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St.Blaise archaeological site, located 40 km north-west of Marseille on St.Mitre-les-remparts territory, is lying on top of a ridge and is overlooking four stretches of water called ‘ponds’ but actually the size of rather large lakes.
Just outside the park stands Saint Blaise Romanesque chapel. The site is protected by a fence and closed on Mondays but the entrance is free of charge. We are kindly greeted and given a fold-out page with a map. Here is a natural bunch of wild Ophrys orchids.
The archaeological site is a very ancient oppidum (antique and generally defensive settlement) that dates back as far as Etruscan and Phocean times (The Phoceans were the Greeks who founded Marseille toward 600 BC). The hellenistic wall, from the 2nd century BC, more than 1 km long and built in perfectly drafted large stones, is the site’s star turn.
Southwards, close to the site but outside the fence, an old necropolis is lying. We go for a small hike, heading southwards along the ridge. We have a look westwards at Lavalduc and Engrenier ponds, but from here it’s difficult to enjoy a fine view because of their industrial background.
East of the ridge, Pourra pond, the most photogenic and natural of this area’s lakes, is a refuge for some aquatic birds.
St.Mitre-les-remparts village overlooks Pourra pond. Here is now Citis pond.
We drive now to Martigues, a few km southwards. The town’s heart, like a small Venice, is built on the water, between Berre pond and the Caronte canal that links this large lake to the sea. Here are two small docks. The second, tiny, is called ‘Birds’ mirror’.
We are stubborn photographers and we would like to take this view from the A55 motorway viaduct. Since it’s neither possible to stop the car there nor to go on foot, the only way is to drive on the viaduct rather slowly northwards, the passenger taking several pics with a wide-angle lens, holding blindly the camera through the open window, high, above the railing. Here is a photomontage of two snapshots. If you’re tempted to do the same, choose a fine afternoon, or maybe a sunrise.
From ND.des Marins chapel (3 km North Martigues centre), fine views -albeit less gripping than those from the viaduct- stretch on the town site, Berre pond and the canal of Caronte to the Mediterranean. The viaduct with its two crutches is visible on the right (above, click to enlarge).
Here is Martigues ‘downtown’ and then Berre pond, now with a bit of zooming. Huberaime