Marseille Durable
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A stroll through Marseille's new districts

Cultural, Hiking itinerary, Pedestrian sports in Marseille 2ème
3.7 km
1h 30min
Very easy
  • Discover the many emblematic architectural elements that shape today's urban panorama, particularly in the Joliette district.

  • (1) The esplanade, which marks the starting point, takes its name from a former port area that housed the J4 hangar. Today it is home to the Mucem (2) and the Villa Méditerranée, two museum spaces inaugurated in 2013 when the city was European Capital of Culture.

    Since June 2022, the Villa Méditerranée (4) has housed a reproduction of the Cosquer cave, a prehistoric site found at a depth of 37 meters by a local diver, Henri Cosquer.

    A third site completes the cultural offering: the...
    (1) The esplanade, which marks the starting point, takes its name from a former port area that housed the J4 hangar. Today it is home to the Mucem (2) and the Villa Méditerranée, two museum spaces inaugurated in 2013 when the city was European Capital of Culture.

    Since June 2022, the Villa Méditerranée (4) has housed a reproduction of the Cosquer cave, a prehistoric site found at a depth of 37 meters by a local diver, Henri Cosquer.

    A third site completes the cultural offering: the Musée Regards de Provence (8), a former 20th-century sanitary locker. Then we arrive at the monumental Cathedral de la Major (9). Below it are the Voûtes, a real link between the old town, the Panier district and the new waterfront, where you'll find places to relax and shop.

    Continuing on, the urban stroll leads to the historic Docks building (21) and the Terrasses du Port shopping center (14). Level 2 of this shopping mall boasts a 260-metre-long terrace offering a panoramic 180-degree view of the sea. The itinerary continues towards Cepac Silo (15), a former grain silo transformed into a concert hall. Step inside to admire the udder room.

    Continue along the CMA-CGM tower (145 m high) (16) to the Archives Départementales (18). The FRAC (24), with its pixelated glass facade reminiscent of a Paco Rabanne dress with sequins, when in fact it's more a question of opening up the structure to a space of subdued light in the Japanese tradition, brings this urban ramble to a close.
Points of interest
1 Mucem
The Mucem museum comprises two buildings. The one in front of you is square (72 metres on each side) and the work of architect Rudy Riciotti. To begin the tour, you need to enter and access the J4 terrace. Admission is free for visitors who do not wish to visit the exhibitions. From the terrace, head for the large footbridge leading to the Place d'Arme, at the heart of Fort Saint-Jean.
Mucem, J4-@JoYanaOTCM.jpg
3 Fort Saint-Jean
Now that you've reached Fort Saint-Jean, head for the footbridge leading to the esplanade of Saint-Laurent church.
Mucem, Fort St Jean©joOTCM (2).jpg
5 Saint Laurent church and the teddy bear trainer
At the end of the footbridge, you will see the beautiful Romanesque church of Saint-Laurent. On your right is a rounded esplanade in the middle of which stands a bronze sculpture. It is by the French artist Louis Botinelly (1883-1962), and is entitled le dresseur d'oursons (The Teddy Bear Trainer). It depicts a young showman training two teddy bears for a balancing act, while playing a tambourine.

To continue your visit, take the left-hand pavement of the Esplanade de la Tourette, which descends towards the cathedrals. On the way, make sure you stop to admire the view of three remarkable buildings: the Mucem, the Villa Méditerranée and the Musée Regards de Provence.
Mucem, passerelle©joOMTCM (3).jpg
8 Old Sanitary Lockers, Regards de Provence Museum
9 The cathedrals
At the very end of the Esplanade de la Tourette, walk past the Mairie d'Arrondissement to reach a pedestrian walkway leading to the forecourt in front of the cathedrals. On the left, you can admire the Nouvelle Major. On the right, in the background of the petanque court, is the old Major, which lost several bays to make room for the construction of the current cathedral.
Cathedrale de la Nouvelle Major ©vvOTCM.JPG
10 Statue dedicated to Monseigneur de Belsunce
If you go around the left-hand side of the cathedral, you will pass the statue of Monseigneur de Belsunce. He was bishop of Marseille between 1709 and 1755, and played a major role during the plague epidemic of 1720, when historians estimate that Marseille lost between a third and a half of its population. Monseigneur de Belsunce performed a number of courageous acts at the height of the epidemic, staying close to the sick. In an attempt to exorcise the plague, he climbed to the top of the Accoules bell tower. He also organised processions and consecrated the town during an open-air mass held in the courtyard that now bears his name. He died in 1755 at the age of 83, and the bishopric and the city organised an impressive funeral in his honour.

