The Harlequin show at the Children's Museum, MarseilleThe Préau des Accoules is a museum and exhibition space designed especially for children in a beautiful building in Marseille's Old Town: a former Jesuit college dating back to the 18th century.

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Each year the Préau hosts two temporary shows, accompanied by games and educational activities. These are aimed primarily at school groups.

But the museum is open to individual families at certain times, when there are guided visits and workshops. And you can also go round under your own steam if you prefer. Details below.

One of the nice things about Marseille's Children's Museum is that it often collaborates with the city's "grown-up" museums, revisiting their shows from a kid's point of view.

Its latest one is called Laid, beau, sublime? (Ugly, Beautiful, Sublime?) and introduces children to the question of taste.

It asks how do we judge what’s beautiful - and how do those judgements change depending on where and when we happen to live. The event borrows art works from Marseille’s museums and galleries and runs from 17 October-6 July 2019.

preau des accoules kidsThe previous exhibition, Si la Couleur m'était contée, explored the art and science of colour and before that was Un Siècle à croquer (A Delicious Century).

The century in question was the 18th one and the show was inspired by a concurrent exhibition at the Musée des Beaux Arts of paintings from that period.

So, as you can see, the Préau des Accoules takes on board some quite sophisticated philosophical ideas, but always in a playful and enjoyable way. Children are invited to immerse themselves in history through dressing up, games and other fun activities.

Certainly, whenever we've dropped by, they seemed to be having a whale of a time! Pictured above: kids discover 18th century Marseille with the help of maquettes, maps and model houses.

In recent years The Little Studio, or How to Paint the Sun (Le petit atelier ou comment peindre le soleil) was inspired by Le grand atelier du Midi, a two-part show at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Marseille, and the Musée Granet in Aix.

Other previous temporary exhibitions have covered everything from Roman amphorae, the history of coins and money, Scheherazade and her One Thousand and One Nights and Marseille soap to lucky charms around the world and harlequins (all displayed at kid's-eye-level, of course).

Another show included a display, on loan from the Musée Cantini, of child-friendly modern sculptures by Pablo Gargallo, Julio Gonzalez, Henri Laurens, Jean Arp, Roger Bissière, César Jean Amado and others. Pictured: Nana (1971) by Niki de Saint Phalle.

Nana by Niki de Saint PhalleBest of all, entrance to all this is free. The shows are designed to be suitable for children aged five upwards. Closed Sundays and Mondays.

Marseille's Children's Museum also holds workshops (in French) by prior arrangement. Check the museum website for details.

Where: Préau des Accoules, 29 montée des Accoules, 13002 Marseille. Tel: (+33) 4 91 91 52 06. The museum is on your left, a short walk up the hill from the Accoules church. Website for the Préau des Accoules (in French only).

How to get there: Metro (line 1, stop Vieux Port), then a short walk.

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