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Marseilles (Municipality, France): Yacht clubs

Part 1: Vieux-Port, Quai de Rive-Neuve

Last modified: 2010-11-13 by ivan sache
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The Vieux-Port of Marseilles

The Vieux-Port (Old Port) of Marseilles is the historical port of the town and one of its main emblematic places, together 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 watched by the St. John and St. Nicholas forts. It is more or less the place where the colonists from Asia Minor landed c. 600 BP. In the Middle Ages, the marshes located at the end of the port were drained and grown with hemp, a hemp field being called in French chènevière, from chanvre, "hemp". Once spun to make rigging, hemp disappeared long ago from Marseilles but the street linking the Vieux-Port to the center of the town has kept the name of Canebière.
The Vieux-Port remained the center of the maritime activity in Marseilles until the 19th 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 and cruise 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 biggest clubs, such as the CNTL and the SNM, have huge floating clubhouses with restaurants, lounges and several other facilities, whereas the smaller 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 galleys' arsenal was built.

Ivan Sache, 13 December 2003

Société Nautique de Marseille (SNM)

[Flag of the SNM]        [Burgee of the SNM]

Flag and burgee of SNM - Images by Ivan Sache, 31 March 2003

Société Nautique de Marseille (SNM), nicknamed la Nautique, is the oldest yacht club still active in Marseilles and the second oldest yacht club still active in France, the oldest one being <>Sociétés des Régates du Havre. Founded on 12 February 1887 by secession from Société des Régates de Marseille, itself founded in 1861, SNM was state-approved by Decree on 2 March 1932.
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.
SNM membership is currently over 500, with more than 300 sailing and motor boats registered.
SNM organizes several races, including:
- Semaine Nautique Internationale de la Méditerranée (SNIM - Mediterranean International Sailing Week), which features more than 200 sailing boats every year during Easter week;
- Vire-à-Vire, a festival rather than a race, which features more than 200 local and motor boats on the first Sunday of October.

Source: SNM website

The flag of SNM, as hoisted over the floating club house, is horizontally divided red-white-red with a blue off-centred cross in the white stripe and a white star tilted to the canton placed in canton. The blue cross recalls the municipal banner of arms of Marseilles.
The burgee of SNM, as seen on the boats moored near the club house, is a triangular version of the flag. The burgee of 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 centred blue cross and red stripes extending more than geometrically possible. Second, the star is not tilted.

Ivan Sache, 31 March 2003

Club Nautique et Touristique du Lacydon (CNTL)

[CNT Lacydon]

Burgee of CNTL - Image by Ivan Sache, 8 May 2003

Club Nautique et Touristique du Lacydon (CNTL), founded on 20 January 1970 by Roger Corvi, Claude Galli and Henri Porta, 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 CNTL is white with a blue border and the blue logo of the yacht club placed near the hoist.

Ivan Sache, 8 May 2003

Union Nautique Marseillaise (UNM)

[UN Marseillaise]

Burgee of UNM - Image by Ivan Sache, 5 July 2003

Union Nautique Marseillaise (UNM), founded in 1882, is the oldest yacht club in Marseilles.
The burgee of 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 (CRC)

[CR Catalans]

Burgee of CRC - Image by Ivan Sache, 13 December 2003

The word raceurs, no longer in use today, is derived from the English word "racers". The borough near the entrance of the Vieux-Port is called the Catalans' borough, famous for the beach of the same name (plage des Catalans).
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 (Family Compact) in 1761, 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 Compact") with the grain merchants to increase the price of grain.
One of the articles of the Family Compact 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 cove, which was rapidly renamed the Catalans' cove (anse des Catalans), where they 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. Évocation du Vieux Marseille. Éditions de Minuit, Paris, 1961.

The burgee of CRC is horizontally divided red-blue.

Ivan Sache, 13 December 2003

Association des Plaisanciers du Vieux Port (APVP)

[AP Vieux-Port]

Burgee of APVP - Image by Ivan Sache, 13 December 2003

A plaisancier is an amateur yachtman, a port de plaisance being a marina, as opposed to a port de commerce.
The burgee of 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 (SNPP)

[SN Pecheurs Piadiers]

Burgee of SNPP - Image by Ivan Sache, 13 December 2003

Marius Autran (1910-2007), a respected teacher, amateur fisher and local historian from La Seyne, a port located not far from Marseilles, has written several books dedictated to the history of his town. In Images de la vie seynoise d'antan - Tome VI (1997), Autran describes a home-made fishing tool used by shore fishers, called zigou-zigou. The tool is made of a long staff with a piece of fishing line c. 20 cm in length; the line is fit with a hook called musclaou, bearing a bait, usually a shrimp, a worm or a piade. Beforehand grilling the bait significantly increases the probability of catching a scorpion fish (rascasse) deeply hidden in rock cracks. The rascasse is a main component of the local fish soup called bouillabaisse.
Piade is the local name of the hermit crab (in French, bernard l'hermite), a small decapod crustacean living in a second hand shell. In his glossary of local fishery, Autran further defines a piadier as a creel used to bait hermit craps, using fish guts and heads as baits. A piadier fisher, therefore, most probably, lived from providing crabs as baits to other fishers.

The burgee of SNPP is white with a blue cross and the red letters "S", "N", "P" and "P" in the four quarters, respectively. The burgee is clearly based on the banner of arms of Marseilles.

Ivan Sache & Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 6 September 2008

Yacht Motor Club de Marseille (YCM)

[YMC Marseille]

Burgee of YCM - Image by Ivan Sache, 13 December 2003

The burgee of YCM is blue with a red disc.

Ivan Sache, 13 December 2003

Société Nautique Massalia (SNM)

[SN Massalia]

Burgee of SNM - Image by Ivan Sache, 13 December 2003

Massalia was the Greek name of Marseilles.
The burgee of 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 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 walls, and built the St. John and St. Nicholas forts with the cannons aimed at the town and not the sea.

Ivan Sache, 13 December 2003

Syndicat Libre des Pêcheurs Professionnels de Rive Neuve (SPCN)

[SLPP Rive Neuve]

Burgee of SPCN - Image by Ivan Sache, 13 December 2003

A syndicat libre is a local syndicate rather than a trade-union, both words being called in French syndicat.
The burgee of SPCN 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 meaning of the SPCN acronym.
The burgee is fairly similar in design to the burgee of Société Nautique Massalia. 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 secession from the other one.

Ivan Sache, 13 December 2003