Before it´s European cultural capital passage in 2013, Marseille was not a place heralded in tourist guides. For some novelists, like Cedric Fabre, it was the perfect spot to stage crime scenes and deploy surrealistic storylines. Marseille Noir uses economic stagnation, political patronage, drug trafficking in the northern suburbs, organized crime (in decline since the demise of the French Connection smuggling chain), recurrent drive-by killings and, of course, police corruption to feed the fictions. What could be more romantic than this multiracial city, between the Mediterranean and a ring of hills, with its tower blocks and ancient citadels, its unique mixture of Provence and Maghreb? In French Literature, no one has heard of any hard-boiled heroes from Lyon or Lille.

The city authorities used the money of the European Union well to disclose the harbour front and create vast public promenades near the docks. A good friend favors Marseille over Paris when taking holiday in France, describing it as Brussels with Mediterranian assets. I did not take him this serious. After all, the city was bombed to the ground during the second world war and the picture teasers of google brought forth nothing except the rectangular dock and an odd church on a hill. Seeing the town with my own eyes in 2017, it exceeded my wildest expectations. Les Calanques compares to the beauty of Naples, the small streets of Le Panier banishes all cars on the slopes towards the sea and the cultural mix, produced by the colonial past and the modern migration flux, is vibrant, vivid and visible. The three fortresses near the waterfront have been opened up and restored to create attractive viewpoints and playful planes. Street artists conquered space to penetrate the senses with moving artwork.

The walls of Le Panier are diverse tableaux, situated between egocentric micturition and calls for solidarity, between visual irony and vicious insubordination. Some signs remain small and silent, other surpass the level of the local fame and set off to tour the world on T-shirts, stickers and exhibition panels.