Marseille, France – May 22, 2014: A smoking man crouching and leaning to a wall on an alley in the historical Panier district of Marseille.

The most famous vacationers who have chosen Marseille for summer 2017 are French President Macron and his wife Brigitte . According to Le Figarò , they did it because “the city has a popular reputation, unlike Nice or Cannes” and he needed to shake off some sciccheria. But there are those who say that the presidential couple has focused on the capital of Provence because it is really the French surprise of recent years. Futuristic museums, a new district, the rebirth of the “old” ones thanks to street art. From 2013, the year in which Marseille was elected European Capital of Culture, his narration began to change: from a sore city to a new cultural frontier, with the black of the chronicles forced to make room for the walls of the Mucem , the museum of Rudy Ricciotti, who redesigned the promenade.

Seduced by the books of Jean Claude Izzo and the images of the Marseille series , this summer I also went to Marseille, which is just over 500 km from Milan and links abound (low-cost planes, trains, ships, even by carpooling). It was a discovery, indeed many small discoveries in the frame of a city that seemed far enough from its stereotypes. I will save you the details of the trip, here is just a list of things to do and see to discover the real Marseille.

I (new) museums. We were talking about Mucem, the museum inaugurated in 2013. It is a tribute to the “Civilization of Europe and the Mediterranean”, which tries to tell with original exhibitions like the one dedicated last year to the writer Jean Genet and his travels. But the value of Mucem, which is coupled with the beautiful Villa Mediterranee designed by Stefano Boeri a few meters, is (perhaps) to be a work of art itself: a black monolith that engulfs visitors in a labyrinth, and then free them on a terrace from which a bridge connects with Fort Jean and the old city: past and present in this way do not stop talking.

The alleys. The heart of old Marseille is the Panier, a neighborhood that will seem like a cross between the Spanish quarters of Naples and a Provençal village, which has not lost its pop soul despite attempts at gentrification. Among its colorful alleys coexist shops such as the Navette des Accoules (68 rue Casserie), which churns out the biscuits of religious festivals and the atelier of Ced Vernay, magician of pixel art. The mix of new and old does not mind the old inhabitants, who also learned to love the murals of Nhobi , the rising star of street art and author of a modern version of the sardine fisherman, legend of the city.