Dawn on one of the architect-designed waterfronts of Port Grimaud. The architect, François Spoerry, faced much criticism for creating this development of privileged dwellings in a manicured setting as being only a pale caricature of a Provence fishing village. But now, fifty years on, the intense supervision of the site no longer seems unusual, indeed it’s expected and maybe reassuring in shopping centres and airports. The watchful gardiens of each isthmus neighbourhood live on site in a way reminiscent of Portmeiron as seen in The Prisoner. But fifty years on, the concrete realisation of Sperry’s vision for Port Grimaud has matured and maybe softened its impression and has become its own thing, a place of refuge, respite and recreation.
Port Grimuad is different to most marina schemes since because of the emphasis on small houses and low roofs caricaturing fishermen’s cottages; also the mandated colour scheme where no two units have the same combination of colours. As an environment it is surprisingly egalitarian considering almost everyone here is a “millionaire”: no one house is very much swankier than another.
Nonetheless, it’s “pretty” and “nice” in the pejorative sense. Not only are these holiday homes and recreational boats but there’s no depth to the character in the way that history bring to a real fishing village. Compare with the Vallon des Auffes of Marseille Marseille Corniche