Street art in the Cours Julien, MarseillePerched up on a hill, the hip Cours Julien district is beloved of Marseille's "bo-bo" (bourgeois-bohemian) community. It teems with bars, restaurants, theatres and shops with colourful, hand-painted façades. logoClick here to book a hotel in Marseille

L'Eléphant rose street art in Cours Julien Marseille

Among the hottest bars and restaurants on the Cours Ju, as locals call it: Oogie Lifestore at 55 cours Julien; WAAW (What An Amazing World) at 17 rue Pastoret; and La Cantinetta at 24 cours Julien.

Just up the road, the place Jean Jaurès at the top of the hill is also sometimes referred to as La Plaine and also has many interesting spots. Try the excellent real ales at the microbrewery and bar Bière de la Plaine or the super restaurant Lacaille, one of our current favourites in town.

For more information on events and the happening venues check the local association website, as well as our own guide to visiting Cours Julien with young children.

Meanwhile enjoy our own gallery of street art, photographed on mild early autumn days in 2010, and in 2017. But remember: since then many of these will have disappeared or been replaced by other, equally inventive images.

le mur marseille sept 2017In fact one project, Le M.U.R. Marseille, celebrates the "here today, gone tomorrow" nature of street art. A respected graffiti artist is regularly invited to decorate a 5 x 3 metre / 16 x 10 foot space on the outside wall of the bar at the corner of the rue Crudère and the Cours Julien.

His or her work remains on view for just one month, before it is replaced by a new piece. Pictured, the September 2017 image was created by Eddie Colla.

Started by an association called Juxtapoz, the concept has been on the go since 2012, and it's hoped to persuade more property owners to make their façades available for decoration.

On the other hand, here's a mural that's likely to stick around. Created in 1997 by the Franco-Swiss artist Thoma (sic) Vuille, Monsieur Chat is a bright yellow street art character with a wide Cheshire cat smile and angel's wings.

He has appeared all over the world, from the High Line Park in New York City to the Balkans, Tangiers, Tokyo and Vietnam. He also achieved worldwide fame, thanks to a 2004 film, The Case of the Grinning Cat, by the legendary cult director Chris Marker.

There are over 80 Monsieur Chats in Paris alone. In Marseille you'll find a dozen of them partying away merrily all over the two outer walls of the WAWW bar in rue Pastoret, pictured.

monsieur chat marseilleAnd, even if you can't make it to Marseille, there's a brilliant way to get a real flavour of the quarter: devised by Google, Night Walk in Marseille is an immersive and interactive guided tour through the Cours Julien on a late summer night.

It comes complete with sound and music effects and a (not too intrusive) poetic commentary, available in English or French.

Julie, your companion, takes you to 34 different spots, but, a little in the manner of Google Streetview, you can also pan around, look down side-streets or zoom in on interesting details. Click here to go on the Night Walk in Marseille.

"Tags" (graffiti simply involving an individual's or gang's name in giant letters) are illegal. But street art has now acquired a level of legitimacy and acclaim in Marseille - provided, of course, that the owner or tenant of the property agrees to it!

Guided tours of the latest work, including one aimed specifically at kids, are even offered by the Marseille Tourist Office.

If you are keen to see more street art in Marseille, there are a number of other places to check out. The Panier (Old Town) is a good place to start, though the art is less concentrated here than on the Cour Ju.

Behind Saint Charles train and bus station, the La Friche La Belle de Mai arts centre has a richly painted skateboarding park.

Further out of the centre, head over to the flea market area north of the city, where the Galerie Saint Laurent gallery specialises in street art and holds a large Marseille Street Art show with new works each summer.

And, if you have a car, take a little drive along the L2 Rocade, the ring road north of Marseille. Its slip roads are decorated with monumental scale frescos by some of the city's top street artists.

News for street art in MarseilleThe Cours Ju is getting even more colourful. A new project has been launched with a mighty, publicly funded budget of tens of thousands of €uros.

Around 30 young street artists are busy creating new frescos on streets and up to 200 shops in the area. Even the local underground car-park is transformed into a giant aquarium.

Shop owners and restaurants are enthusiastic, especially since it isn't costing them a penny. They are able to suggest ideas to the artists for the image to be painted on their businesses. Go up to the Cours Ju at night after the stores close if you want to see the artists at work.

How to get there: Metro (line 2, stop: Notre Dame du Mont).

Photo credits: all images © SJ for Marvellous Provence


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