Vauban district

In the heart of Marseille’s 6th arrondissement, discover the Vauban district, once known as the “working class district”. Nowadays, this district is very lively and is one of the most popular in Marseille, thanks to its many restaurants and shops of all kinds. From here, you have access to a hill with a green path. At the top of this hill is the Notre-Dame de la Garde basilica, recognisable from afar by its famous statue of Mary and Jesus gilded with gold leaf overlooking the city. Discover a real little corner of greenery with a view of the sea from its cliffs. In other words, the Vauban district combines both nature and attractiveness.

Historical heritage of the Vauban district

Key events

A look back at the history of this historic district of Marseille. In 1645, the area was almost completely undeveloped. It was not until more than a century later that urbanisation began to develop. The district owes its name to Vauban, a famous engineer, architect, Marshal of France and General Commissioner of Fortifications under Louis XIV, who was responsible for the fortifications in the city. In addition to Marseille, Vauban was responsible for the construction of more than a hundred fortifications throughout France, including Besançon, Lille, Brest, Douai, Dunkirk and Versailles.

In the 1850s, new streets appeared, starting from the Puget district. In 1851, a basin was dug to supply the site with water. This was fed by water from the Marseille canal. In 1864, the Bishop of Marseille decided to build a parish called Saint-François d’Assise, located just opposite of the Maison du Peuple.

In 1905, Pierre Honoré began to quarry the rock of Notre-Dame de la Garde. This nibbling of the hill was contested by the people of Marseille, as it threatened the building. The quarrying was stopped on 25 November 1919 by decree of the President of the Republic for the conservation of the hill.

Towards the middle of the 20th century, a large number of workers, mostly immigrants, settled in this district, hence its nickname ‘the workers’ district’. The colonial expansion is responsible for the many names of its streets (rue de la Guadeloupe, de la Martinique, de la Guinée…). Today, the Vauban district is quite diversified, offering a setting where it is good to live between sea and city.

Notre-Dame de la Garde basilica

You can’t go through the 6th arrondissement without visiting the Notre-Dame de la Garde basilica. This is the most visited monument in Marseille. Overlooking the city, it offers a breathtaking panoramic view with the sea in the background.

In 1214, the priest Pierre decided to build a sanctuary dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The number of pilgrims increased so much that in the 19th century, the basilica we know today was built on the initiative of Monseigneur de Mazenod, in order to be able to welcome more visitors.

The work was completed in 1864. Today, the basilica is a place of worship in the city of Marseille. Its statue of the Virgin Mary is a symbol of protection for the people of Marseille, but also for sailors and fishermen.

You can reach the building either on foot, by bus n°60 or by tourist train, according to your wishes. For more information, please contact the Marseille Tourist Office.

What to do in the Vauban district?

One thing is certain, in the Vauban district, there is never a dull moment. You will find in this district a large number of craft shops offering Marseille specialities (soaps, household linen, pottery…), shops of all kinds, as well as bars and restaurants. You will even find designer shops. In fact, the Vauban district has restaurants for all tastes. Pizzerias, Marseilles specialities, wine cellars, everything is gathered to spend good moments with family or friends. Among the most popular addresses, we can quote the Maison Vauban, traditional restaurant by day, and tapas bar by night. We can also mention the Venus Vauban, a very popular gastronomic restaurant, or the Casa Brandi, for lovers of Italian cuisine.

Good to know

A guided tour of the Vauban district is organised by the Marseille Tourist Office and will enable you to learn more about the history and anecdotes of this key district of Marseille.


The summer evenings are punctuated by bar terraces, in a festive atmosphere. This area is particularly popular with young people, although it can be enjoyed by young and old alike. The main square allows you to relax and appreciate the beauty of the traditional architecture, typical of Marseille.

The more courageous can embark on a walking tour of the steep streets. It is possible to walk to the Anse de Malmousque from the Vauban district, which is a well-deserved swimming break.

The inhabitants of the district can take advantage of all its local shops. The area is well served by public transport. The Prado-Carénage tunnel allows motorists to get there.

This district is probably one of the most popular in Marseille. Rich in cultural heritage, the Vauban district combines the freshness of a modern city with a picturesque old-fashioned atmosphere.