Le Panier is a labyrinth of shuttered houses peering over narrow cobblestone streets, stairways, and tiny squares. It is the historic heart of Marseille that has been left decayed and neglected. Today, it is the main focus of the city’s efforts at urban renewal. The neighborhoods are fun to stroll and wander around, especially along Rue des Muettes, Rue du Panier, Rue du Petits-Puits, and the montée des Accoules.
The center of the Le Panier district is at its hilltop, where you’ll find a grand ensemble of 17th and 18th century architecture at the Centre de la Vieille Charité. This is Le Panier’s main attraction and used to serve as a workhouse and charity hospice. The complex houses two museums: the Musée d’Archéologie Méditerranéenne (Museum of Mediterranean Archaeology) and the Musée d’Arts Africains, Océaniens, et Amérindiens. The former has a collection of artifacts, statues, and pottery from classical Mediterranean civilization as well as an Egyptian collection considered second in France only to the Louvre; it has interesting treasures like mummies, tombs, and hieroglyphs. The latter museum, the Musée d’Arts Africains, Océaniens, et Amérindiens, features African, Oceanic, and American Indian art as well as various items like sculptures and masks.
In Le Panier you’ll also find the gigantic 19th century neo-Byzantine Cathédrale de la Nouvelle Major. This church when it was built partially destroyed the 11th century original that was on the site. Today, part of the church is lavish with marble inlays while the other part is older and more medieval – this section has been restored recently.
Centre de la Vieille Charité
Musée d’Archéologie Méditerranéenne
Musée d’Arts Africains, Océaniens, et Amérindiens
Cathédrale de la Nouvelle Major