by Bert Schwarz

For many years Marseille had a serious image problem. Rejected because of its grotto-bad reputation, the decay of the city and the often alarming crime statistics, it was long the Black Sheep on the Provençal coast.

La Colle-sur-Loup

Story, Camera, Editor : Bert Schwarz

© travel-magazine TV 2020

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But while here it seemed rather bleak and not always pretty everywhere - which is not the case in Cannes or St. Tropez - Marseille today is a dynamic, edgy, bustling metropolis with more than 2,000 years of history.

Marseille © Bert Schwarz

And at the latest with the selection of the city for the European Capital of Culture in 2013, there were additional, elegant museums and since then the city radiates an unmistakable optimism, is clean and we found only with difficulty one or two corners, which were (still) a little bit fuzzy, but where no guest of the city (except of us) walks to.

Musée d'Histoire de Marseille

Marseille © Bert Schwarz

Founded in 1983, a stone's throw from the Old Port, the Marseille History Museum ( Musée d'Histoire de Marseille ) was completely renovated when it reopened in 2013. The new architecture recreates an intimate link between the city, its museum and the archaeological site. Its silkscreened glass façade is the setting for the entire Old Port site preserved in the garden, a real museum room open to the sky and leaning against the Stock Exchange Centre.

The building houses a 3,500 m² reference exhibition, temporary exhibition rooms, a workshop for students, an auditorium with 200 seats and a documentation centre with a graphics collection.

More than 2,600 years of history to go

The new museum circuit is based on two strong ideas: Marseille is the oldest city in France and is a port city open to the Mediterranean. From these two obvious points, the visitor discovers the history of the city through a maritime Ariadne's thread linking thirteen chronological sequences, from the first prehistoric occupations to contemporary urban developments.

Musée Regards de Provence

Marseille © Bert Schwarz

On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Foundation and the Association Regards de Provence, the Musée Regards de Provence devotes its rooms to the emblematic works corresponding to the major exhibitions that marked their 20 years of existance.

From 1998 to 2005, Regards de Provence was housed in the salons of Château Borély, then in the former salons of the Palais des Arts library from 2005 to 2012, and finally since March 2013 in the former maritime health station designed by Fernand Pouillon and renovated into a museum.

Château de La Buzine

Château de La Buzine is located in the heart of a valley between Saint-Menet and Les Camoins, in the 11th arrondissement of Marseille. It is to Henry de Buzens, the noble owner of the estate in the 17th century, that the estate owes its name.

Marcel Pagnol bought La Buzine in 1941. His project: to make it a Film City, and thus create a real "Hollywood Provençal". He recognizes the castle whose guardian and dog frightened his mother during his childhood on the way to the holidays.

After several years of abandonment, the City bought the Château and entrusted the renovation to the Stern International Architecture and Urban Planning Firm, which would bring it back to life, bringing tradition and modernity together in stone. Today, Château de La Buzine is a unique place in the regional cultural landscape, alive and open to all. In a vast four-hectare park surrounded by seven hills, Château de La Buzine becomes the face of the union between history and contemporary art, nature and heritage.

Château d'If

Of course we also visit the Château d'If. The place where the immortal novella of Alexandre Dumas takes place: The Count of Monte Christo.

Marseille © Bert Schwarz

This place has been renovated in recent years. There are very few places left on this island that are closed to visitors - because the restoration has not yet been completed.

But here comes our big "But...". In 2011, the work outside was still in its infancy and inside the cells were visibly old, gloomy, and we could understand the frustration of the Count of Monte Christo and the real prisoners - especially when the old town of Marseille shines through the small windows in the evening light. Now, during our new visit, we felt that the (renovated) cells had been neatly prepared for the next guest.

Too bad actually.