Marseille: N-D de la Garde

Nôtre Dame de la Gard and the Rive Neuve

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The Rive Neuve on the southern side of the Vieux Port is dominated by the massive Romano-Byzantine Basilica of Nôtre-Dame-du-Gard complete with its belfry and the 11.2m/27ft gilt statue of the Virgin.

The church was constructed by the architect Henri-Jacques Espérandieu to replace the original Nôtre-Dame built in 1214, although the site had in the meantime been a fort.

The new Basilica consecrated in 1864 is regarded as the guardian of the city and is known locally as La Bonne Mére. It is at once a landmark, a symbol of Marseille and a lighthouse which can be seen for miles around including all parts of the city. The Byzantine interior (see image) is just as striking and should not be missed.

Also on the Rive Neuve is the Basilique St Victor once part of an Abbey founded in the 5th century. There are catacombs and a crypt buried under the 11th century church which are well worth visiting in order to see the early Christian artefacts.

To round off your visit to Rive Neuve don’t miss the place Thiars which has an excellent selection of bars and restaurants.

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