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In the 19th century in Marseille, there was a serious water issue which worsened with a cholera epidemic in 1835. Palais Longchamp was created to celebrate the construction of the Canal de Marseille, which was built to bring water from the Durance River to Marseille. The 85km canal excavation meant opening up the underground, building 18 aqueduct bridges, 10 years of hard work and the tenacity of certain politicians.
Learn About the History of Palais Longchamp
In 2013, Palais Longchamp renovated and reopened its left wing, where Museum of Fine Arts is located. The museum displays paintings, sculptures, and drawings from the 16th and 19th century. It is one of the oldest museum in Marseille as it was founded in 1801. However, you need to buy an extra ticket to enter this museum. The main stairs of the Fine Arts Museum are adorned by two large painting by Puvis de Cavannes, commissioned in 1867: Marseille, the Greek colony and Marseille, Gateway to the Orient. One of the best things to do at Palais Longchamp is to visit the Natural History Museum, which was opened in 1869. The museum houses 83,000 zoological specimens, 200, 000 botanical specimens, 81,000 fossils, and 8,000 mineral specimens. Take a tour at the four exhibitions areas: Salle safari (world fauna), Salle de Provence (regional fauna and flora), Salle d'ostéologie (comparative anatomy), and Salle de préhistoire, sur l'évolution (prehistory and revolution). There is an extra ticket needed to enter this museum.
The Observatorie is the oldest science establishment in Marseille. It was based on the Accoules before the Plateau Longchamp was built. It is now an instrument development laboratory and a data processing centre for the largest telescopes in the world and major space missions. In addition to its research, the Observatoire is open to the general public and schools with the association Andromède which regularly hosts activities to promote astronomy. The Observatoire also has an exhibition hall displaying antique instruments which the Patrimoine group presents to the general public and schools. You don't need to buy an extra ticket to enter this area.
Take a stroll at Longchamp Park which houses the famous fountain with sculptures of four large bulls and three women. The garden also includes an English landscape garden, with winding alleys and many notable trees, including a 150-year-old plane tree and an oak and a Siberian elm that are both 120 years old. You can enjoy fine views across Marseille from here, including the Notre-Dame de la Garde that can be glimpsed in a distance. There are plentiful places to picnic and several children's playground.
How to Get Tickets?
There is no admission fee to enter Palais Longchamp. You can have a picnic at the garden and take a tour to see the magnificent buildings from the outside for free. However, if you want to visit the museums you have to purchase the tickets on the spot. There are two museums with different tickets in the area. If you want to see both, it's better to buy a ticket for double entry ticket to both museums. However, if you want to save money but still want to visit the museums, the tickets are free for everybody on Sunday mornings.
How To Get Around?
You can pretty much walk everywhere since the Palais, Park, and Museums are located in one area. All areas are accessible by wheelchair and stroller for your convenience. Some areas may require tickets to enter.
What Should I Wear?
You can wear anything comfortable and appropriate to visit Palais Longchamp. One more thing to do at Palais Longchamp is to take selfie pictures, so make sure you wear something fashionable with some accessories to take beautiful pictures here. During summer, don't forget to bring sunglasses and sunscreen if you plan to picnic at the Park.
Best Time to Visit
The most popular time to visit is from June to September when the Mediterranean weather is at its best. Palais Longchamp can be pretty crowded at any given time (since the ticket is free), so make sure you wake up early in the morning to take nice pictures before the place is full with people. However, if you want to see the classic artsy French city, visit the park instead in the afternoon, when the artists can be heard and the sunset illuminates the sky.
Will I Need a Guide?
No, it's easy to find the way and you can find everything you need on this website.
How To Get There?
If you come from downtown Marseille, you can reach Palais Longchamp by walking. It's very easy to find as it is big and often crowded. Public transport is everywhere and you can easily take the bus to go there.