© Nico Gomez

Port Grimaud details

All great projects have their own little quirks and details. The coastal town is a feast for the eyes, with its vibrant colors, canals and architecture that is unique in France. Explore the details that François Spoerry left for you to discover in Port Grimaud.

 

Trompe-l'œil

in Port Grimaud

François Spoerry decorated a number of facades with playful frescos. The most prominent is a Provençal lady keeping an eye on activities at the market square. Will you spot them all?

The pillars

OPPOSITE THE ARCADE

On the bridge between the Place des Artisans and the Place du Marché, you can see the most photographed scene in Port Grimaud and it’s easy to see why! These superb cast iron pillars supporting the balconies on the upper level make us feel like we could be in certain parts of Venice or even New Orleans. Opposite, there is a stunning row of arcades.

The little extra

Have a meal by the canal for a memorable experience.

GETTING AROUND

using solar energy

Apart from selected residents, cars are not allowed in the coastal town. To get around, residents take water taxi boats that are powered by solar energy.

Visitors can also use these on specific routes (for a fee). You can also hire individual electric boats and be the captain of the Port Grimaud canals for a brief time.

Tour des célibataires

‘Singles people Tower’ : this imposing tower greets you when you arrive in Port Grimaud, looking for all the world like a rampart and making you wonder whether The Little Venice of Provence is actually an ancient fortified city. Of course this isn’t the case, as Port Grimaud only dates back to 1966.

To know

This tower bears this curious name because it was designed to house seasonal workers in the summer season.

The Church of Saint-Francis of Assisi

Vasarely’s stained-glass windows

The Church of Saint-François d’Assise is simple, understated and inspired by the church at Les Saintes-Maries de la Mer (further along the south coast of France). Inside, you can admire the magnificent stained-glass windows created by Victor Vasarely, a Hungarian artist who later obtained French citizenship.

He is considered to be the father of optical art and a most notable example of his work was the Renault logo (Car french brand). The Port Grimaud church project, consisting of 25 stained-glass windows, reflects the movement of the sun as the day progresses. So the light will appear differently throughout the day.

The remarkable

staircase

As you head towards the Place du 14 June from the Place des Six Canons, you will see an incredible iron staircase that provides access to the apartments on two levels.

François Spoerry’s house

After (or rather during) the successful creation of Port Grimaud, François Spoerry couldn’t imagine living anywhere else and built himself a house in the town. In a similar ‘fortified’ style to the Tour des Célibataires and the church, the architect’s residence really makes its presence felt.

He pushed the boat out with an enormous living room and full-height fireplace, as well as a swimming pool that is half inside, half outside.

Mosaic

containing thousands of pebbles

One of the best-kept hidden gems in Port Grimaud. This pebble alleyway can be found underneath the covered shopping arcade in the Place du Marché (on the left). The designs represent the trading that used to take place there. Around 200,000 pebbles were used in this creation.

Place François Spoerry

The Magistrale Fountain

This stunning fountain is located in Port Grimaud 2 (south) in Place François Spoerry. It is decorated with ceramic tiling showing floral motifs. It follows the contours of a staircase with an overhanging terrace at the top, both of which are edged with ornate cast iron railings and lamp posts.

The wooden bridge

Port Grimaud has a total of 14 bridges giving access to 12 islands, as designed by François Spoerry. One of these bridges is a bit special: it’s made of wood and is for pedestrians only.

The original model

of Port Grimaud

François Spoerry created a scale model to showcase his project. He used the Salon Nautique (boat show) in Cannes in 1968 – the first boat show in the autumn – to tempt boating enthusiasts and investors alike.

Because of his grand vision, and to make the model even more realistic, he even filled the canals with water. However, the model was not watertight and it flooded the neighbouring stands! This didn’t stop the Prime Minister of the time, Georges Pompidou, from being impressed by the project.

The model can be seen today at the Tourist Information Office in Port Grimaud, open in high season from April to September.

François Spoerry’s tomb

The building project was launched in 1966, but the final phase of construction only started in 2006. Unfortunately, the father of Port Grimaud didn’t get to see the completion of the works.

François Spoerry died on 11 January 1999, aged 86. Naturally, he was very proud of his project and he wished to be buried within the Church of Saint-François d’Assise. His wishes were carried out. You can see this inspiring architect’s tomb inside the church.

Bell tower and

panoramic terrace

It’s possible to see this network of islands and canals from above. The church houses a spiral staircase with 78 steps that lead you up to the terrace for a breathtaking panoramic view. Access to the terrace costs €1. The admission fee helps to maintain the church.

Fishing boat

Heading towards the Place des Six Canons, you will find the genuine fishing boat. If it’s not moored at the quay, it’s likely to be out at sea. What’s the catch of the day?