Bouches-du-Rhône (13140) Population: 21,602 Altitude: 49 m
The main town of Miramas is a big, busy place, full of shops and not very picturesque. There are plenty of hotels, restaurants and shops and stores of all kinds here. This "new town" was developed on the plains below the perched village in 1837. Market day Daily.
The pretty part is the vieille ville (old town), perched on a hilltop 3 km to southeast (towards Saint-Chamas). You'll have a pretty view of the old village sitting above the Etang de Berre [top photo] from the coastal road along the étang coming north from Istres.
The old village is very well restored, with everything in the native orange-yellow stone. Except for being cute and picturesque, there's not much there other than the outstanding view, although a couple of terrace cafés make a great place to rest while taking in the view. There are also some restaurants, but no boutiques.
History of Miramas
First record, 12th century Miramas is mentioned in unofficial writings from the year 964.
Prehistoric: Prehistoric habitation on the rocky hilltop where Miramas-le-Vieux now stands probably dates back to about 2000 BC. Pottery and other artifacts from the 5th-century BC have been unearthed.
Gallo-Roman: During the Roman period a small port was located on the Etang de Berre beside the current old village.
Medieval: Miramas was ruled successively by the Vicomtes de Marseille, the Moines de St-Victor and the Abbaye de Montmajour, who ruled until the Revolution. In 1590, the troops of Charles de Savoie captured and dismantled the 12th century chateau and sacked the village.
Market day: Daily.
June (3rd weekend) - Fête de la Saint-Jean
July (Last weekend) - Fêtes Votives
Aug (Last weekend) - Fête Médiévale - Medieval Festival, multi-epoques, and artisanal market
• GPS: 43.579876, 5.003272
IGN (1/25,000) #3144 ouest "Martigues, Etang de Berre"
IGN Verte (1/100,000) #66 "Avignon, Montpellier"; #67 Marseille, Carpentras
There are some forestry roads and trails in the hills east of town, from below Cornillon-Confoux and past Lançon-Provence to the autoroute.
We had lunch in Le Varley, a hotel-restaurant on the ave Charles de Gaulle by the railway underpass. The old dining room was nicely decorated and had a good ambience -- table cloths, but casual is OK -- and excellent, friendly service.
Typical Provençal and Camarguaise fare included Moules Provencal, Pavé de Saumon Sauce Oseille and Daube de Taureau. From the good choice of regional wines, we tried the Tours de Calissane, an AOC Coteaux d'Aix-en-Provence from Lançon-Provence -- Great!
Miramas is a main stop on the Marseilles-Paris rail line, so the town serves as the transportation center for the nearby villages. The main-line stops include: Marseilles, Miramas, Arles, Tarascon-sur-Rhône, Nimes, Clermont-Ferrand, Paris.
A regional train service (TER) runs between Miramas and Marseilles-St-Charles, including: St-Chamas, Berre, Rognac, Vitrolles, Pas-des-Lanciers, Istres, Rassuen, Fos-sur-Mer, Port-de-Bouc, Crois-Sainte Martigues, Ponteau-st-Pierre, La Couronne, Sausset-le-Pins, Carry-le-Rouet, La Redonne-Ensuès, Niolon, L'Estaque, Séon-St-Henry, St-Louis-les-Aygalades, Le Canet, St-Barthélemy.
The bus depot for both the local town lines and the rural lines is located at the train station. A Regional bus line serves: Marseilles, Aix-en-Provence, Saint Cannat, Lambesc, Pélissanne, Salon-de-Provence, Miramas, Istres, Fos-sur-Mer, Port de Bouc, Croix Sainte, Martigues.
Department 13, Bouches-du-Rhône Buses
- See Beyond's Bouches-du-Rhone (13) Bus Schedules for downloading Bouches-du-Rhone bus-lines map and bus-line schedules [pdf for each line] (link for PDF files).