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Marseille-Provence 2013 - Events Diary

The Camargue by Marc HellerNovember is a quiet month in the provençal calender but the Capital of Culture programme continues with a new ballet in Aix inspired by Camus, an autumn jazz festival in Marseille and a designers' salon in Arles. logoClick here to book a hotel in Provence

Extra events will be announced in the course of the autumn, so keep a close eye on this space for new additions. And click here to read our October diary for Marseille-Provence 2013 European Capital of Culture.

For the full programme (many, though by no means all, pages are now finally translated into English), see the website for Marseille-Provence 2013: European Capital of Culture.

Visitors to Marseille should also head for the new temporary Pavillon M on the place Villeneuve-Bargemon just off the Old Port, which is a primary source of information (the main Tourist Office at 11 la Canebière will be open as usual too).

Le Routard guide to MP2013If you read French, you might be interested in Le Routard Marseille, Provence 2013, capitale européenne de la culture, a very comprehensive book-length guide to what's going on

2 November onwards Le Fil de l'Eau: Le Fil du Temps en Camargue (The Water's Edge: The Edge of Time in the Camargue) is an exhibition exploring the relationship between man and water, omnipresent in the extraordinary landscapes of the Camargue region.

Pictured top left: an aerial photograph of the Camargue salt flats by Marc Heller. At the Musée de la Camargue, Arles.

4-24 November Jazz sur la Ville (Jazz Across the Town) An autumn jazz festival at two dozen different venues in Marseille. Performers include the Gilles Alamel Trio, the Maxime Bender 4-tet and the Jaak Lutsoja Quintet.

Albert Camus6-9 November Dancer Emio Greco and choreographer Pieter C Scholten have created a new ballet based on the classic novel L'Etranger (The Stranger) by Albert Camus, pictured, about an alienated man in colonial Algeria who commits a gratuitous murder.

At the Théâtre du Jeu de Paume in Aix en Provence, near another major Camus event, an exhibition celebrating his life and work at the Cité du Livre.

8-16 November Semaine du Genre Féminin / Masculin (Gender Week Feminine / Masculin ) is a performing arts programme in conjunction with The Gender Bazaar exhibition currently on at the MuCEM in Marseille.

Both the show and the Gender Week examine notions of sexuality and gender identity in Mediterranean culture. Events will be held at the MuCEM as well as at the 3 bis F Centre in Aix en Provence.

Painting by Claude Gazier9 November-7 December At the Chapelle des Pénitents Bleus in La Ciotat, Claude Gazier's moody paintings artfully evoke the atmosphere of vintage film stills in an exhibition named Champ - Contrechamp (Angle - Reverse Angle).

21-25 November Provence Prestige, le salon de l'art de vivre en Provence (The Art of Living in Provence) is an annual salon of some 150 provençal artisans and designers teeming with great ideas for interior and exterior decor, furniture, fashion, cosmetics and, of course, gastronomy. At the Palais des Congrès in Arles.

23 November The Arles-based master-pyrotechnicians Groupe F have staged a series of spectacles across the region all through the year. It's now the turn of Aix en Provence, where the show takes place on the square and terraces in front of the Grand Théâtre de Provence this evening, starting at 6pm.

29 November-8 December The traditional Fête des Bergers (Shepherds' Festival) in Istres, on the Blue Coast north-west of Marseille, is now in its 28th year.

As usual, there's a large craft fair, sheepdog trials, a banquet and a procession of sheep celebrating the transhumance, the passage of animals between their summer and winter pastures.

The 2013 programme also includes events highlighting the 150th anniversary of Charles Gounod's opera, Mireille, based on Mireio, Frédéric Mistral's poem in the provençal language (the opera itself is in French).

November The Inrocks Black XS Festival at La Friche La Belle de Mai in Marseille showcases new and established performers in a programme of pop, rock, folk and electronic music.

Ongoing Events

Until 3 November At the Chapelle des Pénitents Bleus in La Ciotat, a show is devoted to the Lumière Brothers' experimental Autochrome process, an early form of colour photography used by both themselves and their contemporaries. Read more about the Lumière Brothers in La Ciotat.

Until 8 November The Fiesta des Minots (minot is a local slang word for kid) offers a programme of puppet shows, silent films, story readings, animated movies and even a mini rock festival for children at locations around Aix en Provence, Arles, Marseille, Martigues, Port de Bouc and Salon de Provence.

Tete de Femme by Hans BellmerUntil 15 December Créer pour résister (Create in Order to Resist) Between 1939 and 1942, the Camp des Milles, just outside Aix en Provence, was an internment camp for political dissidents, artists and intellectuals and, finally, Jews about to be deported to Auschwitz. Some of the amazing murals created by artist-prisoners can still be seen on its walls.

