Marseille

MuCEM

Afloat between sea and sky by the entrance to the Old Port of Marseille, the Museum of the European and Mediterranean civilisations (MuCEM) opened its doors in June.

Turned towards the open sea, the intricate building designed by architect Rudy Riciotti is a meeting point for both sides of the Mediterranean. Never before had a museum been entirely dedicated to Mediterranean culture, which played such a major role in history. The MuCEM fills that void and it was inaugurated while Marseille was European capital of culture in 2013. The MuCEM is the first museum of such importance to be transferred from Paris to a big regional metropolis. Its collections, composed of nearly a million items, will be entirely transferred to Marseille from the Paris Museum of Arts and Popular traditions. The MuCEM will provide a complete overview of the Mediterranean, its history, its civilisations and its  heritage.

The museum, built on old dock, is the central part of the MuCEM. On the ground floor, a permanent exhibition retraces the main dates of the history of the Mediterranean. On the first floor, two annual exhibitions are dedicated to civilisations, cities and men who made the Mediterranean what it is. The vaults of the 12th century Fort St Jean also house exhibitions. Visitors can also stroll on a garden set at the top of Fort St Jean, from which the panoramic view is simply stunning.

Web sites

MuCEM © Ville de MarseilleConstruction of the MuCEM © Georges Seguin
34 previous stages
Pop: 860,000
Prefecture of Bouches-du-Rhone
Specialities: bouillabaisse, l'aioli (garlic mayonnaise), les pieds paquets (mutton feet), navettes (biscuits), sardines, pastis. Soap.
Economy: first French port with 220 regular sea links, 100 million tons of annual traffic, 2 million for passenger traffic. Second telcommunication complex in France. Cinema. Universities. Science and research. Medicine.
Celebrities: Gaston Deferre (former mayor and minister), Marcel Pagnol (writer), Henri Verneuil and Robert Guediguian (filmmakers), Fernandel, Ariane Ascaride (comedians), Jean-Claude Izzo (writer), Cesar (sculptor), Titof  and Patrick Bosso (comics), Akhenaton (singer in rap band IAM), Zinedine Zidane, Jean-Pierre Papin, Franck Lebœuf, Eric Cantona, Jean Tigana (footballers), Jean Bouin (miler), Laure and Florent Manaudou, Frederic Bousquet, Fabien Gilot, Camille Lacourt, Gregory Mallet (swimmers)
Sport: Olympique Marseille (football), Cercle des nageurs de Marseille (swimming, water-polo). Pole Voile Marseille Provence (sailing). Stade Vélodrome. VC La Pomme (cycling), Open 13  (ATP tennis tournament), Mondial la Marseillaise (international petanque tournament in July)
Culture: Cinema (more than 110 films made per year), 2nd French town for theatres after Paris. 17 museums. Festival de Marseille de Danse et des Arts Multiples (Dance, June), MARSATAC (electro) (Septembre), Fiesta des Suds (October).
Labels: European capital of culture 2013 - ville fleurie (2)

Timeline

  • 600 BC

    foundation of the city by Greeks from Phocea (Foça)
  • 49 BC

    Massalia is besieged and beaten by Julius Caesar.
  • 5th century

    foundation of the first cathedral and the St Victor abbey.
  • 8th to 11th century

    Saracens raid the town.
  • 12th au 13th century

    Marseille becomes a boarding port for the Crusades.
  • 1423

    Marseille is ravaged by Aragon soldiers who steal the chain that closed the entrance of the port.
  • 1599

    Foundation of the first chamber of commerce in the world.
  • 1666

    King Louis XIV enters in town by force, destroys its ramparts and builds the St Nicolas and St Jean forts. A galleys arsenal is built. The town develops outside its walls. The Canebiere is created.
  • 1720

    Plague kills 40,000, a third of the population.
  • 1794

    During the French Convention, the rebel town is renamed “town with no name”.
  • 1849

