LE MUSÉE DES BEAUX-ARTS, the Fine Art Museum, is the oldest museum in Marseille and is housed in the Palais Longchamp. Established in the 1800s, it houses a rich collection of paintings dating from the 16th to 19th centuries.
Whilst the paintings and masterpieces are exquisite, the building in which they sit is also worth a visit in its own right. The Palais Longchamp was constructed in 1869, as un château d’eau or a ‘water castle’, to celebrate the new canal that brought the waters of the Durance river to Marseille. Until this point, Marseille had been having problems with a constant water supply.
Behind the large and extravagant fountain, is a large park, once home to the botanical garden and a zoo. Whilst there are no longer any animals kept there, you can see many marseillais walking their dogs and taking a stroll among the ancient trees- some as old as 150 years!
In the heat of summer, this is a lovely place to relax and enjoy the peace of the garden. In some places, you can even look out across the city to the surrounding mountain ranges.