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The southern districts of Marseille

Guided tour of the Prado seaside park

Between sea and architecture , visit Marseille and part of its southern districts. Discover the history of the urbanisation and modernisation of these emblematic areas of the city.

Published on 31 March 2023
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Par Henriette


Visit to the southern districts of Marseille

A little history

The meeting point is at 9.30 at the “Monument des Rapatriés d’Afrique du Nord”, on the magnificent Corniche Kennedy. This place is very representative of the tour offered by our guide, Alexandra: full of history.

I met  a couple from Brittany ( la Bretagne) who fell in love with Marseille during a weekend and wanted to know a little more about the history of the city they love so much. They couldn’t have come to a better place! The guided tour of the Prado seaside park retraces in great detail the evolution of Marseille’s southern districts.

Shaped over the past 2,600 years by history, the city of Marseille has constantly evolved and madernized. The tour  begins with the history of the “Monument des Rapatriés d’Afrique du Nord”(french returnees of North Africa). This work, created by César Baldaccini, is 9 meters high and weighs more than 20 tons! Alexandra makes us realize the importance of this work for the people of Marseille and all the repatriates from North Africa, as it is representative of the cultural  diversity that defines Marseille. The monument represents a propeller, symbolising the crossing of the Mediterranean that all  French from Algeria had to make to reach the Phocaean City.

After this focus on this impressive and symbolic work, we walk along the “Corniche Kennedy”, with its breathtaking view of the sea. We stop at a small part of the long bench of the Corniche : this bench is decorated with mosaics, warm Mediterranean colours and typical Marseille words.

Did you know?

“Marseille Mosaïque” is an artistic and civic project, which consists of dressing the longest bench in the world with mosaics, a project conceived and conducted by the association Viv’arthe and the artist Paola Cervoni. The project took place in 14 primary schools during the time of their extracurricular activities, in 3 ARI centers on ITEP and home for the disability sector, 1 secondary school, 1 second chance school and 3 municipal district houses. A 100% action led by the population of Marseille.

History of a Marseille institution

Visit of the Nhow Hotel, a place full of history

We stop at the beautiful Nhow Hotel, former Palm Beach, an institution in Marseille. I had no idea how much history this hotel has a very rich history, and Alexandra tells us many anectodes about it. The hotel has a great importance for the history of the city. It has an exceptional asset,  which the guide will show you during your visit!

We continue our visit to the exterior of the hotel, and our guide then begins the history of the city’s urbanisation, especially in the 1970s. Construction of buildings, creation of artificial beaches, metros, cultural and sport centers, we are told that the former Mayor of Marseille, “Gaston Defferre, is the one who transformed the city.

Facing the Prado beaches, the visit takes on an exciting  history class  and as a resident of Marseille, I was able to discover how a part of the Phocaean City was built.

We then visit the interior of the hotel. Entirely redesigned and renovated by three architects, the Nhow and its interiors are inspired by the South, and it can be felt.

In the sun on the Prado beaches

An end of the visit by the sea

After an exciting visit to the Nhow Marseille, we head down the “Corniche Kennedy” to reach the beaches and lawns of the Prado!

The Prado beaches are a real meeting place for all the inhabitants of Marseille. We walk on the beaches listening to the history of their constructions told by our guide.

In two hours of visit, we learned a lot about the history of the southern districts of Marseille. Its urbanisation, its various constructions in these districts have allowed Marseille to be what it is today : open to the world, populated and warm.

Official website of the Tourist Office of Marseille