La Croix – 21 July 2014
Marseille converts to XXL shopping

This morning, the Graves-based perfume-maker Fragonard will be the first to raise the curtain on his stall at Les Voûtes de la Major. Nestled under Cathédrale de la Major, the arched space used to be home to the port warehouses. Today, they form a 7,500 m2 expanse of exclusive shopping, bordering the sea and a stone’s throw from MuCEM and the Old Port: “Being set in the heart of a prime tourist attraction, in a city that attracts tourists from as far as the United States, we can expect to generate some traffic”, wagered Agnès Webster, explaining that it was the place’s “character” that drew her in. Next Saturday, the neighbouring centre ‘Les Halles de la Major’, with eleven food professionals (greengrocer, fish-monger, cheese-maker, etc.) will start offering its premium products. “This is an all-new concept for Marseille”, explained Antoine Siffrein-Blanc, age 34. Between now and next March, restaurants, a chocolate shop and even a Habitat store are slated to open.

Part of the much-awaited Voûtes de la Major revival project, Les Halles de la Major are creating major buzz in the press! 

La Provence – 5 july 2014
Les “Halles” and Fragonard to inaugurate “Les Voûtes”

Les Halles de la Major will hold its grand opening on 21 July, then welcome visitors Mondays to Sundays, from 9 AM to 7 PM.  Four years of planning and two years of renovation will have been required to bring this distinctive venue to life.  With great gusto, Antoine Siffrein-Blanc tells of the project: “There will be 12 food speciality shops, all overlooking the sea.  600 m2 where people will be able to stop in for some quick grocery shopping, buy products and enjoy them on-site, have freshly-made foods served to them, or book the entire venue for exclusive use, knowing that they will be able to enjoy a wide array of prepared foods on the spot.  There is simply no other place like it, especially as we will be offering a concierge service for an easier shopper experience, including drive-and-load, and even cell phone recharging”, adding that he personally contributed €1.5 million the undertaking.  Visitors can look forward to finding an ice cream shop (les Glaciers marseillais, by Philippe Imbert and Jérôme Cellier), a Le Môle stand (a nod to the nearby MuCEM), a brasserie run by Julien Botella, an Italian fine foods store (La Casertane), a fish-monger and shellfish stall (Éric Castro and Patrick Torres), a Provençal tapas stand (Julien Botella and Thomas Hallier), a greengrocer and Maison Cellerier (regional speciality products from Lyon).  A mouth-watering line-up.

La Provence – 9 May 2014
Merchants Bring a New Look to Marseille 

This high-profile project, unfolding underneath a historical monument and sponsored by
Caisse d’Épargne Provence-Alpes-Corse (a €25 million contribution) is still in its final stages. The 7,300 m2 of space dedicated entirely to shops, will open in June, with a fully made-over edifice, expanded esplanade and all-new 3,200 m2 sea-side space, just across from MuCEM, Villa Méditerranée, the Regards de Provence Museum and a 750-space parking facility. Some forty stores (all brought in last week) and a sprawling food hall, with fine speciality products, will open their doors to the public in June.

Marseille l’Hebdo – 22 January 2014
Striking Gourmet Gold in the Vaults under La Major

It’s time for the beauty to come out of her slumber.  Directly across from MuCEM, the 7,000 m2 shopping centre project, les Voûtes de la Major, will contribute to renovating the seafront.  Scheduled grand opening date: next June.
“Did we have a role model?  Covent Garden in London.”  Eric Foillard, President of LC2I, the project developer, states unassumingly, confident in his chosen course.  “We are set just below la Major, on the Littoral esplanade, across from MuCEM… These 240 metres along the Littoral boulevard separate rue Mercati from Fondation Regard de Provence.  It is here that Les Voûtes will begin a new life.  “During the fire, all of the stones were blown apart and everything was in very bad condition”, explains the developer.  One of the venue’s pleasant surprises during the construction process was a hidden fresco from 1952.  “The sculpture shows two angels holding the City of Marseille’s coat of arms.  It will be restored and given star treatment”, the developer confirms.

A Listed Monument
For the restoration process, he called on the Avignon-based firm Girard, specialized in restoring listed monuments.  The mission: to find the type of stone closest to the original.  The outcome: mission successfully completed, with the stones having been brought in from Portugal.  This is what made it possible to finalise the restoration and extensions.  The esplanade of Cathédrale de La Major was expanded and, from it, an over-sized nine-metre staircase added, leading directly to the front of MuCEM, on a boardwalk where eight brasseries and restaurants will open.  “Les Voûtes underneath La Major will attract Marseille’s select few and trendy tourists”.  Thirty-two shops are scheduled to open their doors in June, and 65% of the spots have already been booked.  “It will be France’s second shopping centre underneath a historical monument, after Le Carrousel du Louvre”, he added.  The roster announced by Les Voûtes de la Major is impressive: small sophisticated restaurants, exclusive boutiques, a vintner, a shellfish stall, a fish-monger and places to linger until 5 AM some days of the week, including the Corsican live music bar, Le son des guitares.

Past and Future
“This is neither a shopping centre nor a pedestrian shopping street – it’s an urban area where the past lives alongside the future”, adds Yannick Gallene, the project’s financial officer (Caisse d’Epargne Group), very proud to emphasise that the famed pedestrian plaza (known as Place des Arts), just across from MuCEM, will be shielded from the Mistral’s gusting winds, a six-metre high parapet wall be planned… You weren’t expecting it, but you just found out where to take refuge in the event of blustery weather.

All in the Same Vault
In accordance with Les Voûtes de la Major’s terms of reference, each shop must display the same type of sign: black, with white lettering.  The light curtain walls will create an impression of transparency, all the while guaranteeing security for the shops behind them.  As to the major names that have already booked their spot, mum appears to be the word – except for a handful: a short distance from the vast food marketplace, run by the team at Bec Fin, perfume-maker Fragonard will offer visitors an entertaining way to tour his laboratories, joined by chocolate-maker Espérantine.

La Provence – 5 January 2014
Recollections of Barcelona at Les Halles

One of the new concept areas offered by Les Voûtes de la Major is, of course, Les Halles marketplace.

Here’s to the hope that we won’t feel deprived anywhere when we hear about the San Miguel Market in Madrid (yum!) or La Boqueria in Barcelona.  Come along as we listen to Antoine Siffrein-Blanc tell all about the tantalising treats that await.  He is the mind behind the 800 m2 two-level space where 11 food professionals will offer their finest.

“I’ve been at this for four years!  And back when I started, it took some serious ambition to set out on this track!  The setting is totally unique, though, with MuCem and la Major, the new district.  We are going to create a place for people to congregate around fine foods – the first such place in Marseille.  They will be able to pick up shellfish, fruits and vegetables or meats to cook at home, or lunch at the counter, and have a drink or coffee.  In the evenings, Les Halles will be available for exclusive rental by companies or private groups!”  Negotiations are underway with the cheese-maker Mons, or even with Passédat.  “There will also be a concierge service, where people will be able to leave other purchases while shopping, as well as home-delivery”.  In a nutshell, an all-new concept following proudly in the footsteps of Harrod’s cornershop!

Also much-awaited are the new establishments opened up by Antoine Cassandri, who will be coming up with a ‘new generation’ Son des Guitares bar.  In his mind, there is no doubt about it: Les Voûtes is going to become the location everyone covets: “I have every certainty it will”, he states.