The Palais de la Bourse
It is a building symbolizing the growth of Marseille in the 19th century, thanks to trade's expansion. In 1834, given the small size of its premises compared to the increasing activity, the Chamber of Commerce decided to set up a new stock exchange, which would be both larger and more in line with Marseille's status and its privileged commercial position. The definitive location was debated fiercely by the various parties, and it is finally La Canebière that was chosen as "the point where the two halves of the city come together". Located in the 1st arrondissement of the Phocaean City, you will not be able to miss it when you visit the Old Port. It testifies to the treasures of Marseille's history and we invite you to visit it if you come to Marseille.
Symbol of the Second Empire splendour
The architect Pascal Coste drew the plans in 1849 and the work began in 1852. The building construction had to face some difficulties due to the nature of the soil, which is quite clayey. Once the problem resolved, construction could begin. The inauguration was held in 1860, in the presence of Napoleon III and Princess Eugenie, the Palais de la Bourse is the perfect embodiment of the Second Empire style in France. However, it took nearly 20 years for all the finishes to be completed. Its construction marks the starting point of the great wave of public building construction in Marseille in the middle of the 19th century. The architect behind the project, Pascal Coste, considered it to be the masterpiece of his career. To do this, he hired the most talented painters and sculptors of the time, including Auguste Ottin, Armand Toussant and Eugène Guillaume, nicknamed the three "Grand Prix de Rome".
The Palais de la Bourse has a rectangular shape of 47 metres in front, 68 metres deep and 30 metres high. In other words, the dimensions are imposing and monumental. The façade pays homage to famous explorers such as Cook, Magellan, Colomb, Gama, La Pérouse... The sculpture at the top evokes Marseille's emblems and the elongated figures represent the ocean and the Mediterranean. On each side of the sculptures represent the two Phocaean navigators Euthymen and Pythéas. The clock in the pediment is the work of Henry Lepaute, the Emperor's and Paris' watchmaker. There are naturally allegories of navigation and trade. The building was damaged during World War II by military shells but also by fire and flooding in 1944.
Visit of the Palais de la Bourse
The interior is also worth a visit, it would be an offence to stop at the doors of this building, which contains a large exhibition hall of over 1,000 m², richly paved with marble and decorated. There are eighteen arcades and ten magnificent panels in relief representing the great hours of the city's history. Thus, the " foundation of Marseille ", " Marseille becoming Christian " and " the chamber of commerce receiving the plans of the stock exchange " are represented. Conquests, victories and scientific expeditions are also recorded. In the arcades we still find a reference to trade. These contain the names of the city's business partners, i.e.: Portugal, Egypt, Tunis, Indochina...
Even today, the Chamber of Commerce is still there, and it is the oldest in France! The right part of the ground floor is dedicated to the Marine Museum since 1946, which regularly organizes exhibitions, but also the Economy Museum.
For those who wish to visit Marseille without taking the car or public transport, why not opt for bike rental or segway rental? The Petit train de Marseille on the Vieux POrt is also an excellent way to discover the city while entertaining the youngest.
Finally, remember to take your tickets for the visit of the monuments at the ticket office in order to avoid waiting in line.