©Marseille, vieux port, 2019

Rue de la République (Republic Street)

Rue de la République straddles Marseille’s 1st and 2nd arrondissements. This street is in fact a way, stretching from the Quai des Belges to the Boulevard de Dunkerque, via the famous Place de la Joliette. The latter provides the link between the Port de la Joliette and the Vieux-Port. The neighborhoods of La Joliette, Belsunce and Les Grands Carmes are located on this thoroughfare. It’s mainly made up of modern boutiques, particularly big names, provoking a strong appeal. Discover its history and best addresses.

History of Marseille’s famous thoroughfare

Back to the 19th century

The history of the rue de la République begins in 1864. The city of Marseille decided to embark on titanic works to create this immense thoroughfare, over 1.5 km in length. The project necessitated the destruction of 935 houses, as well as the disappearance of almost 61 Marseilles streets. The entire project took 4 years to complete, from 1860 to 1864. The street was officially named “Rue de la République” on October 16, 1870. Prior to this, it was known as “rue Impériale”.

The buildings and houses here are built in a Haussmann style, like a majority of housing in the city of Marseille. This style was particularly appreciated by the bourgeoisie and was very popular at the time, hence this choice. However, most of the bourgeoisie preferred to settle in downtown districts, such as the quartier Vauban or the quartier des Antiquaires. The proximity to the Vieux-Port was not to everyone’s taste, unlike today.

The street has been part of the Euro-Mediterranean perimeter since the 2000s, meaning that 4,000 rental homes are to be rehabilitated there. In 2005, a large number of adjoining units were purchased by multiple groups and franchises with the aim of renovating them and making them more attractive. Today, the thoroughfare has developed considerably and is home to boutiques, cafés, bars and restaurants, enough to satisfy the people of Marseille and visitors all year round.

What are the must-sees on rue de La République in Marseille?

The Rue de la République is known for its fashion shops, cafe terraces, or good little restaurants with local specialties à la carte. The area is pleasant, as much for a stroll along the harbor as for an afternoon’s shopping. Its proximity to the Port de La Joliette and the Vieux-Port puts it in a strategic location. In fact, the La Joliette district boasts a large shopping mall, allowing more choice when it comes to shopping.

Aside from its fashion boutiques, the thoroughfare is home to all types of stores of all kinds, including franchises such as Gifi, King Jouet, Naturalia, Léonidas and Monoprix. You’ll also find small local shops such as tobacconists, florists and more. You can even find its famous “Le géant des Beaux-Arts” store, with all the art supplies to awaken your inner artist.

As for addresses, Marseille’s famous thoroughfare is full of nuggets. Here are a few addresses not to be missed, and for all tastes:

  • The Big Mamma – Splendido (16-18 rue de la République). This franchised restaurant offers typically Italian specialties;
  • Le Restaurant Le République (1 pI. Sadi-Carnot). Traditional French food, prices here are quite affordable;
  • La Kahena (2 rue de la République). Traditional Tunisian recipes await you in a warm atmosphere;

When you think of Marseille, you think of cultural visits. Not far from there is Marseille’s City Hall, in the 2nd arrondissement. The building was constructed in 1673 with the help of Gaspard Puget. Near the Vieux-Port, we recommend a visit to the Musée du Savon de Marseille, which is very popular with visitors and locals alike. The famous Marseille soap is world-famous (and recognised) for its virtues and exquisite scents, making the people of Marseille proud. Take a guided tour of the soap factory and find out how the famous Marseille soap is made. Finally, enjoy a long stroll along the Old Port at the end of the day. Let the beauty of Marseille enchant you.

Practical information

To reach the area by public transport, you can use the T2 and T3 streetcar lines and get off at the “République Dames” stop or the “Sadi Carnot” stop. You can also take the 55 bus and get off at the stop of the same name, or take the metro and get off at the “La Joliette” station on the M2 metro line, or get off at the “Vieux-Port” station on the M1 line and walk a few minutes to get to Rue de la République.