The Cathedral of La Major is both the oldest church in France and the last cathedral built on French territory. Its origins date back to early Christianity in Europe and the site has undergone many transformations to this day.

The new Major was completed in 1893 after 40 years of construction followed by 3 successive architects. This monumental building, equivalent in size to St. Peter's of Rome, sits on the port of Commerce of Marseille at a time when the city is the essential point of passage between the West and the East, between the metropolis and the colonies and French counters..

For years, it is almost forgotten because of its encaissement between the bridge of highway, an ugly carpark and the districts of Panier and Joliette, very different from today.

The arrival of the Mucem and the rehabilitation of the esplanade now opens it to the city and the sea. It is good to stroll, see play children and skaters or settle there for the sunset.

Very old origins of the Cathedral of the Major

The Cathédrale Sainte Marie Majeure is better known by the Marseillais by its Occitan name La Major. Its foundations are superimposed on an old church of the 4th century. There are even older origins at this religious site with foundations dating back to early Christianity. From this period still remain some mosaics on the ground and a baptistery.

Several enlargements and restorations follow one another during the Medieval period until the construction in the 12th century of a Romanesque cathedral.

The construction of the new Major

It is in 1852 that the Bishop decides the construction in a Roman-Byzantine style. This monumental cathedral wants to recall its connections with the Orient by its port, one of the most important in the Mediterranean and France at the time.

Procession of August 15

August 15th is a major event for the Panier district with the celebration of the Madonna Procession.


The faithful leave the Golden Virgin of the Major and go in procession in the streets of Le Panier. The crowd grazes the status, some hang rosaries and messages on the arms of the Virgin of the Major and the children are presented to him.


du Wednesday to Monday

10h00 - 17h30 October - March

10h00 - 18h30 April - September


Métro ou Tramway T2-T3 Sadi Carnot

Trough the passage Lorette, walk down the rue du Petit-Puits au Panier.

From the Old-Port, Notre-Dame de la garde

Bus 60 terminus Mucem


From Saint-Charles train station

Bus 82 et 82S

Visit le Panier with our maps