Marseille Provence - European Capital of Culture 2013

Information about Marseille's year as European Capital of Culture in 2013.

This page gives a summary of what's happening in Marseille during 2013. To see what's on now, visit our News Page or our Blog.

The Capital of Culture is not just the city of Marseille, it includes an area stretching from Martigues to La Ciotat and also includes Arles, Aix, Aubagne and other towns and villages in the area. We will focus on what is happening in Marseille city.

Pavilion MTo get an idea about the city of Marseille go to Pavilion M, a building of wood and glass in the Place Bargemon (metro line 1 to Vieux Port then on foot towards the Hotel de Ville). The Pavilion has exhibitions about the city, its people and what goes on here. On the upper floor, there is a tourist office where you can get information about capital of culture events.

Espace Culture at 42 Canebière is also a good source of information about what is going on in and around Marseille. You can buy tickets for events from both places.

We will also provide information here about 2013 OFF, the alternative festival.

Finally, if you are still stuck for ideas, try our What To Do Page.


Events that will take place throughout the year

The year as European Capital of Culture is year is split into three 'episodes' Episode 1: "Marseille Provence welcomes the world", from January to May 2013; Episode 2: "Marseille Provence under open skies", from May to September 2013 and Episode 3: "Marseille Provence - a Thousand Faces" from September to December 2013. There will be a host of events taking place throughout the year.

The opening weekend was a great success with hundreds of thousands of people taking part across the Marseille Provence area. We hope this is a taste of what's to come during the year. Throughout the year there will be circuses, new galleries and venues, exhibitions, street entertainment, open air concerts, street food, a new waymarked long distance walk (GR2013) and lots more.

  • Revelations

    Groupe F has created a project using their expertise with light, sound and fireworks. It's called Revelations and it's an epic saga that will be played out throughout the year in various coastal locations. If the opening episode in Arles on 13 January is anything to go by, it is not to be missed by any fireworks fan. Episode 2 is in Cassis on 18 May

  • Travelling screens

    This is a journey to discover the work of contemporary film makers. It will take place in various indoor and outdoor cinemas and will end in La Ciotat, the birthplace of film, at the end of the summer.

  • A Serialised Novel

    Every Friday La Marseillaise newspaper will publish weekly instalments of work produced by twelve authors who will take up residency in symbolic locations to create a serialised novel, "Mysteries of the Capital" made up of short stories that will create a portrait of the region.

  • True Tales of the Mediterranean

    The writer François Beaune has been collecting true stories from residents around the Mediterranean, in audio video and written form. You can find out more, and contribute your own true Mediterranean story on the website here.

It's a Euromediterranean project so will involve art and cultural activities from around Europe and the Mediterranean.


Episode 1: January to May "Marseille Provence welcomes the world"

The first episode builds on Marseille's reputation for hospitality and welcomes circus performers from around the globe. It also sees the opening of several new galleries and exhibitions.


Archaos CREAC

You may or may not know that Provence is already a base for circus companies such as Archaos, and every year there are circus performances in theatres and in the open air. This is not parading animals around a ring, this is real acrobatic, artistic, exciting human performance.

We are also promised lots of clowns and flash mobs and magic and surprises.


New Galleries and venues

Le Silo opened 2011

The SiloLe Silo is a new concert arena on the docks. It is, as the name suggests, a converted silo. Much of the original building has been retained so it's very impressive.

You'll find the programme on The Silo website


Villa Méditerranée open April 2013

Picture of the CeReM buildingVilla Mediterranée designed by the architect Stefano Boeri, is in the area known as J4, along the sea front between the Fort Saint Jean and the cathedral La Major. It has two main public areas, one under the sea and one in the air. It will house a permanent exhibition Parcours des Méditerranées (Mediterranean trails), where visitors will be able to "see and live" the experience of the Mediterranean. There are two temporary exhibitions starting on 9 April: "2031 The Mediterranean, our futures", and "Further than the Horizon". The programme is available from the Villa Méditerranée website.

J1 open 12 January to 18 May 2013 and 11 October to 12 January 2014

J1 BuildingA huge hangar situated in the old port area of Marseille, (metro line 2 or Tram line 2 to Joliette). On the quay the ferries will still operate. In the building above there is a huge space housing three galleries, a performance space and a bar/restaurant. It has fantastic views over the port. This is where many of the major events will take place in 2013. Entry to the building and some of the exhibitions is free. Entry to the main exhibition is 9€. J1 is open every day between noon and 6pm.


