Le Panier: The Basket of Marseille in Photos

Le Panier: The Basket of Marseille in Photos

According to our guide, back in the day, brothels operated from the top floors of the residences in Marseille’s Le Panier neighborhood. Before clients could go upstairs, they first had to place their payments in bread baskets that were lowered to the ground level by prostitutes; hence, how Le Panier (“The Basket”) got its name.

Such a raunchy introduction to such an utterly charming neighborhood, but I could care less. As we make our way up the same steep steps once climbed by drunken, burly sailors from nearby Vieux Port in search of their brothel of choice, I feel myself falling head over heels for Le Panier’s shadowy alleyways; clothes drying on lines; and brightly colored, graffiti-marked buildings with aged, wooden shutters.


Alleys with character and a local soap shop with a makeshift sink on the door
Alleys with character and a local soap shop with a makeshift sink on the door




Street art of Che and Dr. King, two of my heroes, on the right.


  We’re told that these days, Le Panier is a neighborhood of artists and students who rent the neighborhood’s cramped apartments. Thanks to government subsidies, owners are able to renovate residences that have otherwise fallen into disrepair.

On a small alley, there’s a variety of colorful art works on display with the B&B La Maison du Petit Canard at the end of the way.

    With cafés, boutiques, and restaurants all around, Le Panier is a self-contained part of the city.

  There’s a popular French soap opera called “Plus belle la vie” that’s set in a fictional city in Marseille called le Mistral, a city inspired by Le Panier. Although the show isn’t filmed in Le Panier, one of its sets is a replica of the Bar des 13 Coins.


Bar des 13 Coins on the left
Bar des 13 Coins on the left

We soon come to La Vieille Charité, a former homeless shelter marked by a beautiful inner courtyard full of growing olive trees. Today, this building is used as a cultural research center and museum that houses a variety of art from Africa, Oceania, and the Mediterranean.



As we make our way out of Le Panier, we come to Cathédrale Sainte-Marie-Majeure de Marseille, a Roman Catholic church and French national monument that’s one of the city’s distinctive sites.



Tell me, would you like to wander the alleys of Le Panier?

  • That is a very interesting history behind the name of the place. I like all you photos capturing the place, especially the makeshift sink and the door that says It’s Time to Dance. I think it’s wonderful that the government provides subsidies so that people can refurbish this area. Last of all, the stripes on that cathedral are a very intriguing design.

  • I absolutely love these pictures and this place. The narrow streets and balconies as well as colorful windows are just so charming!! Great job! XxX

    • Dana Carmel

      Thanks, Agness!

  • Looks like an interesting area to visit, the artworks, the narrow alleys, the museum, the cathedral and not forgetting the dubious basket that gave the area it’s name :).

    • Dana Carmel

      Lol. Yes, it’s an interesting and beautiful area of Marseille!

  • What an interesting area! I love all the little alley ways you discovered. It looks like you almost had the place to yourselves too. That bread basket story is so interesting. I’m fascinated by European churches and that cathedral is just stunning.

    • Dana Carmel

      You’re right – I didn’t see anyone else in Le Panier taking pics and whatnot, so I think we were the only tourists there. It was like having our own little slice of Marseille all to ourselves!

  • One of our favourite French cities. You’ve captured it so perfectly too. Really looking forward to returning and seeing it for ourselves again.

    • Dana Carmel

      Thanks for your comment! I definitely see why Marseille is one of your favorites in France. It’s a shame that so many people in other parts of France discouraged us from going. I think Marseille is a treasure, and I hope that you’ll get to return soon.

  • Yes!! I would love too! I absolutely adore Marseille and have been many times but I didn’t know about this place… Never even saw it! Thanks for the tip and inspiration… you made me want to go back there as soon as possible… One of the most inspiring cities by the sea, isn’t it?! I love how you choose your travel destinations by the way Dana… you always seem to make the right choices!

    • Dana Carmel

      Thanks, Thalia! You definitely have to visit Le Panier the next time you’re in Marseille. It makes me curious to explore more of the city’s other neighborhoods. Marseille has so many layers and I’d love to explore more one of these days.

  • What an interesting history! Did you see anyone–ahem–lowering a basket while you were there? 😀

    • Dana Carmel

      Ha! That would’ve been a picture perfect moment, especially if I was able to photograph the customer’s face as well – lol!

  • Looks like such an interesting city and so colourful, you’ve captured it really well!

    • Dana Carmel

      Thanks, Becky. Marseille and Le Panier are definitely full of color and charm!

  • You’re really a great photographer! The colors are beautiful and that blue sky helps too 😉

    • Dana Carmel

      Thanks, Lauren! 🙂

  • Love this post! You are making me want to go to Marseille soon.

    • Dana Carmel

      You definitely should, Monique! You could spend hours wandering through these alleyways.


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