The leading lights in architecture
For your architecture-themed day, this tour will show you buildings and works designed by leading lights including Jean Nouvel, Franck Gehry, Rudy Ricciotti, Stefano Boeri, Le Corbusier, Kengo Kuma, Pouillon, Vasarely, Tadao Endo and others. It will take you to the MuCEM and its amazing footbridge before you get to visit the Villa Méditerranée that is half suspended over the Mediterranean Sea. When lunchtime arrives, we suggest you head to Le Ventre de l’Architecte (literally 'the architect's belly'!) in the Cité Radieuse designed by the great Le Corbusier. The FRAC and its fascinating façade is the next stop on the tour. The Regards de Provence Museum is an example of a very successful restoration while the luminescent modular components which make up the Fondation Vasarely are simply mesmerising. Lastly, conclude your tour at Château La Coste, where architecture meets wine.
Rudy Ricciotti in Marseille at the MUCEM
7 promenade Robert Laffont 13002 Marseille
Begin your 'architect-tour' of Marseille at the MuCEM, built at the former J4 dock by the architect Rudy Ricciotti. Officially opened in 2013, the building has been globally recognised for its architecture that combines technological prowess and aesthetic clout: the elegant, concrete mesh exterior playfully reflects the sun while protecting the rooms inside. The artist also came up with the concept for the footbridge linking the museum and Tour Saint-Jean. Strolling around the Jardin des Migrations just next door is pleasantly relaxing after exploring the museum.
Le Corbusier in Marseille: Le Ventre de l’Architecte for lunch
La Cité Radieuse 280 boulevard Michelet 13008 Marseille
The theme of this tour even applies to lunch should you choose to find a table at Le Ventre de l'Architecte ('the architect's belly') (1 toque in the Gault & Millau guide and Tables 13 certified). Set in the Cité Radieuse built by Le Corbusier, the eatery is all light wood and grey marble with some exceptional accessories, including Le Corbusier lamps and Charlotte Perriand tables. The young chef Jérôme Caprin respects the essence of the place by imagining new and very successful culinary combinations. The view from the balcony is magnificent.
Kengo Kuma in Marseille with the FRAC
20 boulevard De Dunkerque 13002 Marseille
In the afternoon, set off to see the FRAC (the region's contemporary art collection), designed by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma in a triangular configuration built between 2008 and 2012. The building is made up of two segments: the main building and a tower. Its façade was created from recycled vitreous enamel which has made the FRAC instantly recognisable all over the world. Circulation within the building has been designed to be both vertical and horizontal which invites visitors to meander through the artworks at their leisure. In Marseille, contemporary art everywhere you look!
Pouillon & Guy Daher in Marseille with the Regards de Provence Museum
Avenue Vaudoyer Allées Regards de Provence 13002 Marseille
A short walk away from there, make your way to the Regards de Provence Museum. Once a maritime health clinic constructed in 1948 by the architects Champollion, Fernand Pouillon and René Egger, today the building is a museum dedicated to the visual arts from the 18th century to the present day. For the occasion of Marseille Provence's designation as the European Capital of Culture, the building was acquired by the Regards de Provence Foundation and restored by the architect Guy Daher. In the Salle des Etuves, videos and electronic displays retrace the history of the premises. Impressive stuff!
Vasarely in Aix-en-Provence with the Fondation Vasarely
CS 50490 1 avenue Marcel Pagnol 13096 Aix en Provence
Venture onwards to see the remarkable Fondation Vasarely inaugurated in 1976, the only architectonic centre of its kind in Provence. A blend of the visual arts and architecture, this Historic Monument comprises a series of modular, two-tone components with a glass façade that reflects the sun. This experimental building has become an architectural landmark in complete harmony with the monumental works created by Vasarely himself which can be seen inside.
Jean Nouvel, Franck Gehry and Tadao Ando in Puy-Sainte-Réparade: Château La Coste
2750 route De la Cride 13610 Le Puy Sainte Réparade
Bringing this fascinating architectural tour of Provence to a fitting conclusion, your last port of call is Château La Coste. Situated along the legendary wine route, the Château unites fine wines and great art on one estate. Its vast grounds feature works by a host of artists and architects such as Tadao Ando, Louise Bourgeois and Franck Gehry to name a few. With Jean Nouvel's production facility, the estate has also refined the wine-making process, much to the delight of wine lovers. A little wine tasting won't go amiss after your visit. And if you can't bear to leave, then why not spend the night in one of the hotel's suites?
- In Marseille, walking over a rather unique footbridge that is like a contemporary work of art in itself
- Taking advantage of a visit to Aix-en-Provence to catch a glimpse of the Pavillon Noir (Rudy Ricciotti), the Grand Théâtre de Provence (Vittorio Gregotti) and the Conservatoire (Kengo Kuma)
- Visiting sites that are worth a detour as much for what they look like outside as what they contain inside
- Seeing the traces architects have left on the Provence landscape through the centuries
The best time to visit
- In summer to attend the Jazz des 5 Continents Festival in Marseille
- In December to combine architectural attractions with Christmas festivities in Aix-en-Provence (evening events, concerts, the '13 desserts' market, the santon (figurines) fair, the 'marche des rois' celebrations, etc.)
By public transport, Personal vehicle
Aix en Provence, Marseille
Spring, Summer, Winter
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Pays salonais and its chateaux, heritage and wine
Pays Salonais makes a great family day out with plenty of fun and original things to do. After a deliciously simple lunch prepared by the chef at the Table du Roy, follow the road to the ruins of a village destroyed by an earthquake at the turn of the 20th century. In the afternoon, why not head to the zoo? It's the biggest one in the region and runs a programme to protect endangered species. Then make you way to the Marius Fabre Museum to learn all about how genuine Marseille soap is made.
Les Saintes-Maries by So Girly Blog
A seaside town, Saintes Maries de la Mer is the capital of the Camargue. A place of pilgrimage for the Gitane community, who come here on the 24th of May every year to pay their respects to Saint Sara the black. In the traditional streets, various boutiques sell locally made objects and charm stones, which make Saintes Maries de la Mer a mystical town.
Marseille, fish and other delights
It's worth taking the time to explore Marseille if you want to get to know the local flavours and authentic products that have put the city on the foodie map. For instance, you'll get to visit the traditional Four des Navettes bakery where they make small boat-shaped biscuits, 'navettes', a local speciality. At the Old Port, wander around the stalls at the fish market before finding a table at a restaurant that has signed the 'Bouillabaisse Charter' for a fantastic culinary experience. In the afternoon, stock up on the best products the land has to offer. Bring your gourmet tour of the city to a satisfying finish at Chez AM. Simply delicious!
Art de vivre
Translation our version of the Essex girl…
Provence is more than a simple destination, it's a whole way of life!
When a tourist comes to Marseille, one of the first things they have to eat is the local speciality: Pizza!
Celebrated at Candlemas, this traditional Provencal biscuit is also a popular sweet treat all year round