If you ask anyone from Marseille what building is the symbol of the town, they will all answer you “La Bonne Mère”! Indeed, the “Good Mother” is the main cathedral of Marseille and is the holy protector of the whole city and people of Marseille
When you arrive in the city of Marseille, you’ll first visit the old port, real center of this maritime city. But one of the main things you can see immediately, is the church on the hill (162 m high) above Marseille: it’s the basilica of “Notre Dame de la Garde” or, like the people of Marseille call it, “La Bonne Mère”, that means “the good mother”. The people of Marseille have a real admiration for this “mother” of the city and are very proud of her… As we asked an old man on the port to explain us why all marseillans are so proud of this basilica, he told us this story:
“I am 75 years old and since I’m born I go regularly to the “bonne mère” and pray her. My whole life was full of happiness, I always had a good health, a lovely wife for over 50 years and fantastic children. Whenever I had a problem, I asked the “bonne mère” to help me, and she fulfilled all my dreams. I never asked for money or material things, she don’t like these kind of dreams, but when you’re honest and ask her for simple things, she’s always there for the people of Marseille….. And when you are there, you have the most beautiful panorama of the world!"
So, we climbed up the hill and wanted to see by ourselves. The way is very easy as the old man told us: from the old port, as long as you’re going up, and following the eye direction of the church, it’s the good direction, and when you’re there you can’t miss it!. On the way up (taking “Rue de la Croix” from the old port) You’ll go through the nice little garden called “Pierre Puget”. A first stop there to see the town from a bit higher. But the basilica is much higher!
When you arrive a t the top of the hill, don’t be suprised if you see a 2nd World War Tank of the American army in front of the basilica: it’s not a thread, just a memory of the liberation of Marseille by the allied forces in 1944… :)
Being in front of this building is impressive as the basilica seemed so little from far away but is in fact a quit big church reaching 62 m height. After your 1/2 hour walk you’re there, breathless, because of the “climbing” but also because of the magic atmosphere you feel in this place and the impressive view over the whole city. The “Bonne Mère” has really something special, it’s more than a simple religious spirit, even if you’re not a christian believer, there is something different to feel and to see there…..
So you haven’t really visited Marseille if you weren’t at the “Bonne Mère”, it’s perhaps the first thing you should do when arriving in this city! And don’t forget to take a few cameras of course!! :))