The Belsunce district

Located in Marseille’s 2nd arrondissement, the Belsunce district is punctuated by a wide range of shops. Here you’ll find modern boutiques, notably sportswear stores, battling it out for customers with very competitive prices. This popular district is a must-see in Marseille. Discover its rich history and places to visit.

The history of the Belsunce district

A district rich in historical heritage

Go back almost 800 years: in 1215, all we found in the area was a simple convent. This was built by the Franciscan order, between rue Tapis-Vert and rue Vincent Scotto. Unfortunately, the convent was destroyed in 1524 on the orders of Charles V.

A few hundred years later, the famous sculptor, painter and architect Pierre Puget actively participated in the enlargement of the Grand Cours, founded in 1666. The Grand Cours is none other than a wide avenue mainly frequented by the Marseille nobility of the time. Over time, this course developed into fairs and markets, with a more popular frequentation.

One of the most beautiful squares in Europe was born in this district: the Cours Saint-Hommebon. The district began to urbanize and develop. It wasn’t until the 17th century that the city of Marseille gave its name to the Belsunce district, in honor of Bishop Henri François-Xavier de Belsunce-Castelmoron, who was of great help to the inhabitants during the Great Plague epidemic of 1720.

Another historic date for the Belsunce district: 1792, when the French national anthem, La Marseillaise (rue Thubaneau to be exact), composed by Rouget de Lisle in the city of Strasbourg, was sung for the first time.

A theater was inaugurated in 1857 in the Marseilles district, giving it a new dynamic. Destroyed by fire in 1873, it was renovated in 1889. Between the wars, it was used as an operetta. In 1932, it became a cinema with a music hall until its destruction in 1980. Today, a regional library has taken its place.

In 1892, the line joining Belsunce to Saint-Louis became the first electric trolley system line in France. Since the early 1960s, Belsunce has seen a wave of migration, mainly of Spaniards, Armenians, North Africans, Jews and, more recently, Asians. Many members of these populations opened businesses with their specialties, still present to this day.

In 2018, the city began an operation called Grand Centre-Ville, aimed at renovating housing in need of renovation and adding green spaces to the neighborhood.

What are the must-sees in the Belsunce district?

In the must-see corners of the district, let’s certainly not forget the great Alcazar library, Marseille’s well-known former theater. Strolling through the neighborhood, you’ll also come across the School of Economic Sciences or a little further on, the famous Caylus fountain. Not far from there is also the Marseillaise Memorial.

You can’t visit Belsunce without going to the very famous Cours de Belsunce, the emblematic symbol of the district. A good opportunity to continue your visit as far as the Capucins market also known as Noailles market and the Jardin des Vestiges. Not far from the gare Saint-Charles, so it’s easy to get to. The neighborhood is home to several hotels to accommodate visitors who have come to stay in the Phocaean City. The neighborhood is close to the Vieux-Port, allowing you to return to the port area later in the day to wrap up your day or simply change the atmosphere as you please.

In this lively neighborhood, there are numerous boutiques present to please young and old and above all all all styles. Textiles, jewelry, shoes, or convenience stores: in Belsunce, you’ll find it all!

How to get to the Belsunce district

The most convenient way to get to the Belsunce district is to take metro line 1 (Vieux-Port stop) and 2 (Noailles stop) or tramway T1 or T2. It’s not easy to get there by car, so we advise you to use public transport instead.