Gulf of Lyon - description, location, features and interesting facts

Gulf of Lyon - description, location, features and interesting facts
Gulf of Lyon - description, location, features and interesting facts

A very interesting natural object is the Gulf of Lion, known to the ancient Romans. This place has an amazing history stretching for many centuries. Read about this bay in this article.


The story of the Gulf of Lion should begin with its name. In ancient times, the bay was called Gallic, in Latin it sounded like "Sinus Gallicus". This happened for the reason that along the coast of this bay the Romans invaded the lands of the Gauls located to the north. The Gulf of Lion is the modern name of a natural object. However, no one can be 100% sure why it sounds the way it does. According to the generally accepted version, this naming was given to the bay in the eighth century.

The modern name of the Gulf of Lion

During the Middle Ages, it was called Sinus (Mare) Leonis, which translated as "the Lyon Sea". If you turn to French dictionaries, you can find an explanation for this phenomenon. The fact is that in the past the bay had a cruel and dangerous disposition, like that of a lion. The dictionaries also provide references to texts in Latin. Fishermen and sailors often died from raging waves,a large number of ships suffered. An interesting fact is that the city of Lyon, located north of the Mediterranean Sea, has nothing to do with the bay.


The Gulf of Lyon was formed during the Oligocene under the influence of tectonic changes. During its existence, sediments accumulated at the bottom, which led to the formation of a shelf. After 200 meters from it, there is the abyssal plain - a kind of field at the depth of the expanses of water, which occupies most of the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea. The western and northern coasts are low-lying plains. It is in this area that lagoons and swampy lowlands are located. The east coast is higher and steeper.


The bay is located next to the Mediterranean Sea. Its coast lies in the south of France. The lands adjacent to the bay belong to such French regions as Provence and Languedoc-Roussillon. Several rivers flow into the bay, such as the Aude, Orb, Vidurl, Tet and Hero. The most famous of them is Rona. The bay stretches from Catalonia, an autonomous community in Spain, to a port called Toulon.

gulf of lion

The Bay of Lyons is connected to the Biscay and Languedoc, as well as the South Canals. In the Mediterranean port called Sète, the South Canal originates, near Toulouse, it merges with the Garron Canal, and through it you can get into the Bay of Biscay. This communication system is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as an outstanding example of engineering.


A distinctive feature thatpossesses the Gulf of Lyon, is the dominance in the territory of two piercing, very cold winds. Mistral is the northwest wind. In the spring season, he heads from the Cevennes mountain range to the Mediterranean coast of France. He is so strong that he is able to uproot mighty trees. It causes great damage to agriculture in the Rhone Valley and coastal Provence. But there are also positive features in Mistral. For example, with its force, the wind disperses the clouds, so the sky of the Riviera becomes clear, and the weather becomes sunny.

North and northeast wind of Tramontana arises due to the large difference in pressure between mainland Europe and the Mediterranean Sea. Its speed exceeds 100 km/h, and sometimes reaches 130 km/h. Gusts of Tramontana wind destroy everything that stands in their way, and cause enormous damage to nature and agriculture.

gulf of lion france


As mentioned earlier, the Gulf of Lion has a rich history. The Phoenicians and Greeks lived on its coast. They occupied the local territories in ancient times. However, in the 2nd century BC, the Romans chose the coast, which made the territory one of the most Romanized provinces of Gaul. Some of the ancient cities have survived to this day. In them you can see ancient temples, aqueducts, amphitheaters and triumphal arches. All this is the cultural heritage of Antiquity, because these buildings are examples of the traditional architecture of Ancient Greece and Rome.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, the coast of the Gulf became a tasty morsel for the Germanic barbarians. They areengaged in robbery of rich villages, did not construct new buildings and did not seek to gain a foothold in these territories. Therefore, in the 8th century AD, the Arabs came here, and in the 9th-13th centuries the bay became part of the Holy Roman Empire and, subsequently, the French kingdom. In subsequent centuries, the bubonic plague raged on the coast of the bay, but already in the 19th century, the rapid growth of port cities and the active development of the economy began. Marseille became the largest city.

What is the Gulf of Lion

What does the Gulf of Lion mean for modern France? Firstly, it is one of the most visited tourist places, which, of course, brings considerable income. Secondly, on the coast of the gulf there are cities that are considered the most important military bases of France. For example, the harbor of Toulon played a big role in World War II. Thirdly, local cities are of great importance for the country's economy, because many of them are international ports.


The second most populated city in France. Modernity and antiquity are mixed in it into one cocktail that attracts tourists from all over the world. Marseille is considered the largest port in France and the entire Mediterranean region. From the time of its foundation to the present day, it has been one of the most multi-ethnic cities in France. This is explained by the fact that Marseille is a kind of “window to Europe”. Immigrants from Greece, Italy, Russia, Armenia, Corsica, China and Vietnam have turned Marseille into a cosmopolitan city.

What does Gulf of Lion mean?


What is the Gulf of Lion without port cities? It is impossible to imagine it without Marseille and Toulon, because it was these settlements that in the past turned the coast of the bay into developed territories. Toulon is located near Mount Faron. The Phoenicians mined shells here, and from them they obtained precious purple, with which they dyed fabrics. Many kings participated in the wars for Toulon, because, having received this city, they would have become the owners of a monopoly on trade in the Mediterranean. The Royal Tower has survived to this day, which serves as a reminder of the bloodshed of the past.

Coast development

The Gulf of Lyons (France) has been poorly developed for many centuries. Only in the 60s of the last century, work began on its development. Until that time, only small fishing villages were located on the coast of the bay. Mosquitoes, breeding in the summer, became a nightmare for all local residents. Vast areas were swampy, there were no expressways. After these problems were solved, wide access to the coast of the bay opened up. Since then, this place has become a pan-European recreation area. The water here is very clean, the weather is warm and the infrastructure is well developed. Almost all poor villages have become popular resort towns.

Meaning of the word Gulf of Lion

An interesting fact is that many tourists associate the meaning of the words "Gulf of Lyon" with shoals of hake, or hake. This predatory fish lives at the bottom. Its length is about one and a half meters. Hake even feeds on its own young. Floraand the fauna of the Gulf of Lion is remarkably varied. All kinds of fish, representatives of cephalopods, gastropods, bivalve mollusks live here. In local restaurants, a traditional Marseille soup called “buaybes”, which is made from seafood, is considered a delicacy. Once upon a time, a similar soup was cooked as a cheap stew of unsold fish. But with the beginning of the development of tourism, eminent chefs began to prepare delicious dishes from lobsters and other seafood delicacies. Currently, more than a dozen species of buaybes are known. In some restaurants in Provence, one bowl of this soup will cost you 250 euros.

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