Underwater Cable Car – Téléscaphe de Callelongue – Marseille, France

As we’ve seen on the website, cable cars can be built and adapted to almost any environment imaginable. An office tower you say? Singapore Cable Car. Underground? Ski Resort in Livigno. Across water? Vinpearl. Over water? Nandaihe ropeway.

How about underwater? Nope, sorry that’s too crazy. Or is it…?

Well, it actually turns out that not only is it possible, but once a upon a time in a land far, far away — in Marseille, France — an underwater cable car existed (albeit for a brief period in time).

Legend has it that two ropeway engineers descended the mountains in the 1960s, ventured onto the beaches and dreamt up a submarine style cable car. This system was come to be known as the Téléscaphe de Callelongue. And if you still don’t believe me, take a look for yourself.

Telescaphe. Image from

Telescaphe. Image from

When it opened in 1967, tourists could come and ride the 6 cabin, 500m long system for 12 francs. It dove 10m into the water, offered passengers with fantastic underwater ocean views and lasted ~10 minutes.

However, after experiencing some financial difficulties, high O&M costs and an incident, the system shut down in 1968. Over time, there has been plans to rebuild the underwater lift, but none have been successful. The only remnants of the Téléscaphe today are the bull wheels which sit rusting on the shoreline.

le télescaphe de Callelongue

Original bull wheels. Image by Flickr user Dominique Pipet.

So while the system is no longer operating and only lasted a year, the Téléscaphe is definitely a worthy conversation starter — it once again puts into perspective the flexibility and adaptability of CPT technology.

Want more? Purchase Cable Car Confidential: The Essential Guide to Cable Cars, Urban Gondolas & Cable Propelled Transit and start learning about the world's fastest growing transportation technologies.