Posts Tagged ‘Mucem’


IMG_5644There has certainly been a development boom locally this year. I’m not sure whether these innovations were a result of the Year of Culture or whether they would have happened anyway; but the focus on Marseille-Provence certainly proved a powerful (if sometimes belated) impetus to transforming parts of Marseille or renovating existing museums.

 They all have one thing in common – this time last year, none of us had experienced them. How quickly they have become familiar!

Here’s my Top Ten Highlights – and, to follow, some lowlights: (more…)

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This was the stampede to go into Mucem the other day when we visited!mucem rush hour  But don’t be put off as there is so much space inside and it really wasn’t crowded.  Tomorrow (like all first Sundays) it’s free to visit the exhibitions inside.  Exploring the buildings themselves is free anyway.

Now for a treat.  Local writer Juliet Young is sharing her Guide to Marseille, produced for the Var Village Voice, with Aixcentric readers.  In it, she lists all her ‘bonnes adresses’: where to stay, eat and drink, what to visit, and how to get into town.

You can click here for a Word document, easy to print for reference, Where to Stay and Eat in Marseille or use the tab ‘Guide to Marseille’ on the website.  Thanks to Juliet for all her great ideas and recommendations.

If you love Marseille, do see Pagnol’s ‘Marius’ and ‘Fanny’, directed by Daniel Auteuil, showing at the Cézanne.  Two wonderful films.  The stories are fairly easy to follow but I must admit to missing chunks of the dialogue – now to read the plays!

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Architects and engineers used innovative techniques to construct the passerelles

Architects and engineers used innovative techniques to construct the passerelles

Yesterday I visited the new MUCEM building along with the renovated Fort St Jean and came away hugely impressed with the whole complex: firstly, what a site!  (more…)

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It’s summer, it’s hot…and so is the choice of outings this weekend.  MUCEM finally opens (see last post) and remember across the road there is the beautifully-restored sanitary station which houses the Regards de Provence museum.  Their colourful show of paintings of Marseille, highly recommended, has been extended to 16th June, open daily.

transhumanceBut the most astonishing event has to be the culmination of the TransHumance processions which arrive in Marseille this coming weekend.

How will the assorted sheep, goats and horses fare when streaming through the streets of France’s second largest city? 

The agenda is here: http://www.mp2013.fr/evenements/2013/06/arrivee-de-la-transhumance-a-marseille/?lang=en

In complete contrast, the Vive Coté Sud show in Aix’s Parc Jourdan enters its 15th year.  The theme this year is ‘Les Suds en Terrasse’.

magazine-imageI love the French expression, ‘un petit coin de paradis’ and this exhibition shows you how to create one.  There are lots of stands to inspire and interviews with designers and architects to inform.  I have been to several of these shows over the years and always come out with lots of ideas, to the joy of M. Aixcentric……….

Here is the press kit with all relevant information: cote sud

The Great Gatsby is still on at the cinemas and I would highly recommend it.  I was put off by the negativity of many of the reviews, but, when I finally saw it, really enjoyed it.  The cinematography is outstanding – especially in 3D – with the camera zooming through the opulent parties at West Egg and the contrasting desolation of the Valley of Ashes; the acting is good, especially Carey Mulligan as Daisy.  The costumes and sets are just wonderful;  and I was surprised by the power and impact of the Jay-Z and Beyoncé soundtrack. gatsby  Baz Luhrmann’s interpretation stuck pretty well to Fitzgerald’s plot and brought the novel alive right up to the sadness of the famous ending.  Recommended!

Sometimes I do struggle to understand what is going on round here.  Have a look at this one: http://www.mp2013.fr/evenements/2013/06/in-loving-memory-2/?lang=en  where ‘audiences relearn how to breathe together, to think and to speak’.  It seems to be some sort of theatrical/cinematic experience…if anyone goes, do let us know what it is!!

Enjoy the weekend.

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MUCEMLucky Francois Holland to be in Marseille today opening MUCEM.  I can’t wait to have a look around this new building, see the exhibitions and venture over the walkway to the Fort St Jean.  (more…)

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Thank goodness we can look forward to more of the new buildings being ready for the Year of Culture.  MUCEM will be inaugurated by President Holland on June 4th and will open its doors to the public on June 7th.  It will be free access for the public on June 7th, 8th and 9th.mucem-marseille-musee-ricciotti The fascinating documentary on France 3 on Wednesday evening went some way to explaining the complexity of the building – the two walkways which link MUCEM to the Fort St Jean and then across to the Esplanade de la Tourette had to be made from innovative strengthened concrete to withstand the pressures.  I don’t think I’ll be the first across!

Inside MUCEM, thousands of exhibits, from national museums, will illustrate the theme of Mediterranean civilisation.  Architect Rudy Ricciotti has added the distinctive concrete ‘lace’ walls, so reminiscent of eastern Mediterranean design.  I would imagine the sun shining through these will make the most amazingly pretty patterns.  There will also be a ‘restaurant panoramique’ managed by Gérard Passédat of Le Petit Nice.



So, walking bravely across the passerelle, visitors will come to the renovated Fort St Jean which was constructed by Louis XIV with its cannons directed, not out to sea to shoot at pirates, but inwards on the uppity population of Marseille.  This area will be a 15000 sq m garden which is currently being landscaped and planted up.  Good for picnics!  The fort itself will have a display on its history and will house temporary expos.

