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Les Aygalades district

The Aygalades district, located in the 15th arrondissement of Marseille, is one of the 11 districts. While you’re in the Marseille, discover the various sites in the northern part of the city.

A district of the 15th arrondissement

Located in Marseille’s 15th arrondissement, the Aygalades district owes its name to the stream of the same name that flows through the Bouches-du-Rhône departement and into the Mediterranean Sea. As well as being crossed by the river of the same name, Aygalades is home to numerous village fountains, hence its connection with water. This district to the north of the city-neighbouring La Viste, Saint-Louis and Borel among others, combines the old village of the Aygalades with a large area of hills, partly deserted, rising to one of the first peaks of the Étoile massif.

During Greco-Roman Antiquity, the Aygalades site had a very good reputation. It would be considered a sacredwood, venerated by the Romans who were passing through Marseille. In the 1st century AD, Mary Magdalene, on her way to Sainte-Baume, would have stopped in this area because of its caves and abundant water. During the 13thcentury, King Saint-Louis helped believers fleeing MountCarmel in Palestine to settle on the site of Aygalades, which they initially named Aqua lata before evolving into Aigalada. In Occitan, the term ‘aigalada’ means ‘abundant water’. Following the exile of the religious, a convent was built in 1265 on the site of the current church. In the 15th century, René d’Anjou, commonly called King René, acquired several residences. His name was also given to the main artery of the village.

What to do in the Aygalades district of Marseille?

Let’s first head towards the cave grotte-ermitage des Aygalades, also called grotte-ermitage des Carmes because of the few Carmelite brothers who settled there in 1238 during their exile from Palestine. This is a place which allowed the entry of Christianity into Marseille region. The Carmelite Order has also developed in Provence, France and the West from this site. This cave was classified as a historic monument in 1992. In ruins, the cave is today inaccessible, but remains visible from the top of the village of Aygalades or from the A7 motorway.

If you want to follow in the footsteps of Mary Magdalene, go to the Aygalades church. The cave where the disciple of Jesus would have stayed in the 1st century is accessible from the nave of the church. You can see a statue of MaryMagdalene lying there.

Founded in 1894, Savonnerie du Midi is one of the last three companies manufacturing Marseille soap using traditional processes still in operation in Marseille. Since 2018, after several years of works, visitors can discover the Marseille Soap Museum and its factory shop. A guidedtour of the factory is also availble. La Savonnerie du Midi distributes three brands: La Corvette, Maître Savon de Marseille and Soins d’Orient.  

A former soap factory transformed into a place of artistic creation, the Cité des Arts de la Rue allows you to discover or deepen your knowledge of street arts, on a local and international scale. Built as a stage laboratory in 2012, it covers an area of 36,000 m2 and brings together six structures. The artists perform their shows and performances in public spaces to share their passion for street arts with spectators curious to learn more about this universe. It is the only place in France and in the world dedicated to the construction of shows in public spaces.

If you are lucky enough to pass through this neighborhood during the first Sunday of the month, you can take a trip to the Aygalades waterfall, a little natural gem nestling right in the heart of the neighborhood. The Aygalades waterfall is the ideal place to recharge your batteries or refresh yourself during your discovery of the neighborhood.

How to get to the Aygalades district?

To get to the Aygalades district, you can take the bus routes28 (Métro Bougainville – Les Aygalades), 30 (Métro Gèze – La Savine) and 31 (Canebière Bourse – Les Aygalades). At night, bus line 530 also serves the district, running from the Canebière Bourse stop to La Savine. You can also get to this part of northern Marseille by taking the TERtrain to Saint-Joseph – Le Castellas station. For those travelling by car from the south, simply follow the motorway  autoroute du Soleil A7 through the district and take exit 33.