the blues and yellows of martigues
Auguste Renoir traveled to Martigues and painted. So did Raoul Dufy. Nicolas de Staël, as well. Others but less well-known went: Émile Loubon, Félix Ziem, Paul Camille Guigou, Charles Pellegrin, Edouard Ducros, Charles Henri Malfroy and Henry Malfroy, father and son, Antoine Ponchin, Francis Picabia.
I go to Martigues to take photographs. My efforts with watercolors should remain in the shadows.
I craft the day before I go. I want the light. The colors, blues and hues of yellow and some greens, are gorgeous around the ports and inside the village where the courts nap, always quiet, often vacant.
I go in the morning. I check the Météo in advance. I want a sunny clear day, otherwise I do not go. Martigues is an excellent place to take pictures, and I want the light. (Have I already emphasized that?) During mid-afternoon, it becomes ‘hazy,’ less defined, and the heat can become unfriendly and difficult, so I leave.
When I arrive, I cross the bridge with the solid blue railings and circle around the harbor, or I walk straight into the village. My favorite plaza is Place Mirabeau, a large, empty quiet space. I wonder, “Where are the people?” A café sits in the corner with a few tables and chairs. What I find astonishing are the bright colors like paint patches covering the walls. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)
Sometimes one comes across another quiet space, much smaller and subdued. The bright primary colors are not present. But the blues, so prominent, do make a difference. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)
Surprisingly, one finds the modern looking plaza as well. Again, it will have the sense of having been deserted. A spot of blue in the barrier, some green in the trees, and hues of yellow offer a sense of space without boldly proclaiming itself. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)
Bodies of water are every where. It is like Venice, some say. The solid blues on the boats and buildings and in the pristine water are startling. They shout. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)
Blues. Reds. Yellows. They dominate the colors in Martigues. They are often the most intense when one focusses on the doors and windows. The colors will be in the shutters and reflected in the glass of the windows. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)
To break up the primary colors, greens make an appearance, sometimes on the doors and shutters, but often in the trees and plants that are planted close by. They seem to grow out of the stone. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)
Going from Marseille to Martigues by bus is simple. I want the 10:15 bus, no later. Bus #34, the one you want, leaves from the bus terminal (from Quai 4 most likely) at the St Charles train station. You will need to buy the ticket from the bus driver. It will cost 7,50€ one way (2018 price), no discounts.
The trip will last about 30 to 35 minutes or longer if you are not on an express bus. Once you reach the Martigues limits, there will be some stops. Your stop will be at the Place des Aires, near the end of the route. There may be three more stops later. Getting off earlier than Places des Aires will mean a lengthy walk into Martigues.
Cross the road and you will see a small bridge with bright blue railings. This is where you start your day in Martigues. Before going any further, you could spot the bus stop nearby called Girondins. It is within spitting distance of the bridge with the blue railings. That is where you will stand to catch the bus back to Marseille.