FRAC open March 2013

FRAC VisualisationFRAC (Fonds Régional de l'Art Contemporain) a home for contemporary art collections and an exhibition space at 10 Boulevard Dunkirk in the area known as Euromediterranée, where there has already been a lot of redevelopment. The building is designed by Kengo Kuma.


The Panorama open January 2013

Structure du PanoramaAn addition to the Friche de la Belle de Mai, an ex-tobacco factory that has been a community art and performance centre for some time, it is a new space for the presentation of contemporary art. It has a panoramic view over the city and 2400m2 of exhibition space.

The Friche will be host to many events during 2013, including theatre (featuring contemporary Arabic works), music, dance and l'art culinaire. You'll find the programme (in French) on the Friche website.



  • 23 March to 26 May

    "La Fabrique des possibles" an exhibition to celebrate the opening of FRAC, based around the meeting of science, mathematics and experimental art.
  • 15 February 19 May

    at the Musée Cantini, "Matta, Le Surréalisme et l'Histoire", a collection of over 60 works from French and International public and private collections.
  • 15June to 15 September

    at the Musée Cantini, "Picasso, Matisse Giacometti, Bacon", the gallery's collection.
  • March to September

    In the Parc du Pharo there is a monumental sculpture by Bernar Venet.
  • 16 to 18 May

    Printemps de l'Art Contemporain. You can choose from a number of contemporary art trails in different areas of the city.
  • 25 May to 20 October

    Le Pont (the bridge) "symbol of adventure and connections", an itinerary of contemporary art in 27 places around the city including the Musée d'Art Contemporain (MAC). It features the work of 155 international artists.
  • 18 June to 29 November

    Ici-Même, Marseille 1940-1944. An historical and documentary itinerary  featuring Marseille's role in the war and the resistance. Based in the municipal archives, 10 rue Clovis Hugues (metro Saint Charles) and you will find references to events throughout the city - look out for texts on pavements and walls.
  • 13 June to 13 October

    Le Grand Atelier du Midi. Described as THE exhibition of the summer, in partnership with the Musée Granet in Aix, the newly renovated Musée des Beaux Arts in the Palais Longchamp will show the works of Renoir, Gauguin, Cézanne, Monet, Modigliani, Picasso, Dali and many more.
  • 18 June to 5 January

    Lumières (Lights) at the Musée d'Histoire Naturelle in the Palais Longchamp. This exhibition brings together astronomy, biology and technology to show the role that light plays in our lives and the technologies that use it.


Episode 2: June, July and August "Marseille Provence under the open skies"

The second episode focuses on the open air, nature trails and open air concerts under the stars.

Transhumance 17 May to 9 June

One of the main events is the Transhumance, a voyage of people and animals from around the Mediterranean area into Marseille and Aubagne. It takes places in various places around the region between 17 May and 9 June. On 9 June the transhumance will cross Marseille. You can take part by hiring and riding a horse or by joining the events on foot and as a spectator. The details in English are on the MP2013 website, where you can download a programme (in French).

This is (not) music 25 May to 9 June

The Friche de la Belle de Mai hosts a festival of events around street art, skate boarding and alternative, underground culture. The programme (in French) is on the This is (not) music website.

Festival de Marseille 19 June to 12 July

This is a festival of dance and related arts with events taking place in various venues around the city. You can see the programme and buy tickets on the festival website.

Mucem open 7 June 2013

Mucem VisualisationA new national museum of European and Mediterranean civilizations, in and around the Fort Saint Jean on the Vieux Port.

This is a huge project, the building was designed by architect Rudy Ricciotti to house a national collection dedicated to the culture(s) of the Mediterranean.

Chateau Borély reopens 15 June

The chateau in the Parc Borély has undergone major renovation and will reopen as the Musée des Arts Décoratifs et de la Mode, exhibiting collections of decorative art, ceramics and fashion.


Episode 3: September to December "Marseille Provence - a Thousand Faces"

The final episode focuses on art, living together in public spaces and contemporary writing. It features some of the Mediterranean's most renowned artists and philosophers. We will add more details nearer the time.


Renovations and extensions

There are a number of existing buildings that are being renovated and extended in and around Marseille. These include:

  • The bastide in the Parc Borély

    A large house which will become a museum of decorative arts, as well as the museum of fashion (currently on the Canebière) and the ceramics museum (currently in the Parc Pastré). Due to open in June 2013.

  • The Musée des Beaux Arts

    Located in the Palais Longchamp, this is a very impressive building with its massive fountain at the entrance. The gallery is due to reopen in June 2013.

  • The Cité des arts de la rue

    A centre dedicated to street performance, which is in an old olive oil producing area known as Les Aygalades in the 15 arrondissement. It's a huge training area for artists and acrobats.