Vg Vauban @otcmhk (52)Vg Vauban @otcmhk (52)
©Vg Vauban @otcmhk (52)
Discovery of the habitats, the 'travioles' and craftsmen

The 'Vauban' district in Marseille

Fortifications or  military architecture are not the subjects of this visit. Here you will discover a district of Marseille located at the foot of ‘la Bonne Mère’. You don’t know it? Follow us for a guided tour!

Published on 31 March 2023

A new borough south of the ‘Vieux-Port’ (old-port)

Marseille’s development

The meeting is fixed at 10 am this morning, at the “Puget-Moulet” bus stop, at the bottom of the Puget hill. Our guide Alexandra welcomes us and delighted to be able to guide tours again. After checking the presence of all the registered visitors and before starting our tour, she tells us about Marseille and the city’s development in history. You have to know that since its foundation by the Phoceans in 600 before JC and until the 18th century, Marseille has never left  the north shore of the port, today named ‘le Panier’. On the south bank,  there  was only the watchtower of Notre-Dame de la Garde, the Saint-Victor Abbey, and the ‘arsenal des galères’ (the galley arsenal).

The Cours Pierre Puget is located on an ancient city rampart. Its arrangements thought out by the prefect Delacroix, transforms it into a beautiful tree-lined artery, with elegant private mansions on both sides. Here,  people lived aside from all the agitation of the port, the city centre, in the heart of a new suburb chosen by the important traders and financial workers families of Marseille.

Diverse architecture

We mark a first stop at the C2 hotel where Alexandra explains to all  us  the specificities of the surrounding architecture. She explains how to distinguish the private hotel, that evolves into an investment property from the classical, “3 windows” of Marseille.
The particularity of the Vauban district also shows us how the bourgeoisie and the more modest population, even the working class, coexisted in harmony.
The cleanliness of the streets, the air quality, the distance from  epidemics (plague, diphtheria, cholera, smallpox…) were  problems that inhabitants had to face in the 18th and 19th century.

Vauban, a small town in the city

Small district at the foot of the ‘Notre Dame de la Garde’

We walk up the “Notre-Dame boulevard” and the guide  tells us about ‘La Bonne Mere’ as we call it here in Marseille. At the corner of the rue dragon, Alexandra tells us more about the ‘Notre Dame de la Garde’ basilica, who watches over all the people of Marseille and the popular devotion that the inhabitants have for her, regardless their religious convictions.
The tour continues and we  take really steep stairs that leads to  the ‘travioles’ (small distorted streets), with small houses with colourful facades, typical of the area.

The revival of craftsmen

These houses, built on the upper part of  Vauban,  used to be houses for  workers whose jobs, for the most part, have now disappeared.
Today, they attract families that enjoy living in a borough located between the sea and the city. We can find all the convenience useful to everyday life including local craftsmen boutiques that defend the French products “made in Marseille”. These local creators also constitute the heart of the surprise of this guided visit, which  ends with a tasting of… would you like to know what is it ? The secret is well kept,  so sign up to find out!

Did you know ?

Many of the  shop fronts in Vauban are decorated with paintings by  street artist Frank Conte, a true supporter of the OM football team. Formerly his studio was located on the 88 boulevard Vauban. Today he has moved, but we can still see some of his art pieces such as the ex-player of the OM, Hiroki Sakai, to whom he pays tribute, represented in a samouraï outfit at the 102 boulevard Vauban.

Official website of the Tourist Office of Marseille