The Chapel of Port Frioul
This Christian chapel was built in the 19th century by Michel Robert Penchaud. An architect who also designed the Caroline Hospital, a major building on Ratonneau Island. It resembles an ancient temple that pays homage to the 2,600-year history of the city of Marseille. The chapel, which overlooks the present-day port, enabled the crews of quarantined ships to attend religious services without setting foot on land.
Rhinoceros bookcase © Magali Louis
The association Art Book Collectif, ABC, has set up a number of terminals to enable residents and visitors to exchange books. Here the shape is that of a rhinoceros, a specimen of which landed on the island of the Château d'If in 1516. The animal was a gift from the King of Portugal, Emmanuel the Magnificent, for Pope Leo X. It was the first time that such a wild beast had arrived in Marseille and Europe. The work is by sculptor and ironworker Magali Louis, created in marine stainless steel to withstand the sea air of Frioul, and has been on the island since 2011.
The Berry dam
In 1820, an epidemic of yellow fever broke out in Spain. At the time, memories of the ravages of the plague in Marseille 100 years earlier were still very fresh. Faced with such epidemics, the ancient port of quarantine, which was located on the island of Pomègues in a small natural cove, no longer offered sufficient protection. It was therefore decided to build a breakwater to link the islands of Pomègues and Ratonneau in 1822 to create a larger space for storing foreign ships.
A few figures:
The site employed 600 workers, 2 bascule bridges, countless carts, horses and boats to transport more than 515,000 tonnes of rock needed to fill the strait between the two islands.
Length: 315 metres; average width 92 metres at the base and 33 metres above the sea; elevation 7 metres above the water. On the Pomègues side, there are 56 cylindrical mooring bollards.
Calanque du Cap Frioul
There are several possible explanations for this wall:
It could have been used to hold back the soil and protect the vegetation from the strong Mistral wind. And so allow the plants to grow in a sheltered spot.
Another possibility is that it was built by the military to prevent a landing in the cove.
Port of Pomègues, former harbour master's office
Until the construction of the Berry dike, the port of Pomègues was the natural sheltered area used to receive ships. It was here that they had to anchor for a quarantine period. It is dominated by the Pomèguet tower. Today, the calanque is home to an aquaculture farm and is also a popular anchorage for Marseille yachtsmen.
This tower was built between 1859 and 1860. It is a guard post dating from the 19th century. From the tower, the military could control the route between the cove of Pomègues, which housed the quarantine port, and the fort of Pomègues. From this high point, it was also easy to keep an eye on the many coves and creeks in the same area. Medieval in appearance, the tower is protected from artillery fire by a moat and a rampart. It could house 40 men at a time. There were plans to build more than 300 along the French borders, but the development of rifled artillery brought the project to a halt in 1862. Having become useless, the tower was abandoned, but it remains in a perfect state of preservation. It cannot be visited.
Calanque de l’Huile
The explanation for the name of this cove is linked to the expression "a sea of oil". When sailors use this metaphor to describe the water, it means that the sea is very calm, with no waves. The calanque is therefore an excellent shelter for stopping by boat, even on windy days.
Sentier des astragales
On this trail you can discover a plant nicknamed "mother-in-law's cushion". It generally grows in a circular shape and is a model of adaptation. It is resistant to strong winds such as the mistral, which blows regularly in Marseille, to salt spray and to the aridity of the climate. It flowers in spring. In summer, it loses the green part of its leaves to protect itself as much as possible from the powerful rays of the sun, and is transformed into a thorny bush. Astragalus only grows in Marseille, which is why its conservation is so important.
View of the fish farm
The "Provence Aquaculture" aquaculture farm has been located in the cove of the former quarantine port since 1989. The farm raises organic sea bass.
German observation point (at the end of a zigzag path)
This is a trench built by the German occupiers during the Second World War to provide access to a discreet observation point overlooking the cove of the former quarantine port. The zig-zag construction protects the soldier from possible fire, which, if the trench were in a straight line, could spread from the bottom of the trench and hit him. The successive corners of the access path serve as protection.
