La Canebière is like the Champs-Élysées of Marseille. Finally, the Champs-Élysées which would never have really recovered from two world conflicts and would still bear the terrible scars … It is that the most emblematic artery of the city – the one which leaves the Old Port to finish , rascal of fate, at the end of the earth according to Vincent Scotto -, once splendid and elegant, has long since swapped its chic theaters, cinemas and brasseries for so many kebab stands, decrepit bazaars and gloomy mini markets.
It certainly has beautiful remains, from the majestic frame of its first three hundred meters to the Church of Saint-Vincent-de-Paul which serves as its end point – a Catholic building that is called here “the Reformed” by galéjade more than out of heresy. But it’s really just that: leftovers.
The low-ceilingers like to blame this decadence on the exogenous populations who are almost the only ones still residing in the area, but it is indeed an analysis for low-ceiling. The poor generally only settle in the beautiful neighborhoods when they have already ceased to be so (beautiful, not poor, don’t gamble too thin). And then to tell the truth, these chicken and egg quarrels, eh …
Nevertheless, nothing is more distressing than the careful observation of what this avenue has become (an urban ribbon without charm, where mysterious construction sites regularly hatch here and there, exploding the sidewalks or the roadway without apparent motive) in thinking of what it could be (a Provencal version of the Ramblas of Barcelona, where we would remake the world by strolling to the big blue). The successive mayors, which in the case of Marseille is just an expression insofar as they tend above all to succeed themselves, are trying, timidly, to give it back a little luster by installing fragments of university and by retyping a few facades here and there but we can not say that the results are overwhelming.
During the day, in a way, things are still going well. It is crowded and the general atmosphere is a bit that of the Boulevard Barbès, with its dealers of contraband cigarettes, its ragged rags at the intersection of the rue de Noailles, its police cars taking their ease on the street. sidewalk in front of the police station and forcing pedestrians to shave the walls, its drunken Russian ex-soldiers who huddle at the foot of ticket machines … It’s alive. Not clean-clean and even less prestigious but alive. But it’s the night, which starts earlyin this good city, that the atmosphere goes from messy to unhealthy; when anxious chicks limp in their heels trying to nab one of the rare marauding taxis, leaving their manly halves the task of going up the Boulevard d’Athènes to the Saint-Charles station to negotiate a little hash 1 .
We no longer meet drunk guys vomiting between the artisan vans parked on the tram tracks, sinister gangs in hoodies, rats cleaning the bins of sandwich vendors and, perhaps, a few members. EELV who run so as not to miss the last metro when leaving Varietes, the old porn cinema converted into art house cinoche … Of course, we do not come for a walk arm-de- below in Catalan style to enjoy the cool night, on the Canebière.
It is said, however, that Jean-Claude Gaudin, when he is not taking a nap in his gilded office with a view of Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde, is working on a vast renovation program in the area , of the kind that would make one fine day, we will explain that the Champs-Élysées is a bit like the Canebière of Paris to give an idea of their majesty. Maousse projects would take shape behind the scenes, such as the construction of eight-star palaces in place of slums, the preemption of bazaars at the end of the lease to turn them into SFR shops or the transformation of kebabs into mojito lounges. Hey, we have transformed the Panier into a Marais and the Joliette quays as a stopover for wealthy cruise passengers … So the Canebière once again becoming the other most beautiful avenue in the world, that should be a game of minot.