Walk along the cathedral to reach the grand staircase of the Auguste Ottin fountain, which you must climb down.
Cathédrale de la Major détail, statue Belsunce©OTCM.jpg Cathedrale de la Nouvelle Major, statue Belsunce©vvOTCM.JPG
11 Auguste Ottin staircase and fountain
This double-flight staircase leads from the forecourt to the boulevard Jacques Saadé. It was restored in 2015 during the redevelopment of the district's road infrastructure. It was on this occasion that the fountain, built in 1852 and now completely covered in plaster and concrete, was discovered. The fountain features the town's coat of arms framed by two angels, with three fish spouting out of the plants below.
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13 Bruno Catalano "Chinese blue" statue, the traveller
The sculpture was created in July 2018 at the Barthelemy art foundry in Valence, in the Drôme département. It was inaugurated at this location on 29 November 2018 and pays tribute to all the workers in the port of Marseille and also to all those who have restarted their lives on these quays. The work is one of a series of voyageurs located around the world. Continue straight on along the port installations. You pass the ferry terminal where passengers embark for Corsica and North Africa.
14 Les Terrasses du Port
Take a few moments to access the terrace, which offers a beautiful panoramic view of the basins of the Grand Port Maritime. It is located on level 2. After this diversions, leave the shopping centre and continue north towards the former grain silo, now a concert hall.
terrasses du port©Leï OTCM (32).JPG
15 Le Silo - CEPAC
At the second red footbridge leading down, stop and turn towards the buildings on the other side of the avenue. Here you can see a trompe l'œil orange-red fresco decorating the corner of the Pathé cinema building. The work is by Grégory Teboul, aka Astro, and is entitled Architectural Evasion #1 and #2. The work was created using acrylic paint and spray paint to add relief to the building's façade.
Le Silo, interieur©VDM.JPG Le Silo©JoYanaOTCM.jpg cinema_pathe_joliette_oeuvre_astro_1©hkotcm.jpg vue_ensemble_cine_pathe_1©hkotcm.jpg
16 View of the Marseillaise Tower and the CMA-CGM Tower
Join rue Chanterac, which runs around the cinema and offers a view of Jean Nouvel's "La Marseillaise" tower. Pass under the road footbridge and cross the tramway tracks. At the corner of rue Chanterac and boulevard de Paris, admire the distant view of the large blue glass tower built by Zaha Hadid.
Walk back up boulevard de Paris alongside the departmental archives building.
Tour CMA1©saOMTCM.jpg
17 Sky Center Tour la Marseillaise
18 Departmental archives
From the forecourt of the archives, you can see a former church.
archives départementale, côté drapeaux, ©MicalefOMTCM.JPG
19 Church of Saint Martin d'Arenc
This neo-Romanesque church was built in 1913 by Théodore Dupoux, but only 65 years later, the building is showing major signs of weakness. It rests on wooden piles driven into the ground. Desecrated, the church was bought by the Bouches-du-Rhône department in 2018. There are now plans to turn it into a multicultural centre.

At the corner of boulevard de Paris and rue Mirès, go down rue Mirès to join boulevard de Dunkerque, which you will walk along until you reach a small old stone building called Richardson 1855. At this point, cross the tram tracks again to reach an esplanade that ends in a wide staircase that you will have to climb.
20 Theatre Joliette Minoterie
The square in front of the theatre is dedicated to a great man of French cinema, the film-maker Henri Verneuil, whose real name was Achod Malakian. He arrived here, in the Joliette district, with his family, who had fled their country, Armenia, to escape the Armenian genocide in 1924. Abandoning his dream of becoming a mechanical engineer in the navy, he turned to journalism and film criticism. This opened the door to the world of the 7th art. He made a number of films, some of international renown, with Fernandel from Marseilles. Since his death, Henri Verneuil has been laid to rest in the Saint-Pierre cemetery.

Go down the steps to the north entrance of Docks Village.
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21 Docks Village
Witness to an era marked by strong economic growth, the Docks of Marseille were built between 1858 and 1863 according to plans drawn up by Gustave Desplaces. With the arrival of steamships, the water in the Old Port reached saturation point. The Docks are over 365 metres long and are organised around four atriums and seven levels. The building was renovated in the 1990s by the architect Castaldi, and since late 2015 it has been home to a number of shops and business offices.

Go through the building as far as entrance D. Leave the Docks on the left and reach the orange statue almost opposite you.
les_docks_village_interieur_5©hkotcm.jpg les_docks_village_interieur_1©hkotcm.jpg les_docks_village_entree_nord_1©hkotcm.jpg sortie_docks_et_oeuvre_seconde_nature_place_arvieux_1©hkotcm.jpg
22 Work Seconde Nature
You are standing in the Place Arvieux, which is home to this work of art, a remnant of the 2013 European Year of Culture. It is a public commission in the shape of a seashell, 18 metres high. It was designed by Charles Bové. After being damaged by numerous tags, the artist Germain Prévost, alias Ipin, was commissioned to restore it. He decided to superimpose coloured rectangles to cover the graffiti. In other words, to combat the graffiti with "clean spots" to give the impression that order had been restored. The result is a self-reflecting cameo of colour.

Cross the tram tracks again. On your left is the entrance to the Totem building.
23 Trompe l'oeil ©Astro
Here, another trompe l'oeil creation by the artist Astro near the entrance to the Totem building. Then, heading in the opposite direction, reach the Frac building and its façade, which resembles a metallic dress by Paco Rabanne.
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The tour ends at the end of Boulevard de Dunkerque, where it leads into Place de la Joliette.
FRAC terrasse4©vvOTCM.jpg FRAC batiment©vvOTCM.JPG
25 Place de la Joliette
Once a major historic square linked to trade and maritime traffic, it is now a crossroads for several major public transport lines. It is linked to the Old Port by the 1.2 km long Rue de la République.
fontaine_place_joliette_et_docks_2©hkotcm.jpg place_de_la_joliette_1©hkotcm.jpg
39 meters of difference in height
  • Maximum altitude : 29 m
  • Minimum altitude : 4 m
  • Total positive elevation : 39 m
  • Total negative elevation : -35 m
  • Max positive elevation : 20 m
  • Min positive elevation : -15 m
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