Marseille


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Published: June 13th 2015
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Although Marseille is France's largest commercial port, the city is going through a rejuvenation these days. Several miles of waterfront are used for shipping and cruise ship docking but old warehouses and empty land is being rebuilt into modern condo and office buildings and shopping centres. We are staying in a newish building on the edge of this, in a 9th floor 3-bedroom penthouse with a huge rooftop terrace, views across the Mediterranean Sea to the south and east across the city and the Old Port to the huge Catholic Basilica built in 1864, the Notre Dame de la Garde, and the Cathedrale de la Major, a beautiful and historic cathedral that was erected in the middle of the 19th century Cathédrale de la Major is an amazing example of the architecture of that time. Originally, it was constructed on the previous site of an ancient Roman Provencal structure from the 12th century.

Marseille is France's oldest city and a major centre for art and history. It was designated the European Capital of Culture for 2013, but perhaps it is best known for bouillabaisse, a fish stew which originated in Marseille.

Hotel de Cabre is the most ancient preserved house in Marseille, built in 1535. Interesting story about it was posted on a sign nearby, pictured below.

Behind the City Hall, the heart of the city’s old quarter is called “Le Panier” (i.e. the basket). Its name apparently derives from the sign of the 17th century inn “Le Logis du Panier” located there. Besides the usual mix of little cafes spilling into the narrow streets, you’ll find in the old area a lot of small shops with arts and crafts products: soap, olive oil, mosaics, artisanal chocolate and kitchenware.

In 1640 the Town Council decided to "lock up the poor inhabitants of Marseille in a selected clean place", in compliance with the royal policy of "enclosing the poor". In 1670 a charity organization within the Council of Aldermen commissioned Pierre Puget, the King's architect, whose childhood was spent in the area, to design a Public Hospital intended to accommodate beggars and the poor.

After the Revolution, and until the end of the 19th century, the Vieille Charité was used as a hospice for the old and children. Since 1986 the building has fulfilled a variety of scientific and cultural functions, housing museums and hosting temporary exhibitions. The Vieille Charité is in the heart of the Panier (the Basket) and is a must for every tourist visiting Marseille.

I almost passed by this site as it cost 10 Euros each to enter as an art installation was in place. But when I saw that the show included some paintings by Matisse, we decided to go in. Although there were only 5 Matisse paintings, the architecture was beautiful and well worth the entrance fee. The rest of the art show was mostly modern art, of which I am not a huge fan.


Additional photos below
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Painting by MatissePainting by Matisse
Painting by Matisse

FUTURS exhibit in Marseille
Part of the FUTURS exhibit at Le Vieille CharitePart of the FUTURS exhibit at Le Vieille Charite
Part of the FUTURS exhibit at Le Vieille Charite

If you think this looks like a slightly deflated, giant silver-coloured beach ball, you are correct. Actually, it is modern "art" and it "breathes", continuously and slowly inflating then slightly deflating then inflating again.


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