Musée des Civilisations de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée

Musée des Civilisations de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée information

Marseille , France
1 esplanade du J4
+33 4 84 35 13 13
Getting there
Metro: Vieux Port or Joliette
More information
Fort St-Jean free, J4 adult/child €8/5
Opening hours
9am-8pm Jul & Aug, 11am-7pm Sep-Oct & May-Jul, 11am-6pm Nov-Apr
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The icon of the 'new' Marseille, this stunning museum is split across two dramatically contrasting sites, linked by a vertigo-inducing foot bridge. One one side is lumbering Fort St-Jean , founded in the 13th century by the Knights Hospitaller of St John of Jerusalem and rebuilt by Louis XIV in the 17th century; and on the other the contemporary J4 , a shoebox with breathtaking 'lace' skin designed by Algerian-born, Marseille-educated architect Rudi Ricciotti.

Ambling around the beautiful, cream-stone citadel commands no admission fee. Different views of the Mediterranean, streaked by boats sailing in and out of the Vieux Port, unfold from dozens of viewpoints, including the Chemin de Ronde (Parapet Walk) along the ramparts and atop the square Tour du Roi René, a defensive tower reached by a narrow staircase. The history of the fort is explained in the Salle du Corps de Garde (guardhouse room), and there are always a couple of temporary exhibitions.

Walking high above the sea from Fort St-Jean along the 115m-long 'flying carpet' footbridge to J4 (an abbreviation for its street address 'Joliette 4') feels like walking the plank. Views of the ferry port and striped facade of Cathédrale de la Major one direction and Vieux Port the other seriously distract. Inside J4 the Galerie de la Méditerranée explores the history, culture and civilisation of the Mediterranean region through anthropological and ethnographical exhibits, art works and film. Afterwards, from the musem's ground-floor ticketing hall, pick up the path that twists its way between the glass wall of the building and its outer lace shell for more staggering views of the Med from a very different perspective.