#32. A gentle lament for an empty basket

By pascaljappy | News

Sep 02

In defense of the Panier district of Marseilles

Le Panier, Marseilles’ old town and totally derelict only a few years ago, is undergoing major upper-crust surgery. A French daily sitcom (Plus belle la vie), an utterly crappy one at that, is set there and souvenir shops now stand were before there were traditional bakeries. Great news from promoters and shop keepers (and tourists, as it’s now a lovely walk). Dire news for those living there, yesterday a stone throw away from the beautiful old port and now relocated out of rich man’s way. These photographs, joyful but haunting, are posted on the main entrance as a protest against the changing times. Here’s a translation of the words that go with the poster (see picture below): “Since the foundation of Marseilles, it is the property of the people of the world. It is the home of exiles. The refuge of defectors. Here transit all who flee misery, massacres, tyrannies. Here travelers of indignation find their brothers.

By the way, a “panier” means a basket, hence the title.

Le Panier, jadis quartier populaire et historique de Marseille et aujourd’hui théâtre involontaire de Plus belle la vie et de projets d’aménagement spectaculaires. Les rues délabrées se nettoient une par une, les couleurs refont surface et les touristes abondent (la ballade est très agréable). Une aubaine pour les promoteurs et les magasins. Moins drôle pour les habitants relogés, pour certains, bien loin du centre et de leurs racines. Cette image collée sur les célèbres murs des escaliers des Accoules, proteste contre ces changements.

A poster in Marseille's Panier showing faces of people being relocated