    Inauguration of the Marseille Canal, bringing water into town.
  • 1853 to 1856

    The docks are built in the northern part of town.
  • 1943

    The “reserved quarter” is destroyed by the Nazis.
  • 1993

    Marseille win the Champions League.
  • 2013

    Marseille – Provence is European Capital of culture
Saint-Victor Abbey in Marseille - © Robert ValetteFort Saint-Nicolas © licence Creative Commons PaternitéThe 1720 plague in la Tourette (Marseille), Michel Serre, Atger Museum, Montpellier © Domaine public des Etats-UnisMarseille, La Joliette docks and Messageries maritimes © United States Library of Congress's Print
34 previous stages
Pop: 860,000
Prefecture of Bouches-du-Rhone
Specialities: bouillabaisse, l'aioli (garlic mayonnaise), les pieds paquets (mutton feet), navettes (biscuits), sardines, pastis. Soap.
Economy: first French port with 220 regular sea links, 100 million tons of annual traffic, 2 million for passenger traffic. Second telcommunication complex in France. Cinema. Universities. Science and research. Medicine.
Celebrities: Gaston Deferre (former mayor and minister), Marcel Pagnol (writer), Henri Verneuil and Robert Guediguian (filmmakers), Fernandel, Ariane Ascaride (comedians), Jean-Claude Izzo (writer), Cesar (sculptor), Titof  and Patrick Bosso (comics), Akhenaton (singer in rap band IAM), Zinedine Zidane, Jean-Pierre Papin, Franck Lebœuf, Eric Cantona, Jean Tigana (footballers), Jean Bouin (miler), Laure and Florent Manaudou, Frederic Bousquet, Fabien Gilot, Camille Lacourt, Gregory Mallet (swimmers)
Sport: Olympique Marseille (football), Cercle des nageurs de Marseille (swimming, water-polo). Pole Voile Marseille Provence (sailing). Stade Vélodrome. VC La Pomme (cycling), Open 13  (ATP tennis tournament), Mondial la Marseillaise (international petanque tournament in July)
Culture: Cinema (more than 110 films made per year), 2nd French town for theatres after Paris. 17 museums. Festival de Marseille de Danse et des Arts Multiples (Dance, June), MARSATAC (electro) (Septembre), Fiesta des Suds (October).
Labels: European capital of culture 2013 - ville fleurie (2)

Web sites

Marseille and cycling

Since 1903, the second largest town in France has been part of all the main dates in the history of the Tour de France and the 100th edition could not ignore the 2013 European Capital of culture. Marseille remains noted in that long history for a 1971 stage in which a break led by Eddy Merckx arrived in town two hours ahead of schedule to an empty finish line… Marseille also hosts or hosted several professional races such as Grand Prix d'Ouverture-La Marseillaise, the Haribo classic, Tour Med, aand Paris-Nice.

Among the most famous Marseille riders feature Marcel Tinazzi a maverick character who was French champion in 1977, a year after another Marseille-born rider, Guy Sibille. Also worth mentioning is Louis Rostollan, winner of the 1961 Tour de Romandie and who rode the Tour de France eight times. Roger Chaussabel made a name for himself by finishing last in the 1956 Tour and saying: “I can't break, I can't climb and I can't sprint – I'm a real all-rounder!” On the same odd note, it is interesting to know that a former Marseille bicycle shopkeeper still keeps one of Rene Vietto's toes in formaldehyde as a talisman.

Luis Ocana in stage Orcières Merlette - Marseille, Tour de France 1971 © Presse SportsMarcel Tinazzi in the 1982Paris-Nice © Presse Sports
34 previous stages
Pop: 860,000
Prefecture of Bouches-du-Rhone
Specialities: bouillabaisse, l'aioli (garlic mayonnaise), les pieds paquets (mutton feet), navettes (biscuits), sardines, pastis. Soap.
Economy: first French port with 220 regular sea links, 100 million tons of annual traffic, 2 million for passenger traffic. Second telcommunication complex in France. Cinema. Universities. Science and research. Medicine.
Celebrities: Gaston Deferre (former mayor and minister), Marcel Pagnol (writer), Henri Verneuil and Robert Guediguian (filmmakers), Fernandel, Ariane Ascaride (comedians), Jean-Claude Izzo (writer), Cesar (sculptor), Titof  and Patrick Bosso (comics), Akhenaton (singer in rap band IAM), Zinedine Zidane, Jean-Pierre Papin, Franck Lebœuf, Eric Cantona, Jean Tigana (footballers), Jean Bouin (miler), Laure and Florent Manaudou, Frederic Bousquet, Fabien Gilot, Camille Lacourt, Gregory Mallet (swimmers)
Sport: Olympique Marseille (football), Cercle des nageurs de Marseille (swimming, water-polo). Pole Voile Marseille Provence (sailing). Stade Vélodrome. VC La Pomme (cycling), Open 13  (ATP tennis tournament), Mondial la Marseillaise (international petanque tournament in July)
Culture: Cinema (more than 110 films made per year), 2nd French town for theatres after Paris. 17 museums. Festival de Marseille de Danse et des Arts Multiples (Dance, June), MARSATAC (electro) (Septembre), Fiesta des Suds (October).
Labels: European capital of culture 2013 - ville fleurie (2)