On the other side of MUCEM will be the Villa Mediterranée which opens on 15th June.

It is a strange looking building but apparently architect Stefano Boeri wanted to bring the sea rightvilla-mediterranee-marseille-2013 in at the ground floor. So the top part which projects out will have a massive exhibition space above the 2000m2 bassin, and below water will be an agora with an amphitheatre.  It will be free to go in and wander around but 7€ for exhibitions.  The purpose of the centre is to provide a place of contact for all Mediterranean countries.  There will be all manner of conferences and think-tanks.  They will also place an emphasis on the young people of the region.  Indeed the first exhibition is ‘2031 Mediterranee Nos Futurs!’  The 70m€ tab has been picked up by PACA.

Much as I am looking forward to seeing all these new buildings, I must say that I can’t wait for the Transhumance to happen. Again I have to thank the documentary on Wednesday for explaining how all these sheep, horses, goats and so on will be rounded up and herded through Provence and right into Marseille. It is utterly and splendidly bonkers.  Horses will be coming from Italy and Morocco to join in, and they will be led by a wonderful woman who stands on a black horse in a long ball-gown.  TransHumance-2

The programme showed her and her partner riding their horses through Gare St Charles to the astonishment of people waiting around for their trains.

There will be animals converging on Marseille from 3 different starting points across Provence, and they will meet up at the Vieux Port on Sunday 9th June.  This I must see!

Of course it has been sad that all the buildings weren’t ready on January 1st; and I do think the communications have been bewildering.

But so far so interesting.  The MP2013 theme is focusing on celebrating the whole Mediterranean, rather than simply Provence, which would have been the obvious thing to do; and the individual activities, and the new buildings, are very creative and stimulating. It will leave an enormous legacy which should have a powerful regenerative effect on the city.

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Francois Hollande will be in Marseille on Saturday 12th to officially open the MP2013 Year of Culture.

Along with Aurelie Filippetti, the Minister for Culture, and European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, he will be at MUCEM (the new museum for the Mediterranean region) to lay the final stone.  The ceremony will take place at 15:00hrs. 

What a pity the museum won’t be open until June!

Anyway you can get a sneak preview on Sunday 13th: they are having a Portes Ouvertes when the architect Rudy Riccotti will be present.  It looks to be a really interesting and impressive building.  Details on the MP2013 website (remember I’ve put a tab at the top of the blog where I’m sticking all the useful MP2013 links).

BTW, M Barroso will be in Aix  that morning for the inauguration of the ‘L’árt à l’Endroit’  trail of installations.

I don’t expect the President will have time for a wander round the Panier while he is in town – a pity as it is such an engaging quartier.bardupanierLynneAlderson 

Today’s Guardian has a really useful guide to shopping there – the journalist has uncovered some funky little shops, thanks to her guide.  She had booked a trip with a ‘greeter’, one of a group of locals who take people sightseeing free of charge, just happy to pass on their love for their city.

Details are on www.marseilleprovencegreeters.com and the link to the article is below.


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First up – in Aix, there will be a Fete de Pietonisation to celebrate the ongoing roll-out of pedestrianisation in the town centre.  Tomorrow afternoon and evening there will be jazz, activities in rue Mignet and rue d’Italie (two newly pedestrianised streets), performances from the local ballet and a rolling piano, from street to street.  Promises to be fun.

Click here for a pdf showing an agenda and map for aforesaid piano!  PIETO-flyerSITE

Down in Marseille meanwhile, we get our first opportunity to explore the new building for MUCEM – the new museum for Mediterranean culture.  It is being built round the corner from the Vieux Port, transforming a run-down area and linking to the Fort St Jean with a walkway across the sea.  It’s going to be a dramatic addition to the town.  Thanks to Jo for this information.  If you read my last blog from Marseille, you will know that the VP area is very busy with travaux for the pietonisation.  I’d recommend public transport and a bit of patience walking round there too as you have to wend between work areas.  But I’m sure it’ll be worth it to have a peek at this interesting new building!

Have a good weekend

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Last month a 250kg American bomb was discovered in Marseille by workmen constructing the new museum, Mucem, between the Cathedral and the Fort Saint-Jean.  La Provence reported yesterday that there would be an evacuation and detonation on Sunday.

Today has seen various meetings and the date has now been postponed to Wednesday 18th.  This was partly because neighbouring shop-keepers didn’t want the first weekend of their sales disrupted, but also because there is a match on Sunday evening between OM and Lille and the local police are heavily involved with that.

The ‘débombage(every day a new word!) is expected to take about 120  minutes and the security cordon will be in place for several hours afterwards.  They expect to clear either a 400m diameter which would mean moving 600 locals, or an 800m area which would affect 15,000 people.  They are also making decisions on whether to defuse the bomb on site or take it out to sea. Of course this is very close to the shipping route between the Marseille docks and Corsica and North Africa;  and pollution is another factor to be considered.

There will be an announcement tomorrow from the Prefect’s office when all these details have been finalised. I will post any new developments but if you are going to Marseille, do keep an eye on the local news.

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