ARCHITECTURE – cultural buildings, 20th cen – contemporary
A bastion of modernist architecture, the rooftop of Le Corbusier’s Unité d’Habitation housing block is a perfect location for contemporary art space MAMO (short for ‘Marseille Modular’). French designer Ora-Ïto, who transformed the old gymnasium into a gallery, has raised Marseille’s cultural profile: Le Corbusier’s great legacy will be a subject for artists to explore here. Art, architecture and views from the MAMO roof terrace encompass both the Mediterranean on one side and the mountains on the other – not to be missed.
280 Boulevard Michelet
Covered in glass panels, this contemporary arts centre designed by Kengo Kuma opened in 2013. It’s dedicated to art from 1960s to the present. In the Joliette district a short walk from the Vieux Port and the quayside cultural buildings, this building is the latest addition to the city’s vibrant cultural scene with also a restaurant and two large terraces.
20, Blvd de Dunkerque
In the Belle de Mai district empty industrial spaces have been converted into a large and thriving complex of artists studios, exhibition spaces and a popular brasserie. Called La Friche (the wasteland), this development has totally changed the urban dynamic behind the St Charles main railway station. Now a leading artistic centre, it’s a walking distance from Palais Longchamp and the program can be found online. There is also a spectacular rooftop terrace for events and good views over the city.
41 rue Jobin
HOTELS – special sites
Hotel Marseille Richelieu
This charming independent 2-star hotel is nestled above the cliffs by the Catalan Beach, at the start of the Corniche promenade. Most of the 15 rooms have been redecorated in cool contemporary surfer style – there is a slightly bohemian vibe about the place. Don’t be put off by the plain style of the lobby.
52 Corniche Kennedy
Exquisite details in this small maison d’hôte, which reflects the unique vision of its owner designer Annick Lestrohan, who also runs a family interiors business next door. Above a private courtyard four guest rooms are peaceful and quiet, although the Vieux Port shopping and the Corniche beaches are nearby.
123 Rue Sainte
In a residential area, just 10 minutes stroll from the Vieux Port, Mama Shelter is the grooviest of Marseille hotels. Designed by Philippe Starck it’s contemporary, fun and comfortable.The restaurant and the patio bar are very popular amongst both hotel guests and locals. In the surrounding area there are good restaurants outside the tourist trail to discover.
64, rue de la Loubière
Hotel Le Corbusier
Experience sleeping in the great brutalist monument designed by Le Corbusier. Located in the l’Unité d’Habitation building, the hotel occupies the middle floor of this modernist icon of architecture. It’s a 15 minute taxi ride from the centre, but is definitely worth the journey. The building itself is like a giant piece of sculpture. With the hotel restaurant and MAMO gallery on the roof terrace, a must-see Marseille destination.
280, boulevard Michelet
CAFÉS, RESTAURANTS – waterfront
With a small balcony overlooking the port and the yachts, La Caravelle is a classic for breakfast, light lunches, aperitifs and tapas. It’s a charming meeting place for both tourists and locals, with authentic brasserie decor and ambience.
34 quai du Port
This family run pizzeria is a favourite in the Vallon des Auffes enclave, an urban fishing village with tower block rising behind. Chez Jeannot serves both pizza and a good selection of seafood, with a large outdoor terrace, always busy.
129 Rue du Vallon des Auffes
Le Rowing Club
Le Rowing club is right above the water in a modernist style concrete building, with a panoramic view from the terrace and a rooftop bar. Style is contemporary casual, with good value brunch, lunch and dinner menus. From the main road take route descending towards the boat club.
34, blvd Charles Livon
Le Mole Passedat MuCEM
Overlooking the sea on the new quayside, Le Mole Passedat on the top floor of MuCEM is the latest culinary concept by Marseille’s celebrated chef Gerard Passedat. Dishes are made of local ingredients in contemporary Mediterranean style. The buffet lunch at La Cuisine, also by Passedat, is fantastic value.
1, esplanade du J4
ARCHITECTURE – l’Unité d’Habitation, photographed by Lucien Hervé