Posts Tagged ‘Vieux Port’

deco5May in Aix.  Que de bonheur!  And I hope you have bought your little posy of muguet to ensure future happiness.

There is certainly plenty to do in the coming days to make culture-vultures happy.

We can start with Sm’art which is a large open-air show of contemporary arts – 200 painters, photographers and sculptors will be exhibiting in the Parc Jourdan from 2nd – 6th May.

You have to pay to go in but it is worth it if you like really funky art.  It must be a treasure trove for collectors, but for those of us who like painting, it provides lots of inspiration.  They also have a nice café for tea on the lawn.  Details: http://www.salonsmart-aix.com/fr_FR/

More conventional art is on show at the Fondation Monticelli where their new expo starts May 1st.  Entitled ‘Cassis, Marseille, L’Estaque 1830-1930’ it sounds promising but no details on their website.  Why oh why don’t these organisations let us into their secrets?  Anyway, it’s a fabulous place to visit.view from gallery  Just look at the views from the windows!  The gallery is in a converted fort perched on rocks high above L’Estaque.  There is a huge free car park.  No café but it’s easy to roll on down the hill into the town for a coffee.

Friday you have a choice between two fascinating events.

In Aix, there is an all-night reading of the entire Odyssey in the place de l’Hotel de Ville. There will be a relay team of readers accompanied by dancers and musicians.  From 18:00 to 05:00 the next morning.  In front of the Hotel des Grains whose bibliotheque will be open throughout.  More info on www.odyssee2013aixenprovence.blogspot.fr.

Cie Carabosse / Installations de feu / Fesival DŽpayz'arts / Fontainebleau 31/12/2009Alternatively you can head down to Marseille for a what sounds like a magical evening ‘Le Vieux Port Entre Flammes et Flots’ when the Vieux Port will be illuminated with 6000 torches, lights and candles in different formations.  Apparently you can walk literally right round the Vieux Port as the right and left banks will be joined by a floating illuminated jetty!  Friday and Saturday from 20.30 onwards.  They advise everyone to use public transport.  Details here:


And finally – markets on Sunday. There’s antiques and brocante in the place de Verdun,  jewellery in the cours Mirabeau (Les Bijoux d’Aix) and old books in the place de l’Hotel de Ville.

Lots to do and enjoy!

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Here’s the latest on getting around town.

navetteThe navette to Pointe-Rouge is back in service after the winter break.  It goes daily, on the hour, from the Quai des Belges (same as the boats to Frioul) and costs 3€ each way.  The journey takes 40 mins each way, and if you are just doing it for a boat-ride, you have to get off at Pointe-Rouge while the driver has  his cigarette, and then get back on again when it departs, on the hour.  Or you can take a picnic to the beach and pick up a later shuttle. What a bargain! I read that last year, its first year in service, it had double the expected number of punters so there may well be queues, as indeed there were when I went on it. Not surprising – it’s a really scenic trip. The new navette service to l’Estaque starts on April 13th.  Note that they don’t operate if the weather conditions are adverse. 

In the Vieux Port, the solar-powered ferry has gone and is being replaced by the reconditioned old favourite the César.  This takes people across the VP from outside the Hotel de Ville.  I think the solar ferry is going to be used in the docks area but I don’t have this info yet.

Further up the Quai du Port is the new terminus for le Petit Train.  petit-trainThis is operating daily 10-12, 14-16.  It goes up to Notre Dame de la Garde where there is a 30 minute stop then it takes visitors a picturesque way back along the coast and over the little inlets like the pretty Anse des Auffes.  It’s 7€ for adults 4€ for children.  The Petit Train service through the Panier starts next month.  There is also an electric bus service which runs around the VP and costs 50 centimes.

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If you are in Marseille today, lucky you!  There is to be a grand opening of the Vieux Port and the new l’Ombriere with lots of music, entertainment, food….I particularly like the sound of the ‘piano sur l’eau’ and the ‘fanfare a roulettes’.  I have just read about this in La Provence which posted the story last night at 19:47.  No advanced warning that I’ve seen – and I checked the MP2013 site a couple of days ago.

projet_ombriere_vieux_port_marseille_2It all sounds great fun – what a shame they don’t communicate these things – or did I miss something?

Here is the article from La Provence: http://www.laprovence.com/article/actualites/2233907/a-marseille-lesplanade-du-vieux-port-attend-son-premier-rendez-vous-cultu

Please email aixcentric@yahoo.co.uk if you see any good upcoming events!

Have a good weekend.

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Fascinating reading this morning on the great success of the new ‘bateaux bus’ service linking the Vieux Port with Pointe Rouge.  By the end of August, more than 244,400 passengers had used it, that’s 1400 a day, twice as many as forecast.  97% of users were satisfied and they discovered that the passengers were 70% locals.


But the service ends on Sunday and won’t restart til 1st March!

The president of MPM says that although it has been ‘un véritable succes’, the possibility of bad weather rules out a winter service.  It does seem a shame to stop the boats, especially as travelling by road in Marseille at the moment is so congested.

However next year will see an additional service linking the Vieux Port with L’Estaque – 13 departures a day from 1st May.  This will be a 40 min journey.

Meanwhile César, the famous old ferry boat which plied for 50 years across the port is to come back into service.  It’s had a big revamp and has been in use recently in the local filming of Marius, Fanny and César, the Pagnol trilogy directed by Daniel Auteuil.

It will return to its traditional route between the mairie and the places aux Huiles. The new solar-powered boat which I have to say I found rather swish will have some damage repaired and then be used to take people around to the new museum MUCEM which will open next year.

The pedestrianisation of the Vieux Port area is coming on a pace, causing a fair amount of chaos, but from what I could see through the fence, the paving looks elegant and I should think it will be a wonderful open space for us all to enjoy!



