Amazing how many museums are opening or reopening in Marseille, one French comic was even doing a sketch on that the other day on the radio.. Indeed there seems to be a museum opening every other month theses days, but that’s because before MP2013, Marseille was indecently poor in museal space, so thanks to all the good ferries of MP2013 who touched the town with their multimillion magic wands and made all of this happen. 

Chateau Borely, « the most beautiful of all the Bastides » as it was nick-named as soon as it was built late XVIII century, harbours the Decorative Arts and Fashion Museum. Can’t say that it’s made an enormous buz here in Marseille, but as good interior’s freak, I’d seen Mathieu Lehanneur’s work of restoration of the museum’s interiors mentioned in most French deco mags, so on a beautiful Wednesday afternoon (kids free afternoon day, designed sightseeing day with my daughter who is still at an age were I can get her interest going, especially easy to tease her with the word « fashion » contained in the Museum’s title…) we head to the « Bastide »… actually the Bastide word is (for once) very understated, a bit like when one of your British friend tells you about her little place in London and it turns out to be a massive Victorian 5 floored house on the hill, backing up onto communal gardens…but that’s another story.. so here are a few pics of Chateau Borely.

Cimbal instalation on the fountain fronting the Chateau



A reception room restored to it’s original grandeur, interesting to see that the doors decoration are quite similar to the ones in the dressing room of the Pope in the Palais des Papes en Avignon. Apparently the « tomettes » (octagonal terracotta tiles) were wetted every morning during the hot summer days. The water slowly evaporated during the day, making the room fresh, an ingenuous alternative to dreaded a/c 


A part from the reception room, the different spaces present a happy mix of state of the art refurbishment (illustrated by various video  shown on discretly fitted screens scattered along the way) and contemporary installations and design.

A uplit table with Fauchier XVIII century table ware, also down lit  with Lee Broom’s chandelier made of XIX century crystal decanters cross cut to make reflective lampshades

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An original marble basin


A fairly small collection of local and exotic furniture spanning the XVIII to XX century adorns the various rooms



 A couple of rooms are solely dedicated to faience


Matthieu Lehanneur designed the intriguing side lit ceiling present in various rooms, very 2000 Space Odysee-like, they actually integrate very well and definitively bring texture into the space, just hope they are not hiding anything interesting..

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Mathieu Lehanneur, Les cordes, light installation in the lobby


Magdalena Gerber, L’illusion du réel, 2013.

Ceramic installation or views represent if the Chateau’s life and 4 years restauration


Sorry, no fashion pics, too dark in there…

 The east pavilion harbours the museum’s cafe, suitably eclectic and vintage, it serves light meals and delicious ice creams, perfect final touch for a girly afternoon..

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If I’d have to risk a comparison (a very risky one indeed) with the V&A, I would say it’s a microscopic version, but with it’s eclectic approach it makes you forget the size of the collections. It’s nice outdoor cafe is usable year round without much risk of being drowned under the rain. It’s also yards from the beach……so overall, like Marseille, things balance out in the end don’t they 😉