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The Islands of Marseille


The Frioul island

The Frioul archipelago consists of four islands, of a total surface of 200 hectares, located at about 4 Kilometers off the coast of Marseille. The islands are one of the 111 neighborhoods of Marseille: they are located in the 7th district.
le Frioul attracts visitors to the beaches, swimming, fishing and hiking. But a complete discovery of the island would not be achieved without giving particular interest to the rare plants, its seabird colonies and its protected seabeds.

The Château d’If island

Off Marseille, you can discover The Château d’If, fortress built by François I, famously thanks to the Alexandre Dumas novel “Le Comte de Monte-Cristo”. The Château d’If is together with the Basilique Notre Dame de la Garde, the most prominent landmarks of the city of Marseille.
If one welcomes pilgrims, the other one hosts within its walls, spilled by shuttles, thousands of tourists from around the world. It must be noticed that the site is known throughout the world, since the novel of Alexandre Dumas was translated into almost every language. Without him, we admit, the island would have remained anonymous, like Fort Saint Jean.

The Château d’If is located on an islet of the archipelago of the Frioul. It is one of the most visited sites of Marseille. It is a square building of three floors measuring 28 meters on each side, flanked by three towers, pierced with large embrasures. The rest of the island, only 3 hectares wide, is heavily defended; high ramparts with gun platforms surmount the cliffs. It was classified historical monument on the 7th of July 1926. It was mainly used as prison for 400 years of official use.

The Riou island

Inaccessible from the sea side, it is a chaos of vertical rocks, and a landslide of ravins. From the Marseilleveyre massive side, the coast becomes softer and offers many possibilities of authorized access. The Calanque de Monasterio is the most visited. Near the beach, the only trees left on the island are the Tamarix.
From The Culatte pass, which rises to 100 meters, you can enjoy a magnificent view over the Calanques and the coast from the Camargue to La Ciotat. Several paths permit the exploration of this wild island, now unpopulated, but which was occupied from the early Neolithic by fishermen collecting shellfish.

On the top of Le Riou are the ruins of a watchtower, built in the 12th century and was used as an observation post in conjunction with the lookout of the summit of Marseilleveyre to prevent potential attacks from barbarians.
A short distance from Le Riou, two islets, known worldwide within the community of underwater archaeology passionates: Le Petit and Le Grand Conlongué

Jarre island

Facing the Marseilleveyre massive, it is with its neighbors, one of the largest anchorages in the Mediterranean seafor over 20 centuries. It was there that in 1720 was burnt and sunk “Le Grand Saint Antoinne”, a ship coming from Smyrna, loaded with precious fabrics, and brought the plague to Marseille

The island with its neighbors Pomègues and Ratonneau of Le Frioul archipelago, were the three places of quarantine for vessels wishing to land in Marseille.

Maïre island

Punctuating the southern end of the bay, Maïre island, ​​facing Cape Croisette, soars into the sky the edges of its limestone. Today, its access is prohibited, yet it was occupied in the Neolithic as revealed by excavations in 1903. Until about 1920, military and naval officers continued to ensure the maintenance of a photoelectric station.

During World War II, the german army assigned the italians to build on this strategic site fortifications including a turret that is still visible today.
Its coast including two twin rocks "the Farillons" have been the site of many shipwrecks since antiquity. At the foot of the island, the fantastic splendors of the underwater.

Planier island

Since the construction of the first lighthouse in the Middle ages to orientate sailors and signal arrival of pirates and barbary, Planier islet, 15 kilometers off the Vieux-Port, saw the building of five other successive lighthouses. Noble mission since it enlightens the largest port of the Mediterranean !

The current building dates from 1959. It is the highest building of the Mediterranean coast, its focal plane located at about 68 meters above high water mark. On this 3 hectares wide islet stands a superb column of Cassis stone which is used for only a few prestigious buildings in Marseille, the Palace of Justice, the Prefecture or the Palais Longchamp. It is a material that dates back 115 million years and has the remarkable property to capture the sun's rays and reject the night impurities so it remains a whiteness.
In 1992, the last keepers were forced to leave the lighthouse, because of its automation. Thus, in the words of Albert Londres (Marseille Porte du Sud): “An island two nautical miles off shore. Every night, we see it as it sweeps its light on the sea and the land. This lighthouse is illustrious over the world; it is called Le Planier. Whatever the time you watch it, you must think that it is talked about at this very moment on all the seas and under all the constellations. When we do not speak of it, we think of it. But if Le Planier guides back home, it also witnesses departures. Go to Marseille, youth of France, you will visit the lighthouse. It will show you a wide path that, undoubtedly, you will not expect, and maybe you will understand