To the far north of Marseille at the foot of the Nerthe mountain range which provides shelter from the mistral, the little port of L’Estaque (the Provencal word for “mooring ring”) is one of the prettiest parts of the city. Its expansion over the centuries is intrinsically linked to the manufacture of artisan tiles. Country houses, seafront villas (Château Fallet, Villa la Palestine etc.) and veritable architectural “Folies” flourished alongside traditional little houses where workers in the neighbouring factories dwelt (tile and cement factories).
Art enthusiasts know L’Estaque as being a birthplace of modern painting first and foremost. Many places, from Collioure to Menton, have attracted the greatest painters but here, artists kept coming for 60 years (1860 – 1920). Impressionism, fauvism, cubism: the name L’Estaque is associated with these three periods. Cézanne and Braque may be the two figureheads but Derain, Dufy, Marquet, Friesz, Macke, Renoir, Guigou and Monticelli also played a role. Most of them painted a dozen pictures in L’Estaque. This little village has had a big impact because of its location: it is a stunning belvedere with breathtaking views of the bay of Marseille.
A walking tour tells you the story of this popular area with a big and colourful soul which, deep down, is still the place the artists knew and loved. The subjects are still here, you just need to know where to find them. Set off from the port jetty along the painter’s path and experience the sites so dear to the artists on a 2 hour walk.
Sail the high seas on the RTM Old Port – Estaque shuttle boat!