The second water that borders the Venice of Provence is the Etang de Berre. With its 15,500 ha, this second largest saltwater basin in Europe (the first being in Spain) is still too little known despite the richness of its cultural and natural heritage
Don't miss this
Unique boat trip on the Etang de Berre!
Like most of our visits, the latter departs from the Martigues quay of honor. After sailing for a few minutes on the various Martégaux canals that link the sea to the pond, and leaving the lift bridge behind you, the boat will set sail and the captain will begin his presentation.
Each step of the ride has
its past, its secrets and its legends.
To begin with, a historical introduction to this astonishing body of water is needed to truly appreciate its uniqueness. The pond, as you will see when you visit, has been around for almost 7,000 years. The modification of its roles over the millennia and the adaptation of the Men living on its edges are truly fascinating!
Raising goats and sheep on its shores; through fishing, the techniques of which had to be adapted to a new environment; to the exploitation of stones from its limestone hills and saltworks - where the salt had a white gold value -; to end with the installation of industries on its edges, the Berre pond is living proof of the historical and cultural evolution of mankind.
For more details, listen carefully during the visit because the history of this basin holds no secrets for the captain!
Floristic and faunistic biodiversity
Once off the pond, you will notice a variety of spectacular natural sites. Indeed, this walk offers a breathtaking view of the lagoons, beaches, limestone hills or even the pine forests that surround this territory.
But this diversity of landscapes does not stop at the surface! Indeed, with its nine meters depth, it is an extraordinary ecosystem that will be found under your boat. Thus, as in most Mediterranean lagoons, there are many fish such as wolves, eels, sea bream, sole, sardines or even mullets (whose eggs are used for the production of our martégale specialty called bottarga). in the pond of Berre. To find out about other local productions that will delight your taste buds, do not hesitate to read our article on good local tips and good addresses.
In addition, the influence of water arriving from the Mediterranean through the artificial channel of Caronte has allowed the development of an underwater garden, comparable to a small treasure of marine life, where are hidden shrimps, sea urchins, seahorses or anemones, to the delight of photography enthusiasts!
Boating, hiking, fishing and swimming:
Activities that will please everyone!
The boat trip on the Etang de Berre will allow you to observe all the nooks and crannies of this picturesque territory. However, our inland sea offers many more activities ! The captain of the boat will certainly mention the magnificent 130 hectare Grand Parc de Figuerolles which is a must for us during your stay in Martigues. In Figuerolles, you will find an educational farm, a tree climbing course, trampolines, hiking and mountain biking trails, and even pony rides! It is a park with a rich natural heritage whose secrets can be discovered with the family through a fun hike offered by the Martigues Tourist Office.
In view of the variety of fish present in the water, it would be a shame not to learn about fishing, an activity deeply rooted in Provençal traditions. The captain of the boat will explain to you that it is possible to practice recreational fishing in the pond, just as our ancestors did ... Do not hesitate to discover this activity alongside our various providers who offer introductions to fishing!
As you navigate the waters of the pond, you will most likely have the opportunity to see other boats! Indeed, the nautical activities are numerous there: windsurfing, catamaran, paddle, kayak or even jet-ski. On board the boat, you will pass by numerous yacht clubs. In the department, the pond represents ¼ of the offer in terms of nautical activities - a real economic boost for the area!
Finally, you will be surprised to learn that thanks to the “Terre de Jeux 2024” label awarded to the city of Martigues (and Marignane), the Etang de Berre will become a training ground for athletes from all over the world wishing to compete. prepare for the sailing events of the Olympic Games, and that will take place at the Martigues sailing circle!
To conclude on the nautical activities, at the end of the walk, do not hesitate to walk along the port of Ferrières to arrive at its small beach and dive into the pond! Certified "Bathing waters", the beach is an excellent idea for relaxing after a day of sightseeing, without forgetting to enjoy a good meal in the huts with a view of this inland sea which has no secrets for you!
An exceptional territory surrounded
cities with a strong identity
During your walk, you will notice that the shores of the pond have retained a natural character with the shades of green of the hills. However, along this 75 km coastal border, towns and villages will also be revealed before your eyes. Indeed, Martigues, Saint-Miter-les-Remparts, Istres, Miramas, Saint-Chamas, Berre-l'Etang, Rognac, Vitrolles, Marignane and Châteauneuf-les-Martigues surround this expanse of water. Knowing the history of the pond, the coasts, the hills and each town would take a day, which is why this visit mainly focuses on the borders between Martigues and Saint-Chamas.
Once on the boat, the captain will tell you sometimes crazy stories. So stay tuned so as not to miss the legends of the three IS, the fairy path or the Coulobre!
Regarding Martigues, nicknamed the Venice of Provence: all its ports, monuments, traditions and unmissable places are to be discovered during the fantastic boat tour of the city's canals.
A past left behind, in favor of a future
During the visit, the captain will explain to you the various pollution factors in the Etang de Berre, which several organizations are fighting against in order to minimize their discharges. On board the boat, some of these refineries will be visible. It will be very interesting to learn more about the consequences of industrialization on flora and fauna, but also on the salinity of water; two elements which were strongly impacted.
However, many measures were taken as early as the 1970s. Since then, we have seen a 98% reduction in discharges to the pond. It is thanks to these guidelines that today we can once again fish and swim in the "Mer de Berre". The protection of this rich natural environment has thus become a real priority.
When you enjoy this beautiful walk, keep in mind that the Etang de Berre is a candidate for UNESCO World Heritage!
We are convinced that the sight and the content of this visit will convince all participants.
So, if you are thirsty to learn more about the Estang de Berro (Étang de Berre in Provençal Occitan), don't hesitate and book your seats!