I was preparing a post about Marseille during my visit there, when I got surprised by a fact that I have been mistaken almost my whole holidays – Marseille is not part of Côte d’Azur!
All the signs were directing me to believe that most of the southern part of French coastline is called Côte d’Azur (French Riviera in English). First of all, the color of the sea in Marseille is a beautiful turquoise and it cannot be mistaken with any other color. Some parts are deeply blue but they mix with the green bottom and create a clear tone to define – the one we call the color of the sea. Secondly, the city is full of tourists from all around the world coming not only to visit the city but also to enjoy the seacoast. Moreover, I have visited many cities around which are apparently part of Côte d’Azur. This made me to wonder – where does the French Riviera end?
First things first – why is any part of France called Côte d’Azur?
The Medditereanean corner of southeast coastline of France is called Côte d’Azur since 1887 when Stéphen Liégeard published his book with this title. He came from Dijon, a part of France in region la Côte-d’Or (recently the names of regions in France have changed) so the name is quite similar to his oryginal area. He spent the whole winter in Cannes and having the beautiful colors of the sea in front of his eyes, made him to give a name to the turquoise colors of the water. Apparently the name took root and got popular among French already in XIX century and it stayed 🙂
Where does the French Riviera end?
There is no official boundary but it is considered to extend from the Italian Riviera (Italian- French border) till Saint Tropez or till Cassis. Well, it is quite a difference in which city it ends since Saint Tropez is 111 km from Cassis (small city 25 km from Marseille). When you check the map, the seaside extended from Italy till Saint Tropez is called Côte d’Azur and all the rest of south France it’s just southern France (according to the maps). Since there is no official end of the French Riviera, considering the color of the sea on south France, many say that the famous Côte d’Azur finishes right before Marseille, in the city Cassis.
I am in Marseille, can I visit Côte d’Azur?
Yes. The small city Casiss as well as all cities towards the eastern part of the coastline are considered by many as Côte d’Azur. I have visited Cassis and La Ciotat (much bigger and cheaper than the first one) and there are just 30 km from Marseille so, if you have a car, you can get there very fast. There are also busses going from Marseille to many places around.