The coastal road and the seaside
The beautiful promenade towering over the sea from L’Anse des Catalans to the Parc Balnéaire du Prado has an array of fabulous views of the Frioul Islands and Château d’If
A coastal road was designed to give the many unemployed work through the Ateliers Municipaux in 1848 and employed 8000 labourers. Work lasted 15 years. The 25m wide road is divided into two sections: one to L’Anse de la Fausse Monnaie and the other to The Pharo.
La Corniche was fully opened under the Second Empire and inspired the wealthy Marseille residents to build luxury villas here.
La Corniche was a very popular place for Marseille locals to walk in the 20s with its tram link.
The promenade is now 5km long. It was redeveloped at the end of the 50s and renamed Corniche J. F. Kennedy in 1963. Towering over the sea you can see a huge airfoil sculpture made by Marseille-born César in 1971 in tribute to North African repatriates.
The Maregraph Building
This little building from the end of the 19th century is vital to the public levelling network. Measurements were taken constantly for 13 years. The arithmetic mean for all the measurements has helped calculate the sea’s average level. This average level has been adopted as the French zero-level elevation. It is still shown today by a lead rivet.
La Corniche’s bench covers 3km between the Pont de la Fausse-Monnaie and Hotel Sofitel Palm Beach making it the longest bench in the world (1965 Guinness Book of World Records).
Villa Valmer, a contraction of “Vague à la Mer”, was built in 1865 by Marseille architect Condamin in a Renaissance style. It stands at the top of extensive grounds blossoming with tropical plants brought back from the owner’s trips to the East, a rich nut trader. The villa now belongs to the City of Marseille.
III-11-5 Château Berger was built by Baron Houitte de la Chesnaye in 1860 in the French renaissance style of Château de Chambord. It is now a spa.
Alongside these architectural “Folies”, there’s a certain Marseille “art de vivre” in the little fishing port of Vallon des Auffes where you can enjoy bouillabaisse and other local specialities.