A guide to all the places and activities for crew visiting La Ciotat and its shipyards

Superyachts bring huge benefits to the French economy and part of this trickle-down effect means it creates jobs and yacht crew spend their money locally. La Ciotat, located in the Bouches-du-Rhône department on the southern coast of France, is a preferred stopping off point for superyachts needing a refit, repair, and maintenance services.

Shipyards understand the importance of crew-friendly amenities – particularly in winter months – and are doing their best to make time off for crew more enjoyable during refit or repair projects with dedicated concierge services, gym facilities, crew lounges, and social events.

Rebecca Whitlocke spoke to local companies about the places and activities that should be on every crew members bucket list when they visit La Ciotat and its shipyards.

La Ciotat
La Ciotat Vieux Port.  Photo: Salva López for MB92 La Ciotat

About La Ciotat

La Ciotat has a great location with close proximity to Marseille and Toulon, and good connections to Saint-Tropez, Cannes, Antibes, Nice, and Monaco. City life is centered around the Vieux Port area with its restaurants, cafés and bars, and the shipyards of La Ciotat, a focal point for many maritime businesses.

La Ciotat is steeped in history – the Lumières Brothers made their first moving film there in 1895, the game of pétanque was invented there in the early 20th-century, and the city has a number of heritage buildings to visit such as the Eden Theatre (the world’s oldest surviving cinema), Ciotaden Museum or the 17th-century Notre Dame de la Garde Chapel with sailors ex-votos.

Nature-lovers or adrenaline addicts are equally at home with plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities: hiking the glorious Calanques shaped by erosion and the famous Mistral wind, water sports, rock climbing, walking La Voie Douce, or mountain biking.

Crew Activities in and near La Ciotat

Joanna Mucka Rubio works at Yachting Spirit and oversees yacht chandlery needs, crew uniforms, and provisioning from their base located at the Yachting Village inside the La Ciotat Shipyards. Joanna rounded up some suggestions from the Yachting Spirit team for captains and crew who want to experience the region like a local.

Here are their recommendations for activities, as well as suggested restaurants or bars when crew need the occasional night out:

La Ciotat
Route des Crêtes between La Ciotat and Cassis

• Explore the Calanques de Cassis such as Calanque de Port-Miou and Calanque d’en Vau
• The Bec de l’Aigle and Calanque du Mugel at La Ciotat
• L’île verte (Green Island)
• Route des Crêtes for panoramic views
• Take a trip to the village of Le Castellet, best known for having the racing circuit for the French Grand Prix.
• Rent a jetsurf, kayak or Seabob in La Ciotat : https://www.jetsurfmassilia.com/
• Visit Château La Coste’s wine estate near Aix-en-Provence with art and architecture tours, or Commanderie de Peyrassol which is a vineyard founded in the 13th-century by the Knights Templar
• Le Frégate Provence Golf Hotel and Spa is recommended for golf and spa days (it’s currently closed for renovation)
• The Red Lion pub at Pointe-Rouge in Marseille for live music and sports coverage and the English Breakfast at La Pêcherie located at Vieux Port in La Ciotat
• Crew adventures: https://www.laciotat-travelservices.com

The Yachting Spirit Team in La Ciotat
The Yachting Spirit Team in La Ciotat

Marie-Pauline Cassely is the Customer Care & Communications Manager at MB92 La Ciotat who offers dedicated refit facilities and workshops for refit and maintenance of the world’s prestigious superyachts. MB92 is accustomed to crew needs with another shipyard adjacent to Marina Port Vell in Barcelona.

MB92 La Ciotat organises an exciting calendar of events and activities for crew both on and off-season, and they recommended these things:

MB92 La Ciotat
MB92 La Ciotat. Photo: César Sebouhian
  • MB92 La Ciotat’s crew parties, crew gym, crew beauty salon
  • In La Ciotat, there are several Irish pubs, and amongst others: Chez Béné tapas restaurant on the port and Hemingway Wine Bar.
  • Browse the Sunday market
  • Parc du Mugel is a remarkable garden and nature reserve with native plants of Provence right behind the shipyard, including the Mugel rocks and beach. Calanque de Figuerolles is next to Mugel and a pleasant place to visit with a great restaurant, Chez Tania, where MB92 have hosted crew parties before
  • Cassis is worth exploring – it’s a touristy fishing town with nice cuisine and shopping. Don’t miss Les Roches Blanches Cassis: Hotel Restaurant and Spa, but be mindful it’s closed in winter
  • Sanary sur Mer is a nearby fishing town with a provencal Sunday market
  • Wine enthusiasts can sample wine tasting at Domaine de la Bégude or Domaines Bunan, or other vineyards in Bandol and Cassis (MB92 can arrange winery tours with their partner Etoile Transport)
  • Enjoy Yoga & Mindful movement classes with Laura-Kate & Pierrick.
  • Adventure enthusiasts can go climbing or do Via Ferrata
  • Spa Annamaya for spa and beauty treatments
MB92 team
MB92 La Ciotat. Photo: Cyril Chauvin

• Discover the coastal walks on the Sentier du Littoral between St Cyr sur Mer and Bandol
• Crew members love going to the rugby matches in Toulon Stadium. MB92 La Ciotat regularly takes them during tournaments.

Further Afield

• If you’ve got a crew car or rental car, you can’t go wrong with a detour to explore further afield. Highlights include karting at the renowned Paul Ricard Circuit at Le Castellet, exploring Marseille’s vibrant restaurants, brunch spots and shopping at Les Terrasses du Port, discovering the boutiques and restaurants of Aix-en-Provence or visiting the art exhibition at the Carrières des Lumières in Les Baux de Provence.

Rebecca Whitlocke, Founder of Antibes Yachting based on the Côte d’Azur, recommends:

Driving the Route des Crêtes that goes from La Ciotat to Cassis passing Cap Canaille and the Soubeyranes cliffs; the highest maritime cliffs in France (394 metres).

“The views are amazing and there are plenty of places to stop for a photo. Cassis is a lovely setting for a drink at the traditional fishing port and it’s more laid-back and authentic than Saint-Tropez.”

La Ciotat fishing port
Cassis. Photo: Antibes Yachting

“About 5 minutes drive from Cassis port, you can easily park and explore Calanque de Port-Miou with walking trails amongst pine trees. If you’re not pushed for time, it’s worth visiting Calanque de Sormiou located closer to Marseille with turquoise water set against the towering cliffs of the Calanques National Park – just be aware that in high season you can only get vehicle access down to the beach car park by booking a lunch reservation at Le Château restaurant.”

Calanque de Sormiou
Calanque de Sormiou. Photo: Antibes Yachting

La Ciotat is well-positioned to continue as a leading refit and maintenance hub for the Mediterranean and it’s proven there are plenty of places to see and things to do that appeal to locals and yacht crew alike.

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