Visite Dessinée©cdomtcm20211222-131702.mp4

Longchamp, a designed tour

Discover the sumptuous Palais Longchamp during a drawn  visit! Under the expert eye of your artist guide, discover the history of this unmissable place as well as its botanical and zoological garden while giving you a few pauses for drawings.

Published on 18 January 2022
PhotoPhoto
Claire Derouet
  • Marseille in 3 words

    Energetic, audacious, generous.

  • My favourite neighbourhood

    The Vallon des Auffes! Calm, peaceful, authentic… This small fishing port is a real haven of peace to have a drink or a meal while admiring the magnificent sunsets.

Longchamp, an architectural achievement

A little history…

It is 1:30 pm in Marseille, in front of the  majestic  Palais Longchamp when we met our artist guide Ghislaine. Very welcoming, she put us at ease right away and explained to us how our visit was going to take place. We  will alternate between history of the place and drawing breaks.

We begin by admiring the imposing architecture of the  Palais Longchamp before us. The sun brings out the warm colors of the building and allows us to admire many reflections in the fountain that overlooks the structure. It is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful monuments in Marseille!

Ghislaine explains to us the history of the Palace, which we owe  the architect  Henri-Jacques Espérandieu, also known  for having drawn up the plans of  de Notre-Dame de la Garde and the Cathedral de la Major. Indeed, after 10 years of work, it was built to celebrate the arrival of water from the Durance River in Marseille.
This ambitious project consists of three main parts: firstly, in the center there is a monumental fountain situated at a height of 10 meters  connected by two equally imposing wings; in the left wing we find the Museum of Natural History and in the right wing the Museum of Fine Arts.

After climbing a few steps and admiring the large semi-circular colonnades, we arrive at the level of the central pavilion with its water tower and majestic sculptures. In particular, we can observe a chariot drawn by four Camargue bulls as well as three  female  characters who represent the Durance, wheat and vines.

On the side, we can also admire two imposing sculptures of Triton playing the conch (shell used as a wind musical instrument). At this specific spot  we also have a breathtaking view of the city of Marseille. Led by the inspiration, it is here that Ghislaine decides to teach us the fundamentals of drawing.

To our pencils!

Now it’s up to us! After listening carefully to the many tips given by our guide, we each look for  a viewpoint  that inspires us.

I decide to sit at the level of the dome, right next to the fountain where we have a breathtaking panorama of Marseille  (we can even see Notre-Dame de la Garde and the top of the two arrows of  the l’Eglise des Reformés).

The setting seems ideal, but where to start? It is true that drawing is not my strong point…Ghislaine then comes to my aid. To start,  she explains to me how to frame what I want to draw and advises me to use my hands and position them in the shape of a rectangle, in this way when I look in my hands I obtain the landscape that I will be able to design.

Then, in order for my sketch to be “to scale” Ghislaine advises me to close an eye and position my thumb next to what I have chosen to draw. From there I can measure one or two inches which makes it easier for me to determine the height of what I want to draw, now I just have to place my thumb on the drawing sheet and position points to frame my sketch. Incredible, it works!

Now now on more confident, I go ahead and start a preliminary  draft. Once our sketches are well advanced, we move on to the  coloring, we have the choice between pastels and watercolors. I decide to get into pastels which remind me of my childhood. Our drawings take shape gradually and once finished, we exchange them to discover the works that we have each realized.

“It’s not about painting life, but about making painting alive”.

Paul Cézanne

The Longchamp Park

The botanical garden

All around the Palace we can admire vast gardens, very nice right in the city center of Marseille! In summer, many people come here for picnics  thanks to the many shaded places or thanks to the fountain bringing freshness. Designed by  Espérandieu as a setting for the Longchamp Park,  “jardin du plateau”  is a french-style garden made up of wide paths highlighting the architecture of the palace.

Not far from there is the Observatory garden , which is no longer used for professional purposes, only remains accessible to the general public for school groups, visits, exhibitions and conferences.  Indeed, it houses on its site three domes with their astronomical glasses of different sizes, as well as an exhibition dedicated to the télescope of Léon Foucault.

The zoological garden

We continue our journey down below where we discover the remains of the former zoological park of Marseille, which closed its doors in 1987.

At the entrance of the park we can see the exhibition panel  “Funny Zoo”  dating from 2013, today there are  representations of fiberglass animals as well as their cages and other shelters. Among them, an aviary the cages of wild beasts, bears, but also elephant and giraffe pavilions…Many children’s attractions have also been installed to enjoy this setting with the family.

To our pencils !

After walking around the park, , Ghislaine invites us to sit down to create  our final sketch. This time we will represent the giraffe kiosk.

We sit on benches and once we have made our sketch, we go on to color it. This time I decide to use watercolors. After mixing the water previously collected in the fountain, I come to mix the colors and apply them on my sketch. Far from the traffic and with the only accompaniment of the  birdsong, it is a moment that I find very soothing.

Ghislaine decides to make a sketch of us while  drawing,  We all recognized ourselves in her sketch made in a few minutes, what an artist!

Time has passed too quickly, our drawing tour is over… I leave with a lot of  knowledge about the  Palais Longchamp, its parks but above all the practice of drawing.  Ghislaine gave us her precious and best advices about her passion that she managed to pass on to us. This highly enriching tour is suitable for both amateurs and professionals and for children and adults alike. This visit is for all those looking for a soothing time, rich in discovery and friendly! 

Did you know?

The fountain in Longchamp Park becomes eco-responsible. To preserve its resources, the City of Marseille has invested in the construction of  new facilities to supply the fountain with drinking water, which will then be treated and recycled.

Nos suggestions
Place Bargemon à Marseille, vue sur le Vieux-Port et Notre Dame de la Garde
Finding accommodations in Marseille
Friche Belle de Mai Marseille, salle de restaurant
Restaurants in Marseille