Web sites

Places to see

The Old Port

It is set in the Lacydon creek, the site spotted by the Phocen Greeks when they decided to create a trade outpost that became Massalia then Marseille. The port is lined with pleasant cafés and restaurants and was totally refurbished in 2013 with a huge pedestrian esplanade. Every morning fishermen's wives sell fish on the old port and are part of the local folklore.

Notre-Dame de la Garde

Also know as the Godd Mother, the basilica was built in 1862 by Esperandieu and is topped by a golden statue of the Virgin Mary. From its parvise, the view over Marseille is exceptional. Inside, the mosaics were recently restored while hundreds of ex-votos are on display.

St Victor Abbey

A superb medieval church dating from the 5th century. Its crypt contains several sarcophagus. It was originally a powerful abbey ruled by abbot John Cassian, whose influence spread to Spain and Italy. Only the abbatial church and the crypts remain today. Every year in March a procession pays homage to the Virgin Mary and biscuits known as navettes (small boats) are cooked.

Velodrome Stadium

Built in 1937 to host games of the 1938 World Cup, it is the home stadium of Olympique Marseille, European champions in 1993. Modernised with each big international event, it is being entirely renovated to become a 67,000-capacity covered arena which should be completed by 2014.

MuCEM

The Museum of European and Mediterranean civilisations is the highlight of Marseille's year as the European capital of culture. Conceived by architect Rudy Riciotti, this open space on a old dock by the old port is the large museum the city needed.

Silo, a venue with a seaview

Marseille chose to preserve its industrial heritage by turning former industrial sites into cultural venues. A former grain silo, the huge 16,000 m2 building has been split into two distinct parts. A 2,000-capacity concert venue designed by architect Roland Carta and an office space conceived by Eric Castaldi, who also renovated the neighbouring docks.


Calanques Nataional Park

The first natural park in Europe located so close to a busy metropolis, the Calanques National Park is one of France's most barren spaces but is visited by some 1.5 millions tourists every year. Calanques are a remarkably preserved area famous for the diversity of its landscapes and seascapes but it is threatened by the ever increasing number of visitors and must be protected.

Old Port © Ville de MarseilleNotre-Dame de la Garde © Benh LIEU SONGPanoramic view of Velodrome Stadium during a game between Marseille and Manchester United in February 2011 © RevolutionjoyeuseCalanque of Sugiton (left: Grande Candelle, and the cliffs of Cassis in the background) © Michel RouxPalais Longchamp © Ville de Marseille
34 previous stages
Pop: 860,000
Prefecture of Bouches-du-Rhone
Specialities: bouillabaisse, l'aioli (garlic mayonnaise), les pieds paquets (mutton feet), navettes (biscuits), sardines, pastis. Soap.
Economy: first French port with 220 regular sea links, 100 million tons of annual traffic, 2 million for passenger traffic. Second telcommunication complex in France. Cinema. Universities. Science and research. Medicine.
Celebrities: Gaston Deferre (former mayor and minister), Marcel Pagnol (writer), Henri Verneuil and Robert Guediguian (filmmakers), Fernandel, Ariane Ascaride (comedians), Jean-Claude Izzo (writer), Cesar (sculptor), Titof  and Patrick Bosso (comics), Akhenaton (singer in rap band IAM), Zinedine Zidane, Jean-Pierre Papin, Franck Lebœuf, Eric Cantona, Jean Tigana (footballers), Jean Bouin (miler), Laure and Florent Manaudou, Frederic Bousquet, Fabien Gilot, Camille Lacourt, Gregory Mallet (swimmers)
Sport: Olympique Marseille (football), Cercle des nageurs de Marseille (swimming, water-polo). Pole Voile Marseille Provence (sailing). Stade Vélodrome. VC La Pomme (cycling), Open 13  (ATP tennis tournament), Mondial la Marseillaise (international petanque tournament in July)
Culture: Cinema (more than 110 films made per year), 2nd French town for theatres after Paris. 17 museums. Festival de Marseille de Danse et des Arts Multiples (Dance, June), MARSATAC (electro) (Septembre), Fiesta des Suds (October).
Labels: European capital of culture 2013 - ville fleurie (2)

