The Noailles district

Nicknamed the belly of Marseille, this famous district is located in the city’s 1st arrondissement. Paced by its large daily market and its mostly ancient stores, the Noailles district is much appreciated by locals. It’s one of Marseille’s liveliest spots, frequented by young and old alike, from all social classes. A multicultural neighborhood, the latter is made up of numerous narrow, yet flower-filled streets, home to sumptuous Haussmannian buildings, a trace of its past.

Back in time: a little history

The origins of the Noailles district

Let’s go back to the 17th century. The city’s wealthiest residents lived in this bourgeois neighborhood, including Lieutenant Jacques de Noailles, Lieutenant of the Galleys and Representative of the KingLouis XIV. In 1665, the Capuchin mendicant order established its convent here. Catherine de Médicis purchased the land, but in 1791 the convent was declared national property and the monks were expelled. Today, the famous marché des Capucins can be found on this site, as well as the rue Longue des Capucins, well known to all Marseilles papis! This narrow street, which originally bore 3 different names, is still very busy and pedestrian traffic is often difficult. This “long” street links the Noailles, Belsunce and Saint-Charles districts, and also crosses Marseille’s “Chinese” district, where textile and jewelry wholesalers are to be found. The Noailles district is a gateway to the Cours Julien district, home to designers and street artists. To get there, take the staircase at 99 rue d’Aubagne, which spans the Cours Lieutaud.

The year 1666 marked a decisive turning point for the Marseilles district: creation of the rue des Nobles and La Canebière (where hemp is produced). At the time, the population of Noailles was mainly a bourgeois population where great fortunes stayed.
In 1679, Jean-Baptiste Charbert, builder of galleys, had a town house built. La Fayette married Marie Adrienne Françoise de Noailles in this hotel in 1774. It was demolished in 1830. Other grandiose hotels were built during the 16th century, including the Hôtel de Manse, the Hôtel Mirabeau and the Grand Hôtel de Noailles. Gandhi himself stayed in one of the district’s hotels in 1931, accompanied by his two goats.
Many bourgeois businesses opened their doors during this same period. The neighborhood grew and expanded in the 1850s. A tramway line was opened in 1893, which is today’s Noailles metro station. To this day, the Noailles district is best known for the marché des Capucins, a food market founded in 1956.

What to do when you visit the Noailles district

Wandering around the Noailles district is like stepping back in time. Many of the stores and restaurants here havebeen around for several centuries, making for great finds and bewitching smells of elsewhere and spices.

You can’t pass through this Marseille neighborhood without stopping by the Capucins market. This is the least expensive market in downtown Marseille. You can find everything in this district: fruit and vegetables, fishmongers, butchers, spices, pizzerias, fabrics, particularly from African countries.

Noailles is also known for its many shops of all kinds. Some of them are particularly original and old. Don’t miss the oldest hardware store in France. Dating back to 1827, the Maison Empereur welcomes you within its walls from Monday to Saturday in the Noailles district.

Direction rue du Marché des Capucins, around the oldest café terrace in all of Noailles: the Prinder. Eat in and enjoy the beautiful Marseille sunshine for a well-deserved moment of relaxation. Founded in 1925, its vintage style guarantees quality photos. Successful selfies!

A little further along, on rue Méolan, is l’herboristerie du Père Blaize. Two centuries old, you can buy medicinal plants of all kinds here.

Finally, what would a good neighborhood be without good restaurants? There’s no shortage of nuggets in Marseille’s famous district. Among the must-try spots, we can mention the pizzeria Chez Sauveur, for traditional pizzas cooked the old-fashioned way. We can also recommend Le Femina and its famous couscous, a true institution. For more details on this must-see neighborhood, guided tours are available. Don’t hesitate to ask!”

Our advice

We recommend you visit the Noailles district on foot. Motorized, you’ll have trouble parking because of the market and its mostly pedestrian lanes, which are always busy. The neighborhood is easily accessible by public transport. You have a choice. Either the metro line 2 (Noailles stop), or tram line 1 (Noailles stop)or tram line 2 (Canebière-Capucins stop), or tram line 3 (Cours Saint-Louis stop).