CIRCUIT 9 – MARSEILLE II
Notre-Dame de la Garde
This emblematic basilica of Marseille was built between 1853 and 1864 in the Romano-Byzantine style. Built on a 157m high hill, it offers an unobstructed view of the city over 380 degrees. The virgin, made of copper and restored with a ½ kilo of gold every 25 years, is 11m high and 24 m with its pedestal. The inhabitants nicknamed her ”the Good Mother”, she is considered as the guardian of sailors and fishermen. A popular devotion will develop over the centuries, hundreds of ex-voto (offerings) decorate the basilica and the exterior, mainly marble slabs. Superb models of ships, saved from sinking or having escaped the fury of the pirates, float in the basilica, suspended from the ceiling.
Burning a candle to the “good mother”, when a wish is granted or to ask something of the Virgin Mary, is a tradition that has been deeply rooted in the hearts of the people of Marseille for centuries. Under the basilica is a crypt dug directly into the rock.
The breathtaking view alone is worth the trip.
Vallon des Auffes
It is a small fishing port, picturesque, with an authentic charm, nestled under the cornice in the heart of the city which symbolizes the “Dolce Vita” in Marseille style. It is home to about fifty small, colourful fishermen’s houses, a few restaurants and about 80 places for small fishing boats, including Marseille boats which are to Marseille what gondolas are to Venice. The entrance to the port is spanned over 60m by a viaduct from which one can admire the Vallon des Auffes with its postcard decor, a must!
Just a stone’s throw from the Vallon des Auffes, the hidden district of Malmousque, classified as a protected site, look like a seaside village, with its tiny port, its creeks, its small pebble beach, its maze of winding streets and its special atmosphere. Walking in Malmousque is like diving into the picturesque former Marseille with its beautiful bastides. In this very quiet area you will find a rest centre of the Foreign Legion. There is also the most starred restaurant of the city (3 stars in the Michelin Guide since 2008). Mostly regulars come to take a bath in the clear water and sunbathe on the rocks, while enjoying an exceptional panorama.
It’s a real little fishing village located at the south gate of Marseille with a breathtaking view of the city’s harbour. Nicknamed “the end of the world of Marseille” because the road ends a little further on at the beginning of the national park of the calanques. It is reached by a pretty winding road that runs along the sea. Les Goudes is a shoreline of small creeks and rugged hills and a superb contrast of colours between the blue of the sky, the white of the rock and the turquoise of the sea. Formerly exclusively reserved for fishermen, the port now welcomes a majority of pleasure boats. It is surrounded by numerous cabins, bars and authentic restaurants (especially fish restaurants). In fine weather, this place gives a feeling of holiday and escape, (whether for a meal in a restaurant, a walk or a picnic by the sea).
It is a small, typically Marseille fishermen’s cove, full of charm with its cabins, its restaurant, its diving club and its small boats on the rock. It is the starting point for many hikes. The sublime view on small islands will not leave you indifferent. Access by car is regulated.