It has been an important part of Marseille’s history since its establishment in 1825.
The square was originally built as a refuge for sailors who had just arrived from their long journeys across the Mediterranean Sea. The original name “Rue des Réfugiés”, which translates to “Refuge Street”, was given to it by King Louis XVIII when he decreed that all ships must be welcomed there before being allowed into port. This decree still stands today, and Refuge Square remains one of the main points of entry for vessels entering Marseille’s harbour.
Today, Refuge Square is home to many cultural attractions and activities including several museums, art galleries, live music performances and street markets selling local produce such as olives, cheeses, and fruits. The area also houses some iconic landmarks such as La Canebière (the old trading quarter), Fort St Jean (the oldest fortification in France) and Vieux Port (Marseille’s picturesque fishing port).
In addition to its cultural attractions, Refuge Square also serves as a popular meeting point for locals due to its central location within the city centre. Every summer evening it transforms into an outdoor theatre where people gather around bonfires singing traditional songs while enjoying snacks from nearby food stalls or simply relaxing on blankets spread out on the cobblestone streets below them.