Web sites

The chain of the port

In 1423, Marseille went through one of the worst disasters in its history. At odds with the powerful king of Aragon for the control of trade in the Mediterranean and for the rule of the kingdoms of Naples and Sicily, the town was attacked by the Spanish fleet returning from a failed naval operation in Naples. The sailors of king Alfonso III, determined to avenge their frustrating Italian campaign, rapidly took control of the port, at the time only defended by an old tower and a useless chain linking one end of the port to the other. For several days, the Spaniards plundered, ransacked, killed and raped, leaving a city in ruins behind them. On their departure, only 5,000 inhabitants were left in town, most of the population having fled to neighbouring cities Aix, Arles or the countryside.

Marseille's humiliation was made even worse by the fact that the Aragon fleet stole the chain of the port and the relics of the most popular saint in town, St Louis d'Anjou, a 13th century member of the ruling family of Provence long held hostage in Spain. He became the holy patron of the hostages and prisoners. After several requests through the years by Marseille to have the chain returned, Spain agreed in 1956 to hand back some of the relics of St Louis d'Anjou… but they were stolen in 1994 by burglars in the church housing them on the Old Port. As for the useless chain, it is still hanging on a wall inside the cathedral of Valencia, whose authorities always refused to give it back. There was more at stake than a simple yachting race when Marseille and Valencia both bid to host the America's Cup in 2010!

View of the town with the chain blocking the entrance of the old port, 1584 map © Domaine public des Etats-UnisChain of the port of Marseille in the cathedral of Valencia © Robert ValetteSaint Louis d'Anjou reliquary (15th to 17th century), Cluny Middle-Ages museum
34 previous stages
Pop: 860,000
Prefecture of Bouches-du-Rhone
Specialities: bouillabaisse, l'aioli (garlic mayonnaise), les pieds paquets (mutton feet), navettes (biscuits), sardines, pastis. Soap.
Economy: first French port with 220 regular sea links, 100 million tons of annual traffic, 2 million for passenger traffic. Second telcommunication complex in France. Cinema. Universities. Science and research. Medicine.
Celebrities: Gaston Deferre (former mayor and minister), Marcel Pagnol (writer), Henri Verneuil and Robert Guediguian (filmmakers), Fernandel, Ariane Ascaride (comedians), Jean-Claude Izzo (writer), Cesar (sculptor), Titof  and Patrick Bosso (comics), Akhenaton (singer in rap band IAM), Zinedine Zidane, Jean-Pierre Papin, Franck Lebœuf, Eric Cantona, Jean Tigana (footballers), Jean Bouin (miler), Laure and Florent Manaudou, Frederic Bousquet, Fabien Gilot, Camille Lacourt, Gregory Mallet (swimmers)
Sport: Olympique Marseille (football), Cercle des nageurs de Marseille (swimming, water-polo). Pole Voile Marseille Provence (sailing). Stade Vélodrome. VC La Pomme (cycling), Open 13  (ATP tennis tournament), Mondial la Marseillaise (international petanque tournament in July)
Culture: Cinema (more than 110 films made per year), 2nd French town for theatres after Paris. 17 museums. Festival de Marseille de Danse et des Arts Multiples (Dance, June), MARSATAC (electro) (Septembre), Fiesta des Suds (October).
Labels: European capital of culture 2013 - ville fleurie (2)

Web sites

video03/07/2013 

The towns 2013 : visit Marseille

Jersey wearers after the stage 21

Classifications after the stage 21

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