Place du 8 Mai
This place, which is situated at the foot of the majestic staircase of Pénitents Bleus Chapel, keeps the memory alive of great gatherings and ceremonies that took place there. The amphitheatre’s tiers that surround the square were built in 1853. This square would fulfill its functions while the chapel was still dedicated to the cult.
The chapel is now an exhibition hall and Place du 8 Mai is now a square where events are hosted, such as the Saint-John Fire and many balls that have also designated the place as Place du Grand Bal (The Great Ball Square). Recently redevelopped, the square is now equipped with water spurts.
Place Pierre Gautier, also called Place du Théâtre
This place bears the name of the musician Pierre Gautier, who was born in La Ciotat in 1642 and who was the founder of Marseille’s Music School. It is also commonly nicknamed Place du Théâtre (Theatre Square) due to the presence of a theatre venue. This building has turned into a multimedia library and it thus conserves its cultural vocation.
Place de la Liberté
This square was built in 1796. The legend says that this square was named after an ancestral hackberry that was already planted there and that was the 1789’s Tree of Liberty. The structure of the square, designed by the architect Gouirand, is organized around the Human and Citizen Laws Monument erected for the 200 year-old anniversary of the French Revolution.
This place bears the name of a former mayor and benefactor of La Ciotat (1829-1897). The square’s main interest is Minimes Chapel that used to be a secondary school directed by the Minimes Fathers from 1745 to the French Revolution.
This triangle-shaped square was named after Henri Adolphe Esquiros, a literary man and politician of La Ciotat (1814-1876). The front wall of Sainte-Anne Chapel, made by the Pénitents Noirs brotherhood in 1630, marks the limit of the square on the right handside from Rue Gueymard.
On the left handside, there is Saint-Joseph Chapel also made by the Pénitents Noirs brotherhood. This chapel has kept its beautiful main door made in carved walnut. In those days, the Lion d’Or Inn was just in front of this chapel. These two buildings would surround the Gate of Cassis in the 1550’s which enabled to get out of the city and to take the pathway to Cassis.
Place Evariste Gras
Evariste Gras was one of La Ciotat’s former Mayors (1846-1928).
In the middle of this square, there rises a metal building that used to house the city’s former covered market, designed by Delestrade, an architect from Marseille.
This market opened in January 1892 despite the market gardeners and stallholders’s strong protests as they regretted the former location of « Place aux Fruits » (Fruits Square), which is now Place Sadi Carnot.
A few decades later, it turned out that the premises were too spacious. The south-west part of the covered market was therefore rent out to make it a cinema venue called « Le Kursaal ». Later, this venue was redevelopped to make it a three-room movie theatre called « Le Lumière ». Simultaneously, the north-east part of the market was being turned into the public library.
Place Sadi Carnot
This place was named on the 15th of April 1903 as memory of the French President Sadi Carnot who was murdered in Lyon in 1894. Carnot came to La Ciotat on the 18th of April 1890 to attend the launch of the ship called “Polynésien”. The square was part of a ancient cemetery that dates back to the Roman period and that surrounded the church. For two years the place was used as a fruit market before it became Place de la Liberté (Liberty Square) during the French Revolution, and Place de la Poissonerie (Fishmongers Square) when a covered fish market was set up there. In 1947, the covered market got razed and replaced by a small garden with a beautiful fountain made off the stone from Rognes and benches around the 100 year-old magnolia.
Square Jean Bouissou
This square was created in 1932 after the demolition of a block. Previously named Square Aristide Briand who was an apostle of peace, it became Square Jean Bouissou during the inauguration of the monument dedicated to a charitable doctor and mayor of La Ciotat, deceased in 1934.
Place Emile Zola
This place bears the name of the famous French novelist Emile Zola (1840-1902). Between 1870 and 1875 the destruction of a cluster of rundown houses, where the Common House was, enabled to create a gateway to the quays. From this square, the church’s front wall along with the calvary, made in 1821, that reminds of the Mission Cross, can be seen.