'L'Estaque'

"Red roofs on a blue sea" - Cézanne

Discover l’Estaque, an area located in the north of Marseille in the 16th district, 10km (six miles) from the Old Port, near the Blue Coast! Symbol of the authenticity of Marseille, its good food to taste and its many walks around the village.

A bit of history

L’Estaque is one of Marseille’s many treasures: one of the 111 villages with such a strong sense of identity. We often hears the locals proclaim their love for their neighborhood with this sentence: “We are Estaquéens before we are Marseillais!”.

Its name comes from the Provençal “Estaco” which means: « to tie, to attach » the stake to which one moors the boat. Located in a fishing village born in the 12th century, l’Estaque was without any communication route to the center of Marseille except for a mule track. It was not until the end of the 19th century that this peaceful village experienced a dramatic upheaval with the installation of tile factories in the east and factories in the west. The clay deposits are of exceptional quality and the Estaquéennes tiles are exported as far as Mexico!

Entire families have come to work in ‘ l’Estaque’, mainly from Italian Piedmont and Spain. These populations participated in the creation of new districts such as Les Riaux in the west, but also in the appearance of a new workers’ housing: la courée (1). Fishermen, workers, but also people from Marseille came from the city center and built some “folies” (2): l’Estaque also became a holiday resort in the 19th century.

(1) Core-island urbanization in industrial neighbourhoods, generally consisting of one or two rows of low-rise houses in a private lane accessed by a narrow passageway.

(2) Mansions

Did you know ?

To find out more about l’Estaque and its way of life, don’t miss Robert Guédiguian’s film “Marius and Jeanette” which illustrates the way of life of the inhabitants of the courées, between solidarity and benevolence.

You can also sign up for our playful and poetic guided tour to learn a little more about this often little-known neighborhood!

A village of painters and colours

The heart of the village is located around the ‘Place Maleterre’ where, just in front of the church, you will have the most beautiful view of the harbor of Marseille and the fabulous viaducts of the Blue Coast line.

L’Estaque is also a land of inspiration for painters: Monticelli came to paint the Chapelle de la Galline, on the heights of l’Estaque, as early as 1860. From 1870 onwards, the famous Paul Cézanne was interested in shapes, lines and colors to open the way to abstraction. Braque came to pursue his research in 1907 and it was in the Riaux district that he painted “la maison à l’Estaque”, the first cubist work often eclipsed by Picasso’s “Demoiselles d’Avignon”.

It was also here that Cézanne made several stays dedicated to the pictorial research that gave birth to modern painting. There is a commemorative plaque near the Church of Saint-Pierre today.

Take a walk along the painters’ path for about two hours that retraces the great love story between the picturesque district of l’Estaque and the history of painting.

It’s like a playing card. Red roofs on a blue sea

Cézanne to his friend the painter Pissaro - 1876

And more activities !

Don’t leave l’Estaque without having tasted the famous chichis fregis (1)! Unless you prefer to have bread rolls for the aperitif with a small pastis (2), speciality of Marseille? The district of l’Estaque also offers a lot of restaurants by the sea or in the heart of the village if you get hungry after a walk!

L’Estaque also has a large nautical base and the beaches of Corbières, a very nice spot for family to go for a swim and embellished with botanical gardens.

Walking on the side of the port you may come across “knights” participating in the Jousts (which take place on top of small boats)!  The jousts are part of a very strong Provencal tradition and the club of l’Estaque is very active! It shines at the national level and the training of the players, these knights of the seas, are part of the folklore of the district on Sundays. And don’t miss the competitions to enjoy a popular, musical and festive atmosphere and to go and cheer on the Estaque team.

(1) A fried-dough pastry

(2) An anise-flavoured spirit and apéritif

How to get to l’Estaque?

By public transport

Take the tramway 2 or 3 (from Cours Saint Louis or Belsunce) to Joliette, or the metro line 2.
Take bus 35 (direction Estaque Riaux) – get off at Estaque Port.

With the maritime shuttle

During the summer months, it is possible to take a maritime shuttle from the Vieux-Port and go to Estaque by boat. A more direct and original way to get to the chichis and panisses district.
Period: from the end of April to the end of September, departure every hour.

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