Sunday, 1 May 2011

La Ciotat: The first moving picture show.

The arrival of a train at La Ciotat station - L'arrivee d'un train en gare a La Ciotat. 

Auguste and Louis Lumiere showed one of the first moving picture films to an astonished audience in La Ciotat in 1895. The short film showed the Toulon-Marseille train pulling into La Ciotat station. 

You can watch it here, it's only 56 seconds long. A very impressive film, considering when it was made, notice none of the real people in the film seem to take any notice of the fact they were being filmed!

A poster for a Lumiere brothers film.
The amazed spectators, never having seen anything like it before, reportedly jumped out of their seats as the train headed into them. The Eden theatre still stands on the seafront promenade. An exhibition of the story with displays, pictures and a film archive can be seen at L'Espace Lumiere. The station also celebrates its place in cinema history with film posters.

La Ciotat is also famous as the place where petanque came to be. Petanque is just a slight variation from the game of boules, from which it originated in 1907. Petanque is the southern French version of boules and involves less walking between moves to avoid exhaustion in the hot Mediterannean sun.

La Ciotat.
A port has existed in La Ciotat since the time of the ancient Greeks and shipbuilding has always been an important industry. Although the building of ships and boats is a much smaller affair today than it once was, huge cranes used in the industry still tower over the town. 

In the charming old port fisherman sell the day's catch and cafe tables spill out onto the pavements. The Musee Ciotaden, overlooking the port, tells the town's maritime history.

The eagle's beak - Bec de l'aigle.

To the west of La Ciotat magnificent cliffs and hidden coves lead to the very pretty and well kept fishing village of Cassis.On top of the cliffs sits the Parc du Mugel, which is classified as a "remarkable garden of France" by the  French Government. Gardens have to meet certain criteria to be given this prestigious label.

The park has a tropical area, with palms, banana tress and other tropical plants and a nature preserve with Provencal species such as the native oak tree. A massive rock which looks like an eagle's beak and so is called "Le bec d'aigle" points out into the sea from the park.

To the east of La Ciotat are thin stretches of beaches leading to Les Leques, where you will find lots of cheap eateries, a pleasant seafront promenade and little shops selling all your seaside needs. 

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