Visite guidée Mazargues ©joOMTCM (80)visite-guidee-mazargues-joomtcm-17-1.mp4
Atypical village of the Calanques

Guided visit of Mazargues

Go on a discovery tour of Mazargues, a suburb-village of Marseille at the doors of the Calanques, where there is a great lifestyle and where craftsmen share their know-how.

Published on 22 June 2021
Jade Orengo
Jade Orengo

One of the 111 villages of Marseille

A suburb at the doors of the Calanques

It is 10 am when the guide, Sarah, welcomes us at the foot of the obelisk of Mazargues, located in the south of the city in the 9th district of Marseille. This imposing monument built in honour of the birth of the king of Rome was previously located on the Castellane Square from where it was moved in 1911 to be replaced by a fountain. Located about 6km away from the city centre of Marseille, Mazargues was originally a rural village where the activity was mainly around fishing and agriculture. Little by little it became part to the city of Marseille, but it keeps to this day its old-fashioned charm.

Next to the Saint-Roch square on which you can find the church of Notre-Dame du Mont Carmel, you can see the ‘road of Morgiou’. In the past, it was the only road leading to the Calanques. In the morning, the donkeys came alone from Sormiou to bring back the fresh fish to the village!

We stroll through the colourful alleys where life is good.

Luxurious constructions

But Mazargues is not only village houses, it is also filled with luxurious Marseille bastides that belonged to numerous noble families such as the Ornano family, Grignan or Madame de Simiane, daughter of the famous Marquise de Sévigné. She also  lived in a fortified castle located near the ‘rue du Puit’, called the ‘rue de la pompe’ by the people of Mazargues. This castle  was burnt down and all that remains today is a bridge, which is evidence of the site of an old drawbridge. Hard to imagine that a few centuries earlier, Mazargues was mainly  made up of swamps !

We only see people who die at a hundred years of age; there is no sickness; the good air and the good water make it not only healthy but beautiful. In the canton, you see only pretty faces, only well-made men, and the old and the young have the most beautiful teeth in the world. If there is one person who comes close to the idea of the happy people represented in Telemaque, it is the people of Mazargues.

Françoise-Marguerite de Sévigné/ Madame de Grignan

An unusual and gourmet visit

The local craftsmen in the spotlight

We took a small break in the ‘rue Emile Zola’, or “Grand rue” for the locals, to discover a 100% local cheese shop. A cheese board was prepared for the group. My mouth was watering! We then sat down on the marketplace in the shadow of the trees because the sun was blazing. It is 11.15 am, this tasting comes at the right time!

Sarah takes advantage of this time to tell us the story of small industries that were created in Mazargues. There was in particular, the work of the Auffes (grasses used to make ropes, mats, nets), used to make filters to extract the olive oil and a bit later for espadrilles( summery shoes).

Mazargue is a suburb that is ‘self-sufficient in itself. The people of Mazargue have everything on hand: the church, the market, local shops, conviviality places… the inhabitants say that they don’t often need to go down to the city centre.

Cemeteries, memories of Marseille’s past

We are entering the civil cemetery of Mazargues. I’m surprised to hear the first sounds of cicadas accompanied by the singing of birds. This place is particularly green and flowery. Every tomb is beautifully adorned with flowers, mostly made of porcelain. Some are so imposing they resemble small monument, one of them even resembles the Notre-Dame de la Garde basilica with its dome!

Numerous political families were buried in this cemetery including the family of Jean-Claude Gaudin, former mayor of Marseille, and children of this suburb.

Then we head towards a partly hidden door, and the guide even asks for us to open it. We surprisingly discover another cemetery, the military cemetery of commonwealth, that looks completely different. I’m immediately surprised by the mismatch of these two places of remembrance. Here everything is perfectly aligned and maintained! It is the Commonwealth War Graves Commission ( (CWGC) that is responsible for preserving these tombs and memorials by respecting a strict chart.

Did you know ?

In 1946, a C-47D Dakota of the royal air force crashed in the Marseilleveyre massif due to a snowstorm and violent winds. 26 of the passengers died out of the 28 present on board of the plane. All 26 bodies were buried in the military cemetery of Marzargue, where each year the Calancoeaur and CIQ de Callelongue associations organise a commemoration with the families of the victims.

Good to know

This visit will be offered to private groups wishing to discover the city from another angle, and immerse themselves in the Marseille lifestyle! Numerous tastings can be planned: local bakeries, seafood (when it is the season)…

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