This temporary exhibition celebrates the creativity under extreme duress of four painters interned at Les Milles: Hans Bellmer, Max Ernst, Ferdinand Springer and Wols.

It consists of around 50 of their works, as well as previously unpublished documents and archive footage. Pictured, Tête de Femme sur une Tour / Woman's Head on a Tower (circa 1940) by Bellmer. LogoBook a low-cost private taxi transfer with the smarter way to arrive.

Until 22 December Closed throughout the summer, the J1 Hangar in Marseille - a former ferry terminal temporarily converted into an arts space for the Capital of Culture year - reopens with the major show of the autumn in Provence, Le Corbusier et la question du brutalisme (Le Corbusier and the Question of Brutalism).

Le Corbusier ceramicAlso entitled, more succinctly, LC at the J1, this really is a must-see, a revelation that Le Corbu was much more than an architect or interior designer.

On display at the J1: his ceramics (one of those on display is pictured), tapestries, enamels, wooden sculptures, cubist paintings, even erotic sketches... the range of his artistic interests is amazing.

The exhibition focuses on the later part of Le Corbusier's career and shows how, in this mature period, he developed a new aesthetic which critics - positive as well as negative - dubbed "brutalism": an approach to architecture born of a synthesis of all the arts.

Which is not to say that his architectural work is neglected. Maquettes, cross-sections, plans and sketches, photographs and films all trace the key building achievements of this period.Le Corbusier at the J1 Terminal Marseille

Le Corbusier has a close connection with Marseille. He regularly sailed from the port (just a few metres from the J1 Hangar) for Algeria, where he was working on architectural projects, or for Athens, where he participated in the 1933 Congress of Architects, an event which had a major impact in shaping his ideas.

And, constructed in 1947-1952, the architect's Radiant City experimental housing, pictured, made his name internationally. Enormously influential, it is still one of the most desirable addresses in town for people to live at today.

The Radiant City MarseilleCurated by the Marseille architect and Le Corbu expert Jacques Sbriglio, the exhibition at the J1 is superbly presented, with clean uncluttered lines, well-chosen, clear bright colours and an impressive attention to detail: for example, light projections on the floor in each room evoke Le Corbusier's espousal of the Golden Ratio theory which influenced his designed for the apartments in the Radiant City.

The informative signage in each room is in French and (for a change, well-translated) English.

Whereas the previous show at this venue blacked out the windows, LC at the J1 is surrounded by luminous open views to the port and the sea that inspired the architect's vision. It's the last important event in this unusual and evocative space, which looks likely to be reclaimed for commercial port activities after the end of the year. Unmissable!

Until 5 January 2014 The Cité du Livre in Aix en Provence is offering a major exhibition, Albert Camus, Citoyen du Monde (Albert Camus, Citizen of the World) to celebrate the centenary of the writer's birth. It includes hand-written manuscripts, author's proofs, first editions and photographs, along with multi-media elements. Admission free.

Until 5 January 2014 A new version of the hugely popular son et lumière show at the Quarries of Lights (formerly known as the Cathedral of Images) links into the overall Mediterranean theme of Marseille-Provence 2013 European Capital of Culture.

Called Monet, Renoir... Chagall. Voyages en Méditerranée (Voyages to the Mediterranean), it explores how the luminous colours of the Mediterranean, from the Spanish border to the Italian Riviera, have attracted painters throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.

Until 11 January 2014 At the Alcazar in Marseille, as well as in Vitrolles and Miramas, Les Expéditions Imaginaires (Imaginary Expeditions) bring to life some incredible landscapes out of classic children's books such as Alice in Wonderland, Robinson Crusoe and Harry Potter. Read more about the Imaginary Expeditions programme.

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Until January 2014 The MuCEM (Musée des civilisations de l'Europe et de la Méditerranée, or the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations), Marseille's showpiece new museum, is now open with a permanent exhibition of artifacts from around the Mediterranean.

There are temporary shows too. The first two of these are Le Noir et le Bleu, un Rêve Méditérranean (The Black and the Blue, a Mediterranean Dream), which looks at artists' visions of the future across countries and centuries and the curiously named Le Bazar du Genre (The Gender Bazaar), which investigates traditional concepts of gender and sexuality in different Mediterranean cultures.

The MuCEM Marseille by nightPictured, the building itself, designed by Rudy Ricciotti, is well worth a visit, as are the landscaped gardens in the adjacent Fort Saint Jean.

Until 23 February 2014 La Provence, ses peintres et ses poètes (Provence, its Painters and Poets) is a show at the Musée Regards de Provence in Marseille that celebrates artists and writers who were inspired by Provence at a certain point in their personal development, including Apollinaire. Braque, Camus, Cartier-Bresson, César, Cocteau and Joyce.

