St Barnabé 12th @ctOMTCM (40)St Barnabé 12th @ctOMTCM (40)
©St Barnabé 12th @ctOMTCM (40)

Saint-Barnabé in Marseille

With over 800 years of history, Saint-Barnabé represents a district that is both modern and traditional, and a great place to live in Marseille. Its castle and church are among the must-see monuments not to be missed. Many famous people have links with this Marseille neighborhood, which is extremely well served by public transport.

A dynamic neighborhood

Located in Marseille’s 12th borough, Saint-Barnabé sits on the edge of the plateau overlooking the ruisseau du Jarret, to the east of the city of Marseille. Its neighbors are La Blancarde (to the west), Montolivet (to the north), La Pomme (to the south), La Fourragère, Les Caillols, Saint-Jean-du-Désert and Saint-Julien (to the east). The district owes its name to Barnabé Capelle, a notary from Marseille, who purchased land during the 15th century. He helped build a chapel and donated an altarpiece. In gratitude, the inhabitants decided to dedicate the place of worship to Saint-Barnabé.

Vibrantly bustling, the rue Montaigne is the main thoroughfare in the village of Saint-Barnabé. It brings together multiple local shops. The former Marseille tramway line crossed this street for a time. In fact, the Le terminus restaurant, the terminus of the old tramway, still exists along the axis of the street, opposite the village church on Place Caire.

Formerly known as route de Saint-Julien, the avenue de Saint-Julien is home to numerous commercial activities. It splits off from rue Montaigne at the western entrance to the village at the lieu-dit La Croix, so named because of the presence of a calvary which, today, is obscured by a war memorial.

Saint-Barnabé has managed to coexist a large commercial surface with small traders and the Thursday craft market. In fact, in addition to the small shops in neighboring streets, a place called Saint-Barnabé-Village has been set up on the site of the former École des électriciens, now the ‘École d’ingénieurs de Marseille’ (EIM), which was transferred to the Château-Gombert district in the 1980s. It includes a superstore, shops, pedestrian areas and a parking lot.

Saint-Barnabé celebrities

Alphonse de Lamartine

Born in 1790, Alphonse de Lamartine was a French poet, writer and politician who took part in the 1848 revolution. He embodies one of the great figures of Romanticism in France. In 1850, he stayed in Marseille as part of a cure at the Camoins, a district in the 11th borough. He also occupied the château de Saint-Barnabé on rue Montaigne.

André Roussin

A French playwright and actor, André Roussin belonged to the Académie française (French Academy). He owes his fame to the quality of his works, particularly his successful plays. Born in Marseille in 1911, he spent part of his childhood, from 1914 to 1919, in the Saint-Barnabé district within a family of the Marseille upper middle class: his father was an insurer, his mother one of the daughters of a powerful city industrialist.

Pierre Fabre

Born in 1926, Pierre Fabre is a French pharmacist and businessman. He founded Laboratoires Pierre Fabre, one of the three largest pharmaceutical groups in France. He spent his childhood, adolescence and youth until he was 20 in the Saint-Barnabé district of Marseille. From 1992 to 2006, he was the capoulié of Félibrige, an association promoting the language and culture of oc-speaking countries. In 2009, he was elevated to the dignity of Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor.


Julien Schwarzer, better known by the pseudonym SCH, is a French rapper born in 1993 in the Saint-Barnabé district of Marseille. With a deep, calm vocal timbre, he tackles themes of death, wealth or gangsters in his songs. At the 37th Victoires de la Musique awards in 2022, he won the prize for most streamed album by a male artist. He also sold out the Stade Orange Vélodrome in July 2023.

Monuments in Marseille’s Saint-Barnabé district

Le château Saint-Barnabé

An 18th-century bastide, château Saint-Barnabé – located on rue Montaigne – was built on the initiative of Antoine de Perrache de Pierrerue, a bourgeois. On his death, his son André inherited the 400m2 mansion and its vast grounds. Over the years, the château was transformed into a retirement home, then into a famous family guesthouse before finally falling into ruin. In 2011, the building became the property of the city of Marseille, which decided to build a municipal day nursery.

Church of Saint-Barnabé

Located on the place Caire, the Saint-Barnabé church was built in 1846 by architect Pascal-Xavier Coste, on the site of a modest chapel. It combines the Neo-Romanesque and Neo-Byzantine styles, very much in vogue in Marseille. The clocher and the façade were built in the late 19th century by architect Théophile Dupoux. The façade features Saint-Pierre and Saint-Jules in tribute to brothers Pierre and Jules Caire, the donors who made the bell tower’s construction possible. Their name was given to the church square in December 1895.

The Paul Arène square

The construction of the Paul Arène square dates back to 1964 by architects Graveleau and Nogaro, and ceramist Vernet. Initially, the project was funded under economic and family housing. The square was to resemble a tower and small four-storey buildings. Between the buildings, covered galleries provide connections. The construction of a canal crossed by bridges was made possible by the site on which the square was built: a watercress bed. Elegant ceramics adorn the basin.

How to get to Saint-Barnabé

The Saint-Barnabé district of Marseille is fortunate to be well served by public transport. During the day, you can take bus routes 7 (Foch 5 Avenues – Les 3 Lucs Enco de Botte), 7B (Foch 5 Avenues – Bois Lemaître), 7T (Foch 5 Avenues – Allauch Barbaraou), 9 (Les Caillols Centre Urbain – St Julien), 10 (Métro La Fourragère – Les Caillols Hôpital) and 67 (Métro Chartreux – La Blancarde).

It’s also possible to take the M1 metro line to La Fourragère. There are two stops in Saint-Barnabé: the first on place Caire and the second on boulevard Louis-Armand. This way, you can reach downtown Marseille in just 15 minutes from this neighborhood.

By car from downtown, simply drive up the boulevard de la Blancarde to the Saint-Barnabé neighborhood.

Since 2018, the rocade L2 – also known as the A507 freeway – makes it easy to bypass the center of Marseille and connect to the northern (A7) and eastern (A50) freeways.