MARSEILLE – new horizons

Above the cliffs, and recently refurbished, Hotel Les Bords de Mer offers panoramic views over the Mediterranean from all the rooms

ARCHITECTURE – MuCEM, St Jean Fortress


On the J4 quayside, MuCEM (Museum for Mediterranean Cultures) is more than a museum. It’s a rendezvous point and a viewing platform to witness Marseille’s major transformations. The museum itself offers a varied program of exhibitions, events and conferences, as well as a top floor restaurant and terrace. 

Designed by Provence-based architect Rudy Ricciotti , the museum also provides a link between the quayside and the historic Saint Jean fortress. A ramp circulates behind the open ornamental façade, leading to the roof terrace where a narrow footbridge extends to the landscaped fortress – now open to the public for the first time as a beautifully redesigned ethnographic museum.  The building is then linked back to the Panier district by another long footbridge crossing the coastal boulevard. This spectacular location provides varied views over Marseille. 

1, esplanade du J4

Marseille 13002

MuCEM CCR Department

MuCEM CCR, by Corinne Vezzoni, Marseille
Designed by Marseille-based Corinne Vezzoni this building, close to La Friche, is noteworthy for its beautiful use of concrete.

Located behind the Saint Charles main railway station, this new building is home to archives and also an exhibition space open for the public.

1 Clovis Hugues

13003 Marseille

Views from MuCEM top floor terrace towards Notre Dame de la Garde
St Jean Fortress, Marseille
From the walkway above, inner courtyard at St Jean Fortress, restored with great attention to details and materials








Brutalist concrete by Le Corbusier

carved out in Mediterranean sun – iconic views of

l’Unité d’Habitation by Lucien Hervé 

ARCHITECTURE – cultural buildings: 16th -19th cen.

Palais Longchamp

Inaugurated in 1869, this grand building by Henry Espérandieu (also architect of the two cathedrals: neo-Byzantine Marseille Cathedral and Notre Dame de la Garde) houses the Fine Art Museum and Marseille’s Natural History Museum. The elaborate scheme of waterfalls and statues celebrated a new water canal for the citizens of the Second Empire. The city’s oldest museum holds an excellent fine art collection. 

Palais Longchamp

13004 Marseille

Musée des Beaux Arts

La Vieille Charité

Designed by the great Baroque period artist Pierre Puget (born in Marseille, 1620) as a home for the homeless, the building is now a cultural centre with two museums, temporary exhibitions, cinema, library and educational departments. It is made of locally quarried stone with a large closed courtyard. Le Corbusier rediscovered its formal beauty and harmonious proportions in the 1940s.

2, rue de la Charité

13002 Marseille

Chateau Borély

Built as a prestigious home for the Borély family, this 18th century mansion now houses the Museum of Decorative Arts, Earthenware and Fashion. It has been recently restored with great attention to original features, such as the trompe l’oeuil murals. Surrounded by a large formal garden, the museum is a calm place to visit outside the city centre. The collection is carefully curated, mixing well different eras and styles.

132 Avenue Clot Bey

13008 Marseille

Chateau Borély – Decorative Arts Museum


ARCHITECTURE – cultural buildings: modern – contemporary

La Friche

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

13003 Marseille


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

13002 Marseille

FRAC Provence Alpes Cote d’Azur


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

13008 Marseille

HOTELS – special sites

Hôtel BORDS DE MER par Atelier d'Architecture Yvann Pluskwa

Hotel Les Bords de Mer

This boutique hotel is nestled above the cliffs by the Catalan Beach with 19 rooms overlooking the Mediterranean and offering incredible views. The hotel has been recently redecorated in simple minimalist style. There is now a small pool at the top and a spa on the lower ground floor. A restaurant serves French cuisine with an Asian touch and a relaxed bar by the beach pizza and drinks in the evening.  

52 Corniche Kennedy

13007 Marseille

+ 33 (0)4 13943400

Mama Shelter

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

13006 Marseille

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

13008 Marseille


La Caravelle

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

13002 Marseille


Chez Jeannot

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

13007 Marseille

Le Rowing Club

Le Rowing club is right above the water in a modernist, concrete building on the opposite side of MuCEM, 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

13007 Marseille 


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

13002 Marseille!le-mole/

ARCHITECTURE – l’Unité d’Habitation, photographed by Lucien Hervé

– ©Lucien Herve/Le Corbusier /Artedia

Le Corbusier – Marseille – 1952 – ©Lucien Herve/Le Corbusier /Artedia
Rooftop terrace, l’Unité d’Habitation ©LucienHervé