New trends drive marina reshape

The famous Marina Baie des Anges, an icon of the 1950s, is set to undergo a radical transformation under the leadership of a new consortium with a 30-year concession granted on 1st January. Donatella Zucca reports

The startling architecture at Baie des Anges has made it an internationally recognised icon.

The startling architecture at Baie des Anges has made it an internationally recognised icon.

Anyone familiar with Marina Baie des Anges in Villeneuve-Loubet, southeastern France, will be aware of its startling architectural backdrop; a complex of buildings that still surprises visitors and was so innovative in its day as to earn its place in ‘Architectural Heritage of the 20th Century’. But time has passed, expectations have changed, and the site needs to be modernised to meet ever-evolving requirements.
Ludovic Richard: “Baie des Anges is more than a marina. It is an emblematic site of the Côte d’Azur.”

Ludovic Richard: “Baie des Anges is more than a marina. It is an emblematic site of the Côte d’Azur.”

The consortium Banque des Territoires, Sodeports and Eiffage Concessions plans to invest around €63.6 million on updating and refurbishing the entire marina site. The concession covers the financing, design and construction of new infrastructure as well as the maintenance and operation of infrastructure created by the state in the 1970s. The approach to everything is ‘green’ with a view to earning Port Propre and Port Propre Actif certification, Pavillon Blue, Qualité Plaisance and Nappex labels.

A new centrepiece

The re-imagined Coeur Marina with lush planting and tiered infrastructure.

The re-imagined Coeur Marina with lush planting and tiered infrastructure.

The centre of the redevelopment will be a new architecturally designed multi-use complex covering 7,000m² (75,300ft²). It has been planned to group functions in logical places, make best use of space and to replace the old Biovimer Centre. The complex will play host to a rich range of services and will be connected to a 2,000m² (21,500ft²) “honour pier”. All is scheduled to be fully complete by 2024, by which time the Coeur Marina, certified ‘Bâtiment Durable Méditeranéen Argent’, will be reconfigured to suit increased length and beam of boats. This will reduce berths from 525 to 515 but include berths for vessels of 20m (66ft) and above in the mix. As part of the consortium’s social commitment and in response to social media comments from local people, 20% of all work will go to local artisans and small and medium-sized enterprises.
Each of the three companies jointly holding the concession has a specific part to play in the remodelling. Eiffage Construction, in collaboration with architects Erades & Bouzat, is designing and constructing all buildings. Banque des Territoires brings together a whole range of regional skills and adds consultancy and financing services. Sodeports, with over 50 years of experience in ports and port facilities, will drive the transformation of the marina structures and infrastructure.

Marina expertise

The new design will focus on refurbishment without detracting from the original architecture.

The new design will focus on refurbishment without detracting from the original architecture.

Perhaps the only company in France capable of combining operational design skills, project management consulting, auditing and delegated management, Sodeports currently operates 12 marinas, as well as commercial piers, refuelling stations and shipyards, and has designed, developed and audited 48 sites. It also created, developed and marketed Skipper software between 1981 and 2001 and thus ‘computerised’ 32 marinas in France and, in 2014, added more sites with the development of Logimer software. The company is also very familiar with the Marina Baie des Anges site.
Sodeports collaborated on the original design of the marina and the Baie des Anges lake and for three years prior to opening helped to establish the entire operation. Ludovic Richard, president of Sodeports and shareholder/operator of the consortium, recalls his father’s involvement with the project. “Baie des Anges is more than a marina. It is an emblematic site of the Côte d’Azur and also a marina whose concept is 50 years old – 50 years in which pleasure boating, boats and technologies have evolved,” he says. “As such, it is necessary to refurbish but not to make a total transformation as it was well built.”
Focus will thus be placed on the technical aspects of the shipyard and drydock area, all electricity and water distribution networks (including increased power for larger boats), and wifi and fibre connection previously not distributed around the marina. All underwater infrastructure that supports the piers will be replaced. “Starting with the chains, everything that is submerged will be renovated in six months. The service building will then be rebuilt in a complex named Coeur Marina, which will include a lounge reception, co-working areas, and a four-star hotel for residents and visitors,” Richard continues.
Next on the agenda is to build the harbour master’s office, meeting rooms, offices, additional hotels and restaurants, expand the covered car park and create new outdoor parking spaces.

Planning for the future

Around 50% of berths in the marina will be reserved for long term berth holders and the other half offered on contracts ranging from two to 12 months, and from one day to one month. Specific attention has been paid to the reality that international markets, politics, economics etc. are highly changeable and new designs must be able to respond to change and cater for emerging trends. “We highlighted three major indicators: catamarans, boat clubs and, in particular, boat rental – a trend of general transition from an owner economy to a user economy that has been accelerated by the current pandemic crisis.”
To fulfil the needs of these new customers, a wide range of services is being specifically designed while bearing in mind that over the coming 30 years further changes will be inevitable. Richard believes the marina, once solely a port for boat owners, from 2021 onwards will begin a journey to becoming a modern centre of excellence for activities and services related to tourism, yachting and the nautical world in general. “The younger generations want to arrive at the airport, rent a catamaran for a celebration, maybe go to Cap d’Antibes, then return to the hotel, play some sport and leave for London, Moscow, Stockholm etc. By taking note of this and the big demand for this type of boat, we are creating a catamaran hub that includes customer reception at the airport whether the customer rents for a week or a day. Nice International Airport is close to the marina and, within five years, will have a third low cost terminal located at the mouth of the Var River. This will be complete with a pontoon and we will have a dedicated shuttle,” Richard confirms.

Care for the environment

As mentioned earlier, protecting the environment is one of the main design/operation objectives. By the end of this year, one hundred small artificial fish farms created by Ecocean will be installed on the marina waters. These comprise a system with two submerged cages that contribute to the protection and regeneration of fauna, flora and the seabed. Sodeports has already installed the system at Port des Issambre in the Gulf of St Tropez but the arrangement at Marina Baie des Anges will be the most extensive in France.
Pump-out systems will also be refurbished in the drydock area and extended throughout the site, trees will be planted and all buildings will be heated and cooled using geothermal systems. Roof gardens will offer around 4,800m² (51,700ft²) of space for urban agriculture.
Over the next four years, the marina will remain completely open as work is carefully distributed around the site so as to minimise disruption. During this time, a small extension to the outer breakwater will also be made.
The new operators started marketing the new berths at Marina Baie des Anges in November 2020 and expect to welcome a 50:50 mix of French nationals and overseas customers. As 2020 drew to a close, Richard confirmed “despite the lockdown, things are going well.”


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