A building that has stood the test of time
In the 2nd arrondissement, at the corner of the Grand Rue and the rue de la Bonneterie, is the Hôtel de Cabre, the oldest building in Marseille still visible today. It was built in 1535 on the orders of Consul Louis de Cabre, a Marseilles merchant and alderman, from whom it takes its name. It is located on the edge of the Old Port, just a few metres from the City hall and the Hôtel Dieu.
Also known as the house of the Alderman de Cabre, the hotel attracts the attention of passers-by because of its imposing façade and its mullioned windows. With a completely different appearance from the surrounding buildings, the building combines a Gothic and Renaissance style that immediately strikes tourists on holiday in Marseille. The effigy of the consul and that of his wife can be seen on the front of the building, next to a statue of Saint James which pays tribute to Louis’ father, Jacques de Cabre. In 1941, the hotel was classified as a historic monument by decree for its facades.
The Hôtel de Cabre has survived several centuries without suffering too much damage. During the French Revolution, opponents of the monarchy destroyed the coat of arms with the fleur-de-lys adorning the house, considered a royal symbol. In 1943, following the Marseille roundup, the Germans – on Hitler’s orders – destroyed almost all the streets around the north bank of the Old Port. According to the Nazi regime, this area of the Bouches-du-Rhône had to be razed to the ground because it was supposedly dangerous. The demolition operation took place from 3 to 19 January 1943. Only a few buildings of historical value were preserved, including the Hôtel de Cabre and the Maison Diamantée.