The Palais Longchamp was built in 1862 to celebrate the coming of la Durance waters in Marseille, 20 years earlier. An impressive monument of the city’s centre, the palace is easy to reach and offers the perfect settings for a walk. You can indeed discover its vast park which was once zoological gardens.
The architect Henry Espérandieu designed the plans of the Palais Longchamp, like those of Notre-Dame de la Garde and the Cathédrale de la Major. Construction works took about seven years and only ended in 1869 (due to financial problems).
The palace presents in its heart a gorgeous and famous fountain, a young lady surrounded by her girlfriends. At the back, children, sheaves of wheat and vines grapes symbolise fertility and abundance brought by the canal waters. The fountain is surrounded on each side by two large stairs that lead to the palace aisles.
In the right aisle you will find the Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle, in the left the Musée des Beaux-Arts. A colonnade connects both sides.
But it would be a mistake to judge the Palais Longchamp on this edifice only. The park around is beautiful and vast, with many gardens. « Le jardin du plateau », launched in the same time as the building, is a true garden « à la française ». The other garden located below is the perfect place to relax. Until 1987 it was Marseille zoo as cages and animals shelters left show. You can also visit the observatory, still in use, which processes data from world biggest telescopes.
Tips and anecdotes
The park offers children playgrounds and a “buvette” (a small café) in the old zoo. Five minutes walk from the city’s centre shops, we advise you to stop there for a break in the shade.
The Palais Longchamp is made of :
- the Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle and the Musée des Beaux-Arts
- Two gardens
- L’Observatoire de Haute Provence (observatory)
- A buvette in the old zoo
- children playgrounds
- a dog pen, following the park opening time
Boulevard du Jardin Zoologique, 13004 Marseille
- 1st of November to 14th of February:6am-5.30pm
- 15th to 28/29th of February: 6am-6.30pm
- 1st of March to 30th of April: 6am-7pm
- 1st of May to 31st of August: 6am-8pm
- 1st of September to the 14th of October: 6am-7pm
- From the 15th to the 31st October, 6am-6pm
Park: free access
Museums: ticket for both museums: full price 9€ / reduced price ticket 6€
Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle :
- Permanent exhibitions: full price 5€ / reduced price ticket 3€
- Permanent + special exhibitions: full price t8€ / reduced price ticket 5€
- Musée des Beaux-Arts : full price 5€ / reduced price ticket 3€
Free access to permanent exhibitions (of the two museums) every first Sunday of the month.
HOW TO GET THERE?
- Station Flammarion Montrichet
- Station Cinq Avenues Longchamp (line 1)
- Station Longchamp