10 Unmissable Events In Marseille-Provence: European Capital Of Culture 2013

Andrew Kingsford-Smith

Marseille-Provence, along with Košice in Slovakia, has been named European Capital of Culture for 2013. With hundreds of unique events to be held throughout the year, planning when to travel to the beautiful south of France is a perplexing issue. To help those who are planning on making this exciting journey, we investigate the festival, revealing a number of standout events yet to be held, as well as taking a look back at those that have since passed.
© Jddmano/Wikicommons
The European Capital of Culture is a unique year-long programme of events that draws global attention to the selected cities. Renowned not only as a celebration of European culture, the event has been proven to create strong links between artists, organisations, cities and countries, and has been successful in helping to develop the cities involved. The two culture capitals chosen in 2013 are Marseille and Košice, however this year is unique in that the events for the former will occur throughout region of Provence.
Marseille-Provence will therefore host hundreds of incredible events throughout the year, ranging from art exhibitions, film festivals, dance performances, literature celebrations, artistic hikes, architecture projects and so much more. The festival has been sectioned into three ‘episodes’ that will explore the culture of the area and of Europe in exciting and distinct ways. To follow suit and to highlight the festival’s impressive diversity, we have selected our list from events in each episode and also from the vast spectrum of event types.

1) Marseille Provence Welcome to the World

The Treasury of Marseille 500 BC: Marseille’s Splendour in Delphi

12 January – 15 April

For the first time in its history, the Musée d’Archéologie will put the contents of its ancient treasury on display. Consecrated 2500 years ago by the residents of Massalia, the artefacts that will be shown have been considered national treasures in Greece. With the presentation of these relics, the ancient building of the treasury will also be reconstructed with the use of 3D technology, allowing visitors the sensation of traveling back in time. History enthusiasts will marvel at a number of the relics that have never been on display outside of Greece. This historically significant exhibition will be set in the Centre de la Vieille Charité, a structure with its own rich and compelling narrative.

GR 2013

From March

This ongoing event unites hiking and art. Utilising the large area that is included in the Marseille-Provence European Capital of Culture, walking artists have created inspiring hiking trails that can be taken by visitors. These trails not only highlight the vast natural beauty of the region, but also explore the rich history and culture that can be found throughout. The walks will take visitors to areas such as Côte Bleue, a city that surrounds the national park with a fascinating 1000-year history, and the area encompassing Etang de Berre and the Etoile Mountains, which is full of stunning metropolitan and natural areas. Led by walking artists themselves, the creative treks have been curated to celebrate hiking, nature, art and culture.

2013 In the Mediterranean, Our Futures!

15 June – 28 September

This event is fittingly set in the Villa Méditerranée in Marseille, also known as the International Centre for Dialogue and Exchange in the Mediterranean. The exhibition will explore the future of the region, focusing on the idea that we must take control of how the area progresses and builds. The event will feature performers and artists from Marseille, Beirut, Izmir and other cities. Issues such as the economy, governance, the environment and demographics will be explored through artwork, installations, dance and other performance styles. Promising to be thought evoking, this event aims to act as a catalyst for both discussion and action.

2) Marseille Provence Open Sky


March – October

Transhumance is a radical project that will explore migration, memory, mobility and multiplicity. The project will be broken up into three sections.
The Transhumance Experience (18 May – 9 June): This experience will gather travelers from all over to walk or ride on horseback across Provence with hundreds of other pilgrims and animals. Promised to be a poetic and philosophical experience, this journey hopes to break down all barriers through travel.

TransHumance Transmedia (March): This element of the project invited people around the world to interact and submit work online, allowing the project to connect with the entire globe.

An Observatory at the edge of the world (June to October): This will not only be an exhibition of the photos, videos and installations that were created throughout the project, it will also be a forum for ideas and experiences to be exchanged and discussed between people from all walks of life.