Until 16 March 2014 A retrospective is dedicated to the sculptor César at the Musée Cantini in Marseille. César Baldaccini - to give him his full name - was born in Marseille on 1 January 1921 and grew up in the factories and warehouses of the Belle de Mai neighbourhood in the north of the city, where his father ran a bar. He died in Paris on 6 December 1998.

Le Pouce by Cesar in MarseillePart of the Nouveau Réalisme (New Realism) movement, along with Arman, Yves Klein and others, César is celebrated for his sculptures made of scrap metal, in particular compressed cars.

He also created the trophy for the César Awards (France's equivalent of the Oscars) which are, in fact, named after him. His giant thumb (Le Pouce), pictured, sits on the roundabout on the avenue de Hambourg near the Musée d'Art Contemporain [mac] in the south of Marseille (another of his thumbs can be seen at La Défense in Paris).

Click here to read our December diary for Marseille-Provence 2013 European Capital of Culture



Saint Barbara's Wheat in Provence at ChristmasChristmas in Provence starts on 4 December! Read about Saint Barbara's wheat and other local Christmas traditions.


Saint Victor Abbey Marseille by nightNow in its 47th year, the prestigious music festival at Marseille's historic, beautiful Saint Victor Abbey continues until 5 December. Last concert: Christmas carols.


Provence olive oilProvence's festivals celebrating the season's new olive oil are on in the Alpilles and Aix. 30 Nov-15 Dec.


Santa ClausChristmas shopping in Marseille this year features fireworks on the Old Port, giant santons on the Canebière, mulled wine and cakes in the Old Town - and artificial snow on the rue Sainte. From 6 Dec.


SkiingHeading to the ski slopes? Here's how to get there from Marseille or Aix by snow bus or snow train.


Christmas on the Cours Mirabeau, AixProvence's colourful Christmas markets are opening for business. Find the best fairs and festivals in Marseille, Aix, Avignon, Arles and elsewhere.


Descente des BergersCount the sheep (there'll be plenty of them around) at the Fête des Bergers, or Shepherds' Festival, in Istres, on the Blue Coast. Sheepdog trials, sheep processions, a banquet (with roast lamb?) 29 Nov-8 Dec.


Rose wine of ProvenceStar billing: Miraval, the rosé wine produced by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, has just been named one of the top 100 wines in the world.


MSC SplendidaWe report from this autumn's Top Cruise conference about the new cruise routes from Marseille in 2014 and the latest developments in the city's booming cruise tourism.


Avignon fringe theatre festivalThe summer 2014 dates have now been confirmed for the Avignon "In" and "Off" Theatre Festivals.


CalissonsPuzzling over Christmas gift ideas? Here are our top five Provence-themed presents, all available to buy by mail order.


Claude Gazier paintingClaude Gazier's moody paintings evoke the smokey atmosphere of vintage film stills. La Ciotat, until 7 Dec.


Victoire Belezy as Fanny in Daniel Auteuil's Pagnol trilogyThe first two parts of actor-director Daniel Auteuil's new version of Marcel Pagnol's classic Marius, Fanny, César trilogy, set on the Old Port of Marseile, are now playing in UK cinemas.


Marilyn by Andy WarholWarhol, Hopper, Bacon, Magritte, Picasso, Delvaux: diary dates for some of the big art shows lined up for Marseille in 2014.


Henri Lebasque Nude Asleep on a BedWomen of Provence, as seen by male painters and by themselves, are the subject of a new show at the Musée Regards de Provence, Marseille. Until 24 Feb 2014.


Ballet Preljocac in Aix en ProvenceTake a backstage tour of the Pavillon Noir in Aix en Provence (14 Dec) or watch Angelin Preljocaj and the Ballet Preljocaj in rehearsal (10 Dec). These events are free.


Image from the film about the artist Pierre-Auguste RenoirNow available on DVD: France's entry for the Oscars is Renoir, a film about the artist's life shot in the Var near Saint Tropez.


Ceramic by Le Corbusier Ceramics, sculptures, tapestries, paintings - and erotic sketches: Le Corbusier was not just a revolutionary architect, as this must-see show at the J1 Hangar, Marseille, reveals. Until 22 Dec.


Lucien Clergue's photograph of Le Testament dOrphee in Les Baux de Provence Jean Cocteau's Le Testament d'Orphée was filmed in the Valley of Hell near Les Baux de Provence. A show of photographs by Lucien Clergue, in Les Baux, chronicles the shooting. Until 31 Dec.


Ben Foster as Lance Armstrong in Stephen Frears new filmThe disgraced Tour de France cyclist Lance Armstrong is the subject of a new film by the Oscar-nominated director Stephen Frears, now shooting in the French Alps.