The Parc Borély

a green lung near the beaches

Located in the 8th arrondissement of Marseille, right next to the hippodrome and the Prado beaches, the Parc Borély charms us with its ponds, its numerous sculptures and its various gardens. It is the perfect place to picnic, play sports or simply relax in the sun.

The most popular green space in Marseille

A remarkable garden

This park is home to gardens of different styles, including a French garden, an English garden, a traditional Chinese garden, a botanical garden and a rose garden. It is also the ideal place for a family outing as it has two playgrounds, a refreshment bar, a restaurant, and the possibility of renting bicycles and rosarias, but also boats to sail on the water!

The Ministry of Culture has awarded it the label of “remarkable garden” and visitors can enjoy a breathtaking view of the sea. In addition, there is a path that allows you to go down to the beach on rollerblades, by bike or simply on foot.

This 17-hectare garden is home to a majestic 18th-century bastide, enhanced by a French garden and 19th-century landscaped grounds.

A little history

Between 1860 and 1880, the City of Marseille called on a plantation engineer from the City of Paris, Alphand, to create this public park. His collaborator, Barillet-Deschamps, was in charge of the project.

In all, six successive landscape architects left their mark on the park: Embry (classical garden in 1775), Paré (English-style park in 1859), Alphand and Barillet-Deschamps (main designers of the current park in 1862), the Bülher brothers (first botanical garden in 1880).

In 1995, the 19th century rock waterfall was chosen as the setting for Jean-Michel Folon’s original work “L’Homme aux oiseaux”. In the same year, an educational trail was set up to discover the various treasures of the park. The plant signage presents the most remarkable trees in the park. The identification of the birds of the lake is approached in a similar way.

Did you know?

The writer Marcel Pagnol mentions the park many times in his novels.
Since 2004, the park has been one of the recurring locations in the television series ‘Plus belle la vie’.

A park divided into 5 parts

The French part

The French part faces the bastide. It consists of two green mats with a rectangular pool in the centre, separated by a circular pool. Trees line these green mats and form alleys that lead from the Avenue du Prado to the Park gate. They are very popular with joggers and walkers who can enjoy their activities in the shade of the trees. The perspective that ends on the terrace of the castle is a photographer’s delight. Below the monumental staircase, the ‘Bassin de France‘ decorated with two griffins and a sculpture, reminds us of the participation of the Borély family in the digging of the Suez Canal. Around the castle, a playground welcomes children.

The English part

The English part is located to the west of the park. Numerous small paths allow you to wander around the lake on foot or by bike. Small wooden bridges have also been built, which gives it a certain charm. A statue of Diana is present in the middle of this green setting, as well as a rock waterfall where you can admire Jean Michel Folon’s sculpture, ‘L’Homme aux oiseaux’ (Man with the birds). This part of the park has vast clearings where it is pleasant to enjoy a picnic, a snack, or simply to sunbathe.

The Rose Garden

The rose garden was created in 1923 by Léon-Paul Bonifay, honorary director of the plantation department and the botanical garden of Marseille. It covers 5,000 m² with over 1,200 varieties of roses.

The racecourse

The Marseille – Borély racecourse covers about 15 hectares and can accommodate up to 2,500 people. When there are no horse races, the centre of the racecourse is transformed into a 9 hole golf course. It used to separate the French part from the sea: this is no longer the case since the construction of a promenade along the Huveaune which allows the Prado beaches to be reached directly from the Park.

The botanical garden

In 2004, the botanical garden was enriched by a traditional Chinese garden offered by the city of Shanghai, with which Marseille is twinned. It includes a garden of simple plants, a garden of climbing plants, a Mediterranean garden, a tropicarium, a greenhouse devoted to South African plants, a palmetum and a Japanese garden.

Good to know

Classified as a historical monument, the Château Borély houses the Museum of Decorative Arts, Earthenware and Fashion. You can discover the intimacy and art of living of an 18th century family while visiting a museum of today, offering rich collections from the 18th century to the present day.