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CIRCUIT 8 – MARSEILLE I

The complex (the Old Port, the MuCEM and the Panier), is today an emblematic place of Marseille, it is the meeting place of the inhabitants  and visitors from all horizons. Once there, the whole circuit will be done on foot.

The Old-Port

Today it is a marina with 3200 berths for boats, and until the middle of the 19th century it was the economic centre of the city. The port has existed since the 6th century BC. A ferry boat allows to cross the port in its width, this line exists since 1880. It is a place of celebration and one of the symbols of Marseille.

Around the Old Port there is a multitude of brasseries and restaurants which take part in the animation of the place.

Le Panier

The oldest and most typical district of the city, almost entirely pedestrian. Strolling through its narrow streets with a Mediterranean atmosphere is an enchantment, we have the impression of being in a small village with its small squares where the terraces of cafés and restaurants are spread out when fine weather. Street art colours the facades and potted plants line some of the alleys. A large number of creators, craftsmen, art galleries and original shops are scattered throughout the district.

For several years, the Panier has renewed its image because for a long time the people of Marseille avoided the district because of its reputation of ”cut throat”. To see, the Vieille-Charité built in the 17th century to lock up the poor of the city, it then became a hospice during the French Revolution, then was occupied by the army from 1905. Almost abandoned at the beginning of the 20th century, the place was used as social housing from 1922. In 1951 the Vieille-Charité was classified as a historical monument, but it was only in 1961 that the restoration work began and lasted 25 years.

Today it is a superb cultural place, Museum of African, Amerindian and Oceanian Arts and temporary quality exhibitions (entrance fee). To see also in the district, the hotel of Cabre. The oldest existing house in Marseille built around 1535, it was moved in 1954 by 15 m and turned by 90 degrees to fit in with the alignment of the street during the post-war reconstruction.

Mucem

Opened in 2013, the MuCEM (Museum of Civilization, of Europe and the Mediterranean) is located on a breathtaking site at the junction between the mythical Old Port and the harbour of Marseille.

The J4, an astonishing building clad in concrete mesh, is linked by its flat roof to Fort St Jean by an impressive 115m long concrete footbridge, without vaults or stays thanks to the use of a new type of concrete as solid as steel. The building created by the architect Rudy Ricciotti is a sum of technical prowess. The J4 can be climbed up and down via gently sloping outdoor walkways behind the concrete mesh to admire the beautiful surrounding landscape.

Inside there are exhibition and other areas (bookshop, auditorium, restaurant, etc.). Right next door, the old Saint-Jean fort built in 1660 (classified as a historical monument in 1964) was never open to the public before the MuCEM was created.

Walking through the maze of the fort is very pleasant, with its gardens, exhibitions and squares. The panorama: a superb view of the Old Port from the King René tower and many other things.

The cathedral of the Major

Built in neo-Byzantine style between 1852 and 1893 on the oldest church in Marseille (4th century) “the Major” is one of the most emblematic monuments of Marseille. An opulent interior with murals, mosaics and marble. The cathedral stands on an esplanade overlooking the sea. It was classified as a historical monument in 1906. Its dimensions are comparable to those of Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome, it can accommodate up to 3000 people!

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