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Posts tagged ‘Cours Julien’

on loving the million colors and little phrases on the walls in marseille

La rue est un musée pour tous ! ―Hergé

People say graffiti is ugly, irresponsible and childish . . . but that’s only if it’s done properly. ―Banksy, Wall and Piece

The Museum is not meant either for the wanderer to see by accident or for the pilgrim to see with awe. It is meant for the mere slave of a routine of self-education to stuff himself with every sort of incongruous intellectual food in one indigestible meal. —G. K. Chesterton

Going inside, walking into a museum, intending to spend two hours, when the sun is shining, the air is warm, the world is teeming, seems wrong, an error.

Why would you want to go inside to an art exhibit? Will it change your perspective of the world? Will it make you happy? Will it inspire you? Will you learn something? Will you have a good time? Will it encourage conversation? Yes.

Imagine a city where graffiti wasn’t illegal, a city where everybody could draw whatever they liked. Where every street was awash with a million colours and little phrases. Where standing at a bus stop was never boring. A city that felt like a party where everyone was invited, not just the estate agents and barons of big business. Imagine a city like that and stop leaning against the wall–it’s wet. –Banksy

What to do when you visit a place where the sun shines daily and you dread going inside? Yet you want to change your perspective of the world and you want something to make you happy and inspire you and maybe help you learn something? And you want to have a good time and talk to someone about what you experience?  (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.) But wait, there’s more!

o! cours julien, how do i love thee? or on love at first sight

Some years ago when I had visited Marseille for the first time, I happened on Cours Julien. It is in all the guide books on Marseille, and if it is not, I would throw away the book. I had not been to the Office de Tourisme nor had I consulted a Fodors Travel Guide or a Michelin Guide Vert. I had simply wondered about and walked up a street that looked interesting and found myself in Cours Julien.

Ça a été le coup de foudre. It was love at first sight. Je avais tombé amoureux de Cours Julien. OK, maybe, just maybe, I am exaggerating a bit. Let’s say, j’étais en plein de joie de vivre when I saw Cours Julien for the first time. Since then I have returned several times.

Since that first visit, I have looked at guide books and have spoken to people in the tourist office and to the French friends who know Marseille. All tell me that Cours Julien is wonderful, and that it would be a shame not to explore it and the colorful streets that are perpendicular to it.

There is an adventurous way and a less complicated way to walk from the Vieux Port to Cours Julien. The less interesting route is from the Vieux Port up La Canebière, the large boulevard that cuts northeast through the old quarter. Go as far as Boulevard Garibaldi, where you will turn right for a short distance, and then veer left on rue des Trois Mages and soon you will see streets for Cours Julien on the right. You will walk up a short hill. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.) But wait, there’s more!

wall art on back streets in marseille

Graffiti can be a scourge on a city. Tagging claims territory and has little to offer except a language for those who know its vocabulary. It is defacing.

A big disappointment, because I did not expect its prevalence,  when riding the train from Charles DeGaulle Airport to Paris, was the preponderance of graffiti on public and private buildings and on any space of any surface. It was everywhere.

Graffiti can seem crude and threatening when compared to public art, such as the sculptures in public squares and the paintings hung on walls inside and outside of buildings.

I compare most graffiti to a dog lifting his leg and peeing, marking.

However, as I noted on another occasion, graffiti and wall art can be very beautiful. Once I spent a day in the 13th arrondissement in Paris, looking at the graffiti and wall art on rue des Frigos. It is worth a visit although out of the way for most tourists.


What is the difference between wall art and graffiti? Wall art seems to entail images of faces and bodies and looks more like a large painting. Words and letters seem to appear less often than in graffiti. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail.) But wait, there’s more!