simple itinerary designed to stimulate your senses. The first stops on the tour are the Marius Fabre and Rampal Latour soap factories, two Provençal institutions. Salon-de-Provence was also the one-time home of Nostradamus, the famous seer and now the name of an excellent chocolate makers in the town. At Château de l’Empéri, history buffs will get a thrill brushing their hands over ancient stones. Lastly, after a fancy lunch at Mas du Soleil, it's onwards to Au Clair des Fontaines for a little refreshment. Follow the guide!

The seven wonders of the Bouches-du-Rhône

This tour showcases seven wonders around the Bouches-du-Rhône, easily covered in just half a day if you're riding in a helicopter or – and this is our personal recommendation – staggered over several days during your next trip to Provence! Starting in the north of the department, make your way slowly but surely down to Marseille. The first wonder is Les Baux-de-Provence, one of the prettiest villages in France. Then travel back in time at the Arles Amphitheatre before you are completely wowed by the Camargue countryside. Like Cézanne, you'll be enchanted by the sight of Mount Saint-Victoire before you head for a stroll along Cours Mirabeau, the main boulevard in the centre of Aix-en-Provence. End with a flourish in Marseille where its Old Port and calanques, those stunning natural creeks, are protected world heritage sites.

Inspirations

The MEDITERRANEAN SEA

The MEDITERRANEAN SEA

Lifestyle

When we talk about the South of France, what's the first thing we think of? The MEDITERRANEAN SEA! (and the sun of course – it's all part of the package).

Fashion

Fashion

Lifestyle

Provence "à la mode"

The Three Kings Cake

The Three Kings Cake

Tradition

Epiphany in Provence is like nowhere else!

Squash

Squash

The Gourmet's New Eldorado

It had all but disappeared from the markets, but then – perhaps as a result of Halloween arriving in France – squash made a big comeback on our stalls just over a decade ago