Fabrice Garcia, Director of Technical Services for the port-town of Marseillan in the south of France, and professor of urban planning at the University of Montpellier, is a man bubbling with energy. He’s passionate about his profession – and invests himself totally in every project. It’s clear he loves this place – and gave me an hour of his time to take me through his plans for this dynamic port-town.
Repairs to, and pedestrianisation of, the port area.
The centre-piece of the plans for Marseillan is the sprucing up of the central port – a project progressing very much in tandem with the huge new La Baraquette luxury development underway on the edge of the town.
Because Marseillan is worth it
Fabrice’s technical department currently juggles 17 different work sites throughout the town, and his days regularly run from 7am to 11pm. So where does all of his energy come from?
Fabrice is clearly fuelled by his vision for each project, and the successful realisation of each one – he clearly finds planning and improving this town hugely satisfying. He gets a kick from knowing every day that the town is that little bit better than it was yesterday. Each site begins as chaos and slowly comes together, providing new amenities for the townspeople and a more charming environment for visitors. For Fabrice, the prize is the clear satisfaction felt by the town’s inhabitants, shopkeepers, small companies and tourists for the changes being made.
Four phases of work are transforming Marseillan into a more peaceful and chic place. Much of the work has been completed, and we’re now in the home stretch – the regeneration of the central port, set to be finished at the end of 2018. The future is approaching…
Marseillan town: a mix of elegant tradition and authentic luxury
Turning a small, quiet village into a high-end destination, whilst preserving its discrete charm and tradition, is a bold challenge. But it’s a challenge the Municipality of Marseillan are grasping with both hands. Green and open, the port of Marseillan of tomorrow will be designed around the pedestrian, introducing new and very stylish ‘urban furniture’ such as benches, lights and railings, and employing only the very best materials. New lighting will create a more romantic feel in the evening – with subtle lighting illuminating the dock. Flower baskets will be built into benches – adding colour and life to the environment.
Despite its gentle rhythm of life and the feel of a ‘real’ and ‘local’ town, the port of Marseillan is about to incorporate some ambitious ideas.
Whether its the ‘Porphyry’ stone paving, the re-levelling of the docks to minimise stairs, new pathways that alternate ‘bush grey’ with ‘Portuguese ivory’ colouring, or new and more modern exterior furniture, the project is clearly moving in a more contemporary direction. The high-quality of materials should also ensure a high-level of durability going forward. The choices being made are strategic as well as aesthetic – all aimed at creating a more modern, pleasing space that encourages ‘living well’ in Marseillan.
Propriétés & Co : modernising things without losing their soul
Nothing but magic is involved in the La Baraquette vineyard and spa resort, on the edge of Marseillan. Spearheaded by the developers Propriétés & Co, it is emerging from four years of technical studies, design work and in-depth discussions with everyone involved. The impact it will have on residents and shopkeepers is a key consideration for Miguel Espada, CEO or Propriétés & Co and Fabrice Garcia, as well as on tourists and future owners here. Its position, climbing up a hill with views across the oyster beds of the Etang de Thau, ensures anyone who buys here will be in a very privileged position indeed.
So who’ll be buying the luxury villas and apartments at La Baraquette? The developers expect a certain type of person – one who not only wants to invest or own a second home – but also who value a resort that is well-integrated into a living, breathing town, and who respect and value its traditions and authenticity.
Marseillan is about to become more beautiful
The lifting of the dock will have a huge effect on the look of the port, expanding the sense of space on both sides of the water. This will benefit both pedestrians and cyclists, but also the delivery men who keep the port’s shops and restaurants running.
Cyclists, pedestrians, vineyards, the lagoon – there’s so much to do and see around La Baraquette
Cycle paths have been a huge issue during the town’s renovation discussions – stretching from Marseillan port to ‘Marseillan Plage’ – the nearby beach ‘sister’ town. These will connect the 8,000 inhabitants of both towns, and help generate business for their 100 restaurants.
Perhaps the most dramatic flourish envisaged will be a massive salt-water fountain – planned to rise up just at the end of the port itself. As well as being visually spectacular, it should bathe visitors in a fine mist of water on hot summer days.
La Baraquette : the new community gathers momentum
La Baraquette will incorporate a five-star hotel, open all-year-round. Two hundred luxury villas and apartments. A concierge service, art gallery and a 20 hectare vineyard – all will contribute to this new rural idyl. Finally, the creation of an events area will allow the showcasing of local oysters from local farmers, grown in the Etang de Thau just in front of the resort. It’s one way in which La Baraquette hopes to raise the international profile of the Thau region and the town of Marseillan.