Palais du Pharo
According to local lore, a young Louis-Napoleon (nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte and soon to become Prince-President Napoleon III) visited Marseille in 1852 and liked it so much he instructed the Swiss-French architect Samuel Vaucher to find a suitable plot of land and build him a palace. Vaucher did as he was asked and designed the Palais du Pharo, a grand stately home and gardens on a promontory overlooking the Mediterranean.
Napoleon III died before he was able to take up residence, and his widow, the Empress Eugénie gave the palace to the city, who used the building as the university’s medical school. Nowadays the palace acts as a conference venue and events center, hosting weddings, fairs, art exhibitions, and more. The adjacent gardens offer magnificent views over the city by the sea and are easy to reach as part of a guided bus or bike tour of the city.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The palace is only open to visitors who have tickets to an event.
- The gardens are open to the public all year round.
- There’s also an on-site cafe-restaurant, Le Chalet du Pharo.
- The palace, gardens, and restaurant are all wheelchair accessible.
How to Get There
The Palais du Pharo and its gardens are located in the west of Marseille city, at 58 Boulevard Charles Livon in the Saint-Victor district. You can get there as part of a bike or bus tour, or alternatively via car, taxi public bus (#81) or on a city bike-share bicycle.
When to Get There
Palace opening times vary depending on the event schedule in place, so check before visiting to see what’s on. The gardens are open all year, and Marseille’s mild Mediterranean climate means walking in the gardens is enjoyable no matter what the season.
Set Sail for the Calanques The coastline that surrounds Marseille is made up of hidden rocky swimming coves only accessible by boat or a steep hike across the cliffs. If you’re visiting in the warmer months you can join a guided boat tour to explore the different bays along the coast and swim, snorkel or simply sunbathe to your heart’s content.
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