For this weekend tour inspired by contemporary art, start with a visit to the MAC, Marseille's museum of contemporary art. Next, go and soak up the unique atmosphere at the Friche Belle de Mai cultural complex. For lunch, fresh and creative cuisine awaits you at the Grandes Tables de la Friche. Then it's onwards to the FRAC before a visit to the library archives. On day two, make your way to Aix-en-Provence where exploring the Fondation Vasarely will take up most of your morning. At midday, your appetite will be pleasingly sated at La Pioline before you venture off to Arles to visit the Fondation Van Gogh, a gem of an arts institution.
Day 1 – Marseille: see 800 artworks at the MAC
69 Avenue D'Haïfa 13008 Marseille
Begin your tour in the 8th arrondissement, specifically at the MAC whose exhibits feature the quintessence of contemporary art since the 1950s. There are a number of artistic movements to discover, from Land Art to New Realism and Fluxus. Even the garden at the MAC is devoted to the arts with works by César, Fabrice Gygi and Julien Blaine dotted around the grounds. A visit bursting with colour!
Day 1 – Marseille, the Friche Belle de Mai
41 rue Jobin 13003 Marseille
Next on your itinerary is the Friche Belle de Mai. Set in an old tobacco factory, this cultural complex today hosts over 500 artists. The centre is made up of the Tour Panorama where exhibitions are held, a skate park, a theatre, a concert hall and gardens. An extraordinary town within a town spread over 45,000 square metres! When the sun is out, head straight to the top to have a drink on the roof terrace.
Day 1 – Marseille: Bouches-du-Rhône's departmental library archives
18 Rue Mirès 13003 Marseille
The region's departmental archives or ABD occupy an ultra-modern building between the Joliette Docks and the Docks du Sud. The huge open square and sweeping garden at this city district in the throes of redevelopment are ideal to find some peace and quiet away from the hustle and bustle. There's always some concert, exhibition or other to enjoy in this space spread over 28,000 square metres! Be sure to check out the programme.
Day 2 – Aix-en-Provence, Op art at the Fondation Vasarely
1 Avenue Marcel Pagnol CS 50490 13096 Aix-en-Provence
After a lazy morning, day two begins with a tour of the Fondation Vasarely where there is just as much to see outside as inside. This architectonic museum erected in 1976 is one of a kind and houses exhibits of monumental-in-scale artworks integrating kinetic art and optical art. Don't leave without visiting the gift shop where you can find numbered silk-screen prints, stylish homeware and artist prints.
Day 2 – A cultural lunch at Château de la Pioline
Château de la Pioline 260 Rue Guillaume du Vair La Pioline 13290 Aix-en-Provence
For your lunch in Aix, we recommend Pierre Reboul inside Château de la Pioline set in four hectares of grounds. You'll be in good hands with the Michelin-starred chef Pierre Reboul, known for his traditional yet inventive Provençal cuisine. There are four fixed-price menus to choose from or you can order à la carte. Whichever option you go for, you're promised a pleasantly surprising culinary experience. Plus the Louis 16th dining room brings a nice regal touch to your lunch.
Day 2 – Arles: Fondation Van Gogh, where heritage meets modern art
35ter Rue Dr Fanton 13200 Arles
After a delicious lunch, it's time to head to Arles. You can start the afternoon with a wander around the Fondation Van Gogh, a 16th century town house that was converted into a bank and later a museum. This is a wonderful opportunity to see many of the iconic painter's works and appreciate the influence he has had on other artists. This centre for artistic exchange, inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage List, features an eye-catching gate designed by the visual artist Bertrand Lavier and a roof installation imagined by Raphael Hefti.
- Meeting artists face to face in the studios at the Friche Belle de Mai
- Taking home a signed and numbered silk-screen print by Vasarely
- Packing such a rich and concentrated tour of the arts into a weekend
- Getting to explore Marseille's diverse and dynamic culture
The best time to visit
- In May for the Sm'art – the Mediterranean Contemporary and Abstract Art Fair
- Late August-early September for Art-o-Rama, the international contemporary art fair at the Friche
- Late November-early December to attend the short film festival 'Tous Courts' in Aix
By public transport, Personal vehicle
- Visited cities
All year round
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Marseille and the coast in a day
When you disembark for your stop in Marseille, you probably want to see the city centre and the coast? This itinerary takes you on a tour of essential Marseille in a day. You could spend the morning in the MuCEM, a museum dedicated to the history of Marseille since it was founded, set in a brand-new, stylish building. Before lunch, go for a stroll around the old Panier district en route to the Café des Épices. The afternoon will fly by as you visit the calanque in Port-Miou and go shopping in Cassis.
La Trévaresse, abbey and vineyards
The hills of La Trévaresse are an ideal destination for getting to know Bouches-du-Rhône, from its sacred heritage to its sacred vineyards. After tasting honey produced at Rucher Salonais, head to La Roque d’Anthéron where you can visit Silvacane Abbey and Sainte-Anne de Goiron Chapel. Stop for lunch at Mas de Jossyl and then walk it off around Beaulieu and Rognes châteaux. Château de Calavon is along the wine route and is well worth a detour before you visit picturesque Lambesc and end the day at the sumptuous Château de Beaupré.
Shopping in Cours Julien, Marseille by So Girly Blog
A delightful mix of street art and designer shops, you just can’t miss a visit to the Cours Julien! Workshops, boutiques and designer collectives blend into the arty confusion of this neighbourhood with its walls covered in street art. Drift through the Cours, discover its streets and fill yourself with Marseille culture, paintings, music and jewellery and don’t forget to stop for a snack!
Villages the world over envy us!
A gourmet treat…
Provence has been famed for its candied fruit from time immemorial. In the early 16th century, the region was fairly impoverished. Fruit grew here in abundance, but much of it was lost every year.
A fertile region with many local products and specialities
The Gourmet's New Eldorado
It had all but disappeared from the markets, but then – perhaps as a result of Halloween arriving in France – squash made a big comeback on our stalls just over a decade ago