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La Ciotat, just to the east of Marseille, is an excellent port, and in its bay, surrounded by pine clad hills, shelter can be found from all winds except those from the south.

From the sea, two things mark La Ciotat, the huge red cliff of Cap de l’Aigle at the western end of the bay, and the enormous Krupp gantry cranes which used to serve the former shipbuilding yard.

We have visited in Mitch, our Mitchell 31 Sea Angler, and last year in our sailing boat, Kadash. We have anchored off La Ciotat itself, and at La Madrague at the eastern part of the bay. La Madrague is a small holiday resort, and has an interesting walks, including a circular walk route centred on a historic vineyard.

We took Kadash into La Ciotat old port, and stayed there for several days while we worked on the boat. The former shipyard has found a new lease of life as an extremely busy superyacht repair facility. When we were in La Ciotat, there were probably twenty or thirty very large yachts in the yard or afloat alongside. The shipyard has a lift with a 4,300 tonne capacity, a drydock, and the shipyard gantry cranes can lift catamarans and other awkwardly shaped vessels.

Just behind our berth was the base for the iXblue surface drones, which are built in the shipyard. These drones, which are about 25’ long, provide stable platforms for sonars and other equipment, and I suspect that the La Ciotat bay has one of the most comprehensively surveyed seabeds in the world.

The picturesque town is a popular resort, and the streets are crowded in the season, with a huge number of restaurants in the pastel coloured buildings which surround the old port.

The Lumiere brothers, moving picture pioneers, had a holiday home in La Ciotat, and the worlds first cinema, the Eden Theatre, is situated close to the promenade.

The semi wild Jardin Mugel is a short walk from the old port, and from there a rewarding climb leads to the Belvédère du Mugel viewpoint near the top of Cap de l’Aigle.

La Ciotat is an ideal base for visiting the Calanques National Park, and I certainly recommend it to anyone visiting the coast of Provence.


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