Le Grand Atelier du Midi13 June – 13 October

This twin exhibition will bring together over 200 masterpieces and aims to portray the progression of art from 1880 – 1960. The showing was inspired by the history of the region and the effect that the beautiful area has had on many artists. The artworks presented will highlight the major artistic movements such as Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Fauvism, Cubism, Surrealism, and Abstraction. Featuring the work of many great artists, this colossal display of work will be broken up into two exhibitions, ‘Van Gogh to Bonnard’ at the Museum of Fine Arts Palais Long Champ in Marseille, and ‘From Cézanne to Matisse’ at the Musée Granet in Aix-en-Provence.

Festival d’Architecture Experimentale


This annual festival is organised by Bellastock and is a unique architectural event that connects talented emerging architects and local residents. The event brings hundreds of students from architecture schools around Europe and gives them the challenge of creating a temporary town that will fulfill the needs of the local inhabitants. This year the town involved will be Vitrolles, located in the metropolitan triangle of Marseille, Aix-en-Provence and Salon-de-Provence. The Festival d’Architecture Experimentale aims to push the boundaries of architecture and to support both the participating students and the towns that they visit.

Festival International de Musique de Salon de Provence : Musique à l’Empéri28 July – 8 August

Set in the 9th Century castle Château de l’Empéri, the 21st international music festival in Salon-de-Provence will be presenting a series of unforgettable concerts. This festival will unite some of the greatest musicians in the world to perform classical music in this breathtaking environment. Performers include Éric le Sage, Emmanel Pahud, Paul Meyer and many more soloists that come from backgrounds such as the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, the London Symphony Orchestra and the Opére de Paris. Through the inspirational setting and list of talented musicians, these concerts will take the audience on journeys lived, dreamed and imagined.

3) Marseille Provence Land of a Thousand Faces

Cuisines en Friche 11-15 September

This 5-day festival will celebrate and examine the intriguing relationship between art and food. At the center of the festival will be large farmers markets, where visitors can buy fresh produce of fruit, vegetables, meats, cheeses and much more. A range of culinary experiences will also be involved, ranging from delicious street food to Mediterranean meals made by renowned chefs in various unusual venues. Along side these experiences will be displays of performance art, readings, culinary concerts, film screenings, etc. All of these events will combine together in La Friche for an overwhelming and joyful bombardment on the senses.

Metamorphoses — Playing with the City 20 September – 6 October

With the goal of revolutionising the way we look and interact with cities, this event will transform Marseille into a giant playground. Led by the composer and director of Lieux Publics, Pierre Sauvageot, and initiated by artists from all over Europe, Metamorphoses hopes to change the meaning of a metropolis. Through installations and performances, building facades will become fun-house mirrors; markets, fountains and staircases will morph into ballroom floors; and roads and streets will melt into musical scores and galleries. Described as a ‘new urban art form,’ Metamorphoses is an event not to be missed.

Writers of Reality 17 – 20 October

An event that not only investigates realities created through writing but also the reality of writing itself, this celebration of words will bring together a number of authors and artists. This series will consist of literary affairs such as interviews and readings, and will also include some events with unexpected twists: performances with a more visible and spectacular outlook on writing, and literary concerts that fuse music and the written word in their approach. Presenting authors from the Mediterranean, France and around the world, both renowned and emerging, Writers of Reality promises to be a captivating event for all book lovers.
By Andrew Kingsford-Smith
Images Courtesy: 1: Jddmano/WikiCommons, 2: The Treasury of Marseille/MP2013, 3: GR®2013/MP2013, 4: 2031 In the Mediterranean, Our Futures!/MP2013, 5: Transhumance/MP2013, 6: Le Grand Atelier du Midi/MP2013, 7: Quartiers créatifs/MP2013, 8: Festival International de Musique de Salon de Provence : Musique à l’Empéri/MP2013, 9: Le théâtre des cuisines/MP2013, 10: Métamorphoses, les artistes jouent avec la ville/MP2013, 11: Les écrivains du réel/MP2013

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