Street Art tour in Marseille with Arnaud


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Visite street art dans le Panier, à Marseille, en compagnie du graffeur Arnaud.
© Charlotte Cabon - Visite street art dans le Panier, à Marseille, en compagnie du graffeur Arnaud.

Reading time: 0 minPublished on 6 March 2024, updated on 2 May 2024

Street art landmark in Marseille, with Le Cours Julien and La Plaine, Le Panier neighborhood boasts wall frescoes, stencils, mosaics, totem papers and other posters. A colourful visit with an artist who is obsessed by his art.

From the window of his apartment at Le Panier, Arnaud was annoyed to hear uninitiated comments on the murals below him. So two years ago, this thirty-year-old graffiti artist decided to guide the curious people through the streets of the historic heart of Marseilles whose walls are as many canvas offered to street artists.

This Saturday morning, there are five of us to reach him on Villeneuve-Bargemon Square, near the town hall and Le Vieux Port. “Street art naturally took root in Marseilles in the 1980s with the advent of hip-hop culture and the emergence, in the following decade, of an artistic scene dominated by IAM and Fonky Family”, explains Arnaud who signs his works Asha.

Calligraffiti, stencil and flops

Rue Caisserie, in front of an organic restaurant with a superabundant fresco of vegetable inspiration as a store front, he reveals the behind-the-scenes of his art. For example, the play on speed and distance in the handling of the paint bomb to get different effects. The work that overflows the iron curtain is signed Nhobi, a Brazilian artist based in Marseilles, who will be found in other corners of Le Panier with saturated colors and simple and naive characters. Inside the restaurant, Arnaud continues his deciphering by presenting works of 'calligraffiti', a scholarly mixture of oriental-inspired calligraphy and graffiti.

Dans le Panier à Marseille, un portrait de femme signée Manyoly.
© Charlotte Cabon - Dans le Panier à Marseille, un portrait de femme signée Manyoly.

"Look up." Further down the street, at the corner of Place de Lenche bathed in the sun, Arnaud points to an Aztec dragon fixed in height. "This is the Quetzalcóatl of the graffiti artist Oré". We learn that it is a hook, a piece of wood cut out with a jiggy and painted saw.

Other techniques blossom on the surrounding walls: the stencil, with a face of General De Gaulle, a fetish figure of the graffiti artist Lillois Mister P. Further on, a hypnotic poster with a portrait of a woman in a whirlwind of colors, signed Manyoly, a painter who discovered street art in Marseilles.

An open air gallery

Through the climbs of Le Panier hill, the storefronts of shops, the narrow alleys or the large squares, the neighbourhood is an open gallery of urban art, full of eclectic pieces. With such collective works where we like to decipher the “flops” (these rounded letters, real stylistic devices), to perceive the hidden meaning of the works or to identify the style of the graffiti artists.

Une galerie à ciel ouvert

Au fil des montées à l’assaut de la colline du Panier, des devantures de boutiques, des ruelles étroites ou des grandes places, le quartier se révèle une galerie d’art urbain à ciel ouvert, truffée de pièces éclectiques. Avec des œuvres aussi collectives où l’on se plaît à déchiffrer les "flops" (ces lettres arrondies, véritables figures de style), percevoir le sens caché des œuvres ou identifier les pattes des graffeurs.

Entre deux saluts et échanges avec les gens du quartier, révélateurs d’un attachant côté village populaire, Arnaud poursuit ses explications. "On choisit un mur pour sa visibilité. Il devient un "hall of fame" lorsque plusieurs graffeurs y apposent leur marque." Cela pourrait devenir le cas des immenses façades de la place des Pistoles, traversée par la rue du petit Puits, déjà en soi un cabinet de curiosités avec ses nombreuses installations et ses totems en papier mâché.

Scène de pêche version street art, dans le Panier à Marseille.
© Charlotte Cabon - Scène de pêche version street art, dans le Panier à Marseille.

Between two salutes and exchanges with the people of the neighborhood, revealing an endearing side of a popular village, Arnaud continues his explanations. “You choose a wall for its visibility. It becomes a “hall of Fame” when several graffiti artists mark it. “This could become the case of the immense facade of the Place des Pistoles, crossed by the Rue du Petit Puits, already in itself a cabinet of curiosities with its numerous facilities and totems in papier-mâché.

Marseille, source of inspiration

Near La Vieille Charité, a former hospice with monumental architecture, there are side by side with huge colorful frescoes signed Gamo, Easy, Difuz, Nhobi and Seek 313. The last two graffiti makers have painted the Vieux-Port, Notre-Dame de la Garde and a Gouailleur gull and a sardine fisherman who is about to jump out of his barricaded boat. Marseille as a source of inspiration…

Want to try? Asha offers one-hour initiations at the end of his visits.

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The magazine of the destination unravels an unexpected France that revisits tradition and cultivates creativity. A France far beyond what you can imagine…