A morning session at the

Discovery of the Estaque village

When you discover Marseille for the  very first time, you often focus your visit on the highlights of the  city centre. However, outside the city centre a few minutes away from it, some places less touristic really worth it! l’Estaque is a neighbourhood often unknown to the people of Marseille, themselves. This is not about a part of fishermen with only two carts selling chichis and panisses: this little village is full secrets.

Published on 15 October 2020

My visit in l’Estaque

Saturday morning, 10am, I’m arriving at l’Estaque. Although born in Marseille, I have never come here and I’m excited to discover the place. To my mind, this neighbourhood is only a further suburb where one can taste the famous « chichis » (provençal doughnuts) and panisses (savoury chickpea fritters).

But the guided tour of this morning has changed my mind. 

Our guide, Jean-Marie, also nicknamed « le Tchatcheur » (the chattering man) from l’Estaque introduces himself like an actor rather than a proper tour guide. We start our walk from the local Tourist Office where Jean-Marie takes time to share the history of the village by reading poetry. Then a little path leads us gently upwards to the Heights.

And its  flowered lanes

We stroll between magnificient flowerbeds lighting up the streets and the atmosphere (the sun is not out today, quite an unusual day in Marseille !).  This Marseillais by adoption comments on the façades the street names, the link between time and places, a guided tour turning into a play where all participants are actors ! The anecdotes are numerous, funny and sometimes surprising (Have you seen the hidden lion in l’Estaque ?).

Up on the esplanade facing the church, the view from there is breathtaking ! At east one can see the Côte Bleue (Blue Coast) starting west of Marseille and spreading out away to Martigues with a succession of beautiful coves and sandy beaches. At west the entrance of Marseille with famous buildings such as Notre Dame de la Garde basilica and CMA-CGM tower remind us we are still in town.

The more walking, the more diversity and richness to discover in the village and this is due to its original history. I am so glad to learn more of it in such a playful and poetic way. However, an idea has been running in my mind since I have arrived in this place : « I won’t be leaving without a few panisses for my aperitive ! ». At the end of the visite, I walk straight to one of the cooking carts to get them. Luckily, the sun is shining, what else would you ask for ?

When the air is clear you can see from l’Estaque, the grey jetty of la joliette, with the slender masts of the ships in the port, then Behind it, facades appear in the middle of the clumps of trees.The chapel of Notre Dame de la  garde whitens over a heigh, in the middle of the  sky.

Emile Zola
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