Founded in 1942, the museum was moved to the town hall of La Ciotat in 1992, and provides an excellent opportunity to learn all about the local life and history.
The collections begin with archaeology. The region's prehistoric past is illustrated by the objects found during excavations made in Terrevaine. Other objects, from a later period, also provide evidence of flourishing activity in the region during Gallo-Roman times.
Ethnography, which goes hand in hand with the study and presentation of the history of a place, is the central theme of the museum. The region's craft industry is represented by the old tools which served for many jobs, such as working in the vineyards, harvesting olives, extracting its oil, making soap, carpentry, pottery etc.
In order to illustrate the living conditions of the 19th century, the museum also houses a reconstructed kitchen (with all the household utensils) and a typical Ciotaden bedroom, complete with mannequins.
Seafaring, a fundamental aspect of daily life for the coastal towns, is also conveyed through scale models of ships, period costumes, instruments and old works. All this is illustrated by a few paintings.
In addition to these collections, two events which left their mark on Ciotaden's history are highlighted here.
The first, which is by no means insignificant, concerns the birth of the seventh art, for it was at La Ciotat that the Lumières brothers, the fathers of cinema, shot their first reels in 1895. The resulting film, entitled 'The arrival of a train at Ciotat station', was shown to the public on the 28th September 1895 (a world premier) at the Eden Theatre, the oldest cinema in the world, which still exists today. This screening made a big impression on spectators who, dumbfounded by the novelty of the experience, panicked when they looked up at the screen to see a train heading straight for them.
The second event showcased by the museum is probably more important for those from Provence, as it concerns 'pétanque' (a game also known as 'boules'). In June 1910, during a game of Provençal boules (were you have to make three consecutive jumps before throwing the ball), a certain Ernest Pitiot allowed a friend, Jules Renoir, who suffered from rheumatism, to play with both feet inside a circle, without moving. It is from this position, with the feet together ('pieds tanqués'), that the name of this famous game ('pétanque') is derived. 1, quai Ganteaume, 13600 La Ciotat, France.
Tel.: (+33) (0)4 42 71 40 99.
The museum is organised according to four themes: ethnology, history, technique, and industry and natural sciences.© iStockphoto.com / Sigurcamp
The museum is composed of 15 rooms and more than 1,550 objects.© Musée Ciotaden
This room recreates a typical 19th century Ciotaden kitchen with all of its utensils.© Musée Ciotaden
The museum is run by the assocation 'Amis du Vieux la Ciotat'.©Musée Ciotaden
The museum is open every day apart from Tuesday and certain bank holidays.© Musée Ciotaden