Marseillais Graffiti – A photo essay

As with many other cities in France, Marseille has a tough stance on graffiti. Fines and prosecution for taggers are serious business and, unlike neighbouring Italy, vandalising public properties is no longer condoned as an unsuppressable physical need felt by youngsters, much like doing wheelies with a moped or handbrake turns. All this conjures to make Marseille’s downtown as clean as a Swiss hospital waiting lounge and so do the city’s buses and trams.

But… everything changes in the Panier. Here graffiti, stencils, manifests glued to the walls are as abundant as Olympique Marseille track suits, creating a vibrant form of art that the city council seems mercifully hesitant to wash up. I started noticing them pretty much immediately after entering the quartier and soon began taking photos of them. In this post I’ll display some of my favourite graffiti and murales; stencils and manifests will come in another instalment. Enjoy!

Mars is a recurring character on the Panier's walls.

Mars is a recurring character on the Panier’s walls.

I guess the writing translates roughly in "While we're doing nothing, we might as well do it properly". Any French can confirm?

I guess the writing translates roughly in “While we’re doing nothing, we might as well do it properly”. Any French can confirm?

Che Guevara must be as popular, in Marseille, as Maradona in Napoli. At least given by the times his basco-ed head greeted me as I turned a corner.

Che Guevara must be as popular, in Marseille, as Maradona in Napoli. At least given by the times his basco-ed head greeted me as I turned a corner.

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A few murales depicting the old past of the city resist...

A few murales depicting the old past of the city resist…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASometimes graffiti come in clusters:

A small, winding road leading to the square by Rue de Repenties has become a de-facto art gallery, containing all the graffiti in this series.

A small, winding road leading to the square by Rue de Repenties has become a de-facto art gallery, containing all the graffiti in this series.

A small, winding road leading to the square by Rue de Repenties has become a de-facto art gallery, containing all the graffiti in this series.

A small, winding road leading to the square by Rue de Repenties has become a de-facto art gallery, containing all the graffiti in this series.

A small, winding road leading to the square by Rue de Repenties has become a de-facto art gallery, containing all the graffiti in this series.

A small, winding road leading to the square by Rue de Repenties has become a de-facto art gallery, containing all the graffiti in this series.

A small, winding road leading to the square by Rue de Repenties has become a de-facto art gallery, containing all the graffiti in this series.

A small, winding road leading to the square by Rue de Repenties has become a de-facto art gallery, containing all the graffiti in this series.

A small, winding road leading to the square by Rue de Repenties has become a de-facto art gallery, containing all the graffiti in this series.

A small, winding road leading to the square by Rue de Repenties has become a de-facto art gallery, containing all the graffiti in this series.

In other areas, graffiti have been used to hide an otherwise ugly metal fence:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFinally, a series that I found in a nondescript side passage, away from the hustle and bustle of the larger roads:

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