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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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News last night that they found another two bombs next to the Mucem site but these were quickly removed – it really is amazing that these have been lying there for nearly 70 years.  Meanwhile the redevelopment of the Vieux Port area has begun.  Once all the traffic has been diverted and the area cleared, they say we will have one of Europe’s largest pedestrianised squares.

Foster and Partners won the competition to do the redesign – Lord Foster was responsible for the stunning Millau Bridge, the Carré d’Art at Nimes and the courtyard at the British Museum – so I expect it will look pretty special.

I think the town needs a facelift and this was brought home very clearly when I visited the Joseph Garibaldi expo ‘Le Midi Paisible’ at Fondation Regards de Provence.  I hadn’t heard of this artist who was born in Marseille and painted in the area all his life.  He loved the south of France and faithfully recorded what he saw – the coast, inland villages, landscapes.  But most of all, he loved the Vieux Port where he had his studio.  His paintings of the ships (amazingly accurate rigging and masts – no wobbles…), the buildings and the luminous skies are a hommage to the city of his birth.

His life 1863-1941 ran in parallel to Impressionism, Fauvism, Cubism – but he seems to have ignored it all and painted serenely on, in his own style.

I really enjoyed discovering an artist who deserves to be better known, especially locally.  This gallery specialises in Provencal painters and, next January, will be moving to a newly renovated building (formerly the station sanitaire maritime) where it will have space to show its permanent collection as well as having temporary exhibitions.  This will be part of the newly scrubbed-up docks area – bombs withstanding!

Coming out into the graffitied streets with cars parked on the pavements was a culture shock – I know Marseille will never be neat and tidy – and probably never was, even when Garibaldi was painting – but I think the clearing and development of the public spaceshas been long-overdue and will be a great plus for the city in its big year in 2013.

Now for a snack and I thank Juliet for a list of recommended cafés from Elle magazine.  These are all places where you can drop in for a bit of sustenance without sitting down for a 2-hour 3-course eye-wateringly expensive lunch.  They all serve up good soups and bio salads – the list is here: http://vegetarianprovence.wordpress.com/  I tried out the Green Bear Coffee which is right next to the Vieux Port.  It’s a friendly little café – not particularly atmospheric – but they have very good soups at just over 4€, fresh sandwiches and their dish of the day was vegetarian couscous at 6,80€.http://www.greenbearcoffee.com/Green_Bear_Coffee/Home.html

More details on the Vieux Port redevelopment and changes to traffic flows are on www.vieuxportdemarseille.fr

Somehow I think Joseph Garibaldi would have approved!



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Three new things to report in Marseille. Firstly the Batobus.  This service from the Vieux Port along to Pointe Rouge is designed to divert some of the traffic away from the Corniche.

It will take 30-40 minutes, with 13 in each direction each day, 07:00-19:00hrs.  The boats which will be a little like the Frioul navettes (right) will take 100 people.  The journey will be free for Transpass holders or 2,5€ each way.

Problems cited have been the lack of parking at Pointe Rouge and also the Mistral which might turn a commute into a queasy experience.  But apparently the Frioul boats have only been cancelled 70 times out of 5959 crossings and at least this one is closer into land. I should imagine it will be popular with tourists wanting to go down to the beaches in summer.

Secondly, there is an exhibition of paintings at the Vieille Charité called Marseille en Peinture which celebrates the town and the 100th anniversary of the Comité du Vieux-Marseille who are dedicated to preserving the patrimoine. 10:00-18:00, daily exc. Mondays.

And finally – and not before time – there is a really good website to help us know what is going on in Marseille.  It’s colourful, clearly laid out and (for now) up-to-date.  When I saw the launch on the local news they said that there was an English version but it must be well-hidden – I couldn’t find it – perhaps it will come online at some point.  The new site is on www.culture.marseille.fr.


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The  programme for next year’s Marseille Provence Year of Culture looks amazing!

The opening weekend, January 12-13th, sees the unveiling of contemporary art installations in key locations of  Aix, an evening festival in Marseille with light shows along the coast and pyrotechnic displays on the Rhone at Arles.  And over our heads will be the Patrouille de France performing a new aerial ballet.  January and February will bring circus performances and lots of street activity for the young: hip-hop, electro, BMX, skateboarding.  There will be art in the shop windows, film festivals and even a new 250km hiking trail right around the region, to be called the GR2013.

Several new museums will be opening in Marseille around a completely renovated docks area and the Vieux Port pedestrianisation and spruce-up by Norman Foster should be complete. 

More soberly, the camp at Les Milles will be ready  to commemorate the 10,000 people interned there, and there will be memoires of other migrations: Armenian, Mahgrebian, Roma.  There will be an expo on the Panier clearances and  a virtual museum on the resistance in Provence.

June will see an explosion of art with: Rodin at Arles, Dufy at Martigues and a blockbuster exhibition on painting in Provence split between the musée des Beaux Arts in Marseille (Van Gogh a Bonnard) and the Granet in Aix (Cézanne a Matisse) with over a hundred paintings at each.  Christian Lacroix is curating a show at the Abbaye de Montmajeur and there will be a special exhibition in Cassis of painting done there by major artists.  Aubagne, historically a centre for pottery, will be showing ceramics by Picasso.

The lives of ordinary people will be captured by a ‘Grand Album d’Images’ and you can even upload your photo on to the MP2013 website to be illuminated on to one of the buildings if you want your 15 minutes of fame!

There will be lots of activity right across the region (see the map)  from village to village – even Martigues is organising a light-show on all the big industrial sites nearby.

The website www.mp2013.fr has the entire 207-page catalogue online which you can click through and read or download.  I popped into the tourist office in Aix yesterday to pick up a copy but – none available!  What was I thinking?


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