With its grand baroque appearance with a triumphal arch, the Palais Longchamp was built to commemorate the creation of the River Durance aqueduct that brought much-needed fresh water to the city. The impressive stepped fountains that flow down from the center of the palace celebrate the importance of water to the city. The city’s natural history and art collections were moved to the palace when it opened in 1869. You can learn more about the palace and its museum collections as part of a guided city tour of Marseille.
Highlights of the Fine Arts Museum include works by Rubens, Courbet, Rodin, Millet and more, while the Natural History Museum is known for its extensive collection of taxidermy animals, some of which are more than 100 years old. Surrounding the palace, the spacious Parc Longchamp has charming ornamental gardens and plenty of shaded areas.
Things to know before you go
- The museums have limited wheelchair access.
- Access to the park is free, while you need a paid ticket to visit either of the museums.
- The Parc Longchamp once housed a zoo, and you can still see the pavilions where giraffes and elephants lived.
How to get there
The Palais Longchamp is located in Marseille’s 4th arrondissement. The closest metro station is Cinq Avenues-Longchamp, an easy ride from the main train station Gare Saint Charles or the old port, if you’re visiting the city as part of a cruise.
When to get there
The park is open every day of the week, all year round, although closing times vary throughout the year. It’s a great place for a picnic lunch or to relax after sightseeing. Check the online opening hours for the museums as they vary, with closures on certain public holidays and select weekdays.
Visit the Centre de Vieille Charité
Continue your exploration of Marseille’s museums at the Centre de Vieille Charité. The grand buildings with arched colonnades and the impressive baroque church with an oval dome were originally built as workhouses for the city’s poor. Nowadays, you’ll find the Museum of Mediterranean Archeology; the Museum of African, Oceanic and American Indian Art; and the Marseille International Poetry Centre here.
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- Marseille Museum of Natural History (Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle)
- La Canebiere
- Marseille History Museum (Musee d'Histoire)
- Maritime and Commercial Museum of Marseille (Musée de la Marine et de l'Economie de Marseille)
- Cantini Museum (Musée Cantini)
- Chateau d'If
- Old Port of Marseille (Vieux Port)
- Place aux Huiles
- Centre de la Vieille Charite
- Museum of Mediterranean Archaeology (Musée d’Archéologie Méditerranéenne)
- Museum of African, Oceanic and American-Indian Art (MAAOA)
- Fontaine Castellane
- Roman Docks Museum (Musée des Docks Romains)
- Marseille Cruise Port (Terminal Croisières Marseille)
- Marseille Cathedral (Cathédrale La Major)