Les inventions

La Ciotat, the birthplace of cinema

Definition of Cinema by Larousse dictionary: method of providing the illusion of motion by projecting, at sufficient high rate, still images recorded on a continuous film.

The Eden Theatre
Boulevard Clemenceau

The Eden Theatre was inaugurated on the 16th of June 1889 and is thus the oldest, still existing, cinema venue in the world. It was originally built to house theatrical plays, classical varieties, concerts, and even boxing and wrestling shows. However, the venue became famous thanks to the Lumière brothers. In fact, the Eden Theatre’s interest comes from the fact that it hosted the city’s first film screening on the 21st of September 1895.

It was actually in 1895 that the two brothers Louis and Auguste Lumière invented their devices such as a video camera and a projector, making possible moving pictures on a screen.

Even if the Eden Theatre did not host the world’s first screening in 1895, it is nevertheless the oldest, still existing, cinema venue in the world, making it an iconic heritage in the History of Cinema.

The Eden Theatre was bought by the city in April 1992 and was listed as a historic monument on the 12th of February 1996. The reopening of the venue, after a full regeneration, took place in October 2013.

The Lumière residence “Château du Clos des Plages
Allée Lumière

In 1891, Antoine Lumière settled in La Ciotat and purchased 90 hectares of land by the beach area where he had a residential area built up called « Château du Clos des Plages » and inaugurated in 1893. It has to be noted that the house’s front wall has never been modified ever since. On the opposite front wall of the mansion, on Avenue Emile Ripert, the Lumière Family’s coat of arms can be seen on the gate’s pediment. This mansion is also nicknamed « Château Lumière » (Lumière Castle).

The mansion had about fourty rooms and three painting studios so as to keep working according to the sun position during the day. The whole family, including the two brothers Auguste and Louis Lumière, would often gather in La Ciotat. After some projections in Paris, there was a big private projection on the 21st of September 1895 at Château du Clos des Plages where the movies « Baignade sur la Plage » (Swimming in the beach), « Le Goûter de Bébé » (Baby’s Snack), « L’Arroseur Arrosé » (The Watered Person who Waters), and most importantly « L’Arrivée d’un Train en Gare de La Ciotat » (The Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat’s Station) were played in front of an audience.

This is how La Ciotat has become the Lumières’ second cradle, after Lyon.
Turned into a hotel in 1930 and then into appartments during the 50’s, Chateau Lumière is testament to the time when La Ciotat was becoming a trendy resort.

The Lumière monument
Boulevard Beaurivage


The Lumière Monument is a Triumphal arc-shaped monument erected by the beach side to commemorate the inventors of cinematography: Auguste and Louis Lumière.

The train station (gare SNCF)
Avenue de la Gare


The World’s first movie « The Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat’s Station », shot in 1895 at the train station, is reminded by a commemorative plaque.

The Birth of the Pétanque Game

Definition of Pétanque by Larousse dictionary: type of ball game from the south of France.

The Pétanque game is born!

In 1910 the pétanque game was invented in La Ciotat, at Jeu de Boules Béraud (Béraud’s ball game strip) that was run by the Pitiot brothers.
Indeed, the region’s best players of this Provençal game would meet at Jeu de Boules Béraud where the audience could rent chairs for 0,05 Francs to attend the games. However, as they would often stand in the balls’ way because they would not get back on their feet quick enough, the players demanded the chairs to be removed, which was done!

Jules Le Noir, a local shopkeeper suffuring from rheumatism, was allowed to be seated on condition that he stayed in a designated ring drawn on the ground. He was also allowed to score 1,50 to 2 meters away. One day, Mister Pitiot pleased Jules Le Noir to play with the feet tighten on the ground (les pieds « tanqués »: a Provençal term meaning « rooted on the ground »). That’s how the game « Les Pieds Tanqués » was born and finally got renamed « Pétanque ».

“Association du berceau de la pétanque Jules Lenoir” (Birthplace of Pétanque – Jules Le Noir Society)


Traverse des Pieds Tanqués
This local society perpetuates the cult of Pétanque on the very same Pétanque strip where it was born. It also puts on tournaments under the plane trees recreating the ambiance of the beginning of the last century. The playing field has recently been refurbished including a botanical area making visitors enjoy both tradition and nature.