Thursday, February 5, 2015

Marseille's water castle and 'wild' animals

Henry Espérandieu, architect of Notre-Dame de la Garde, designed
Palais Longchamp, "the most striking building built in Marseille
during the Second Empire."

Marseille's beautiful Palais Longchamp was built not for royalty, but for water. Constructed in the 19th century to celebrate the construction of the Canal de Marseille, the ornate castle and its fountain are known as the château d'eau.

The monumental fountain in the middle of the colonnade
of Palais Longchamp is by Jules Cavelier.

Detail of ceiling in the colonnade of Palais Longchamp in Marseille

Remants of the original aquaduct that brought water from the Durance River to the city are still visible at the palace, which houses le Musée des Beaux-Arts and le Musée d'Histoire Naturelle. The surrounding Parc Longchamp is one of France's jardins remarquables. The park contains an observatory and the Funny Zoo.

Château d'eau

Statue in Parc Longchamp in Marseille

Twenty-five years after the Marseille Zoo closed its cages, the former tenants ... or rather, brightly colored fiberglass cousins ... returned to Parc Longchamp.

Some are housed inside cages of the old zoo, which opened in 1898 and closed in 1987; others free-range graze throughout the 17-hectare park behind Palais Longchamp.

The zoo's website calls Funny Zoo "un come-back historique." The free permanent exhibition features 110 life-size animals. There's an educational component too: The park has partnered with the city's Natural History Museum to teach children about biodiversity and animal preservation.

Animals that have escaped from the Funny Zoo also can be spotted in other parts of Marseille.

Le Lion de Marseille, designed by Stéphan Muntaner,
is located at the city's Hôtel de Ville.

Artist Luc Dubost designed this upside-down cerf,
located near Jardin du Pharo in Marseille.

Giraffa Camelopardalis, designed by Sowat,
loiters along La Carnebière.

For more information about Palais Longchamp, visit Marseille's tourism website here.

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