Semaphore of Pomègues
A semaphore is a lookout used to warn of invasions and signal the arrival of ships. It was in the 19th century, on the orders of Napoleon III, that a veritable network of semaphore stations was set up along the coast. This semaphore was built between 1906 and 1908 and dominates the whole of Marseille harbour. It was used for civilian and military surveillance. When it was in operation, its staff of specialised lookouts were employed by the French Navy. Previously, the semaphore was located at the end of the island of Pomègues, at the heart of the Cavaux battery. It was decommissioned in 2000 and now houses a regional association, the CEN: Conservatoire d'Espaces Naturels de PACA.
German battery at Cap Caveaux
From the 19th century onwards, the systematic use of rifled cannon in armed conflicts undeniably transformed the Caveaux plateau. This area at the tip of the island became a key strategic position in the archipelago.
Explanation of the rifled cannon: This is a weapon with a grooved barrel. These grooves cause the shell to rotate on itself, around its longitudinal axis, giving it greater aerodynamic stability and more accurate fire.
From 1878 onwards, the French engineers built a battery of three guns here, which were later joined by three more batteries.
French reinforced concrete of mediocre quality
Here we are faced with French buildings dating from 1910, whose concrete has not aged well. It is gradually disintegrating and taking on the appearance of layers, like a mille feuilles.
Saddle of an exploded German cannon
The base of the cannon was moved and projected to this location by an explosion. You can imagine the power of the explosion.
Gull nest on the path
In Marseilles, and particularly here on the Frioul islands, you'll find gabians, meaning the Yellow-legged Gull, a large, robust seabird that lives on the coast. It is easily recognisable by its yellow legs and beak, marked with a red dot. It weighs up to one kilo and has a wingspan of over one and a half metres.
The islands of Marseille are home to more than 20,000 pairs, making it the largest colony in France. Between March and July, the females lay several eggs in nests on the ground. Often right next to footpaths. You have to walk with a keen eye to find the eggs, then later in the season, the chicks. Both are speckled and easily blend in with the vegetation and limestone rocks. The Caveaux battery is their kingdom. So be careful, because the parent birds are capable of virulent intimidation flights to chase away the ill-intentioned hiker.
The Yellow-legged Gull is an opportunistic predator with the attitude of a true scavenger. It eats everything, and the former open-air refuse dumps were responsible for its excessive proliferation. This has even unbalanced the biodiversity of the islands. To contain its development, associations regularly carry out egg sterilisation operations, which are more effective than destruction or confiscation. The bird is not fooled, and if the eggs are destroyed, it will lay replacement eggs. The technique involves spraying a vegetable oil on the shell to seal its pores and block incubation. The gull parents continue to incubate their eggs, but to no avail.
Morphosé means acclimatised. The Frioul islands are particularly exposed to the two prevailing winds. The Mistral, which blows from the north and north-west and always brings fine weather, and the east and south-east winds, which bring rain. This olive tree is a fine example of how vegetation is able to adapt to the harshness of the elements and, in this case, the wind. It crawls along the rock face behind which it shelters. Its branches have grown in the direction of the south-easterly wind.
Calanque des Cambrettes
When, on your left, you see a small ruined house nestling against the cliff, once used by the soldiers in charge of the Pointe de Caveaux searchlight, you are overlooking the Calanque des Cambrettes. Its name refers to the image of "little rooms", cambreto in Provençal.
Between April and July, don't attempt to walk down the steep path towards the sea. The gulls, which nest everywhere, are formidable.
However, for yachtsmen and divers with small boats, this cove with its transparent turquoise waters is an excellent shelter on a mistral day for admiring the underwater fauna.
View of Pointe Marlet (island)
At Cap Caveaux, a rock stands out and seems to want to take to the open sea. This is Pointe Marlet, which is linked to the island of Pomègues by a thin rock bridge that is often submerged by the waves.