Visit a palace that was commissioned in 1852 by Napoleon III and enjoy its impressive architecture while attending one of the many professional events held there. Palais du Pharo, now a convention center, is perched at the edge of the Vieux Port's southern promontory and surrounded by the beautiful Jardin du Pharo. The name "Pharo" comes from the name of a nearby cove. The "Farot" was a mound separating the cove from the open sea, and providing a look-out point. It was first mentioned in the 14th century.
A royal history
The construction of the palace was ordered by Napoleon III, then Emperor of France, for his wife, Empress Eugenie. During one of his many visits to Marseille in 1851, Charles-Louis-Napoleon expressed a wish to build an imperial residence in the city. The emperor had undertaken a programme of construction and modernization of existing infrastructures in Marseille and the city was enjoying an economic boom. The municipality was keen to thank him for the development of the area and so happily complied with the request. In November 1852, the architect Samuel Vaucher found this stunning location which offers a beautiful panorama of Fort Saint-Jean and the bay of Marseille. The construction took many years and costs escalated as the Emperor many elaborate demands. In 1870, the palace was finished. However, this coincided with the end of Napoleon III's rule following defeat in the Franco-Prussian War, and he would never stay there before his death in 1873. The Napoleonic insignia of the gates and the facade were destroyed, like all the symbols of the empire at the time.
Modern facilities, incredible architecture
The palace was returned to the Empress Eugenie on his death, however she was pressured into handing it over to the municipality. The palace was first used as a hospital until the end of the 19th century and then occupied by the Faculty of Medicine. Eventually, it was acquired by the Aix Marseille University. The palace now acts as a conference center that receives up to 60,000 people a year. The former Imperial Residence has 7,000 square meters of function area throughout, while the modern 2013 extension can accommodate up to 2,500 people. Tradition has been respected and the site protected, by integrating the new spaces into the palace and creating underground conference rooms under the original building. The site has splendorous ceremonial rooms, a spectacular 1,200 meter square exhibition hall, a 500 meter square restaurant and a awe-inspiring 900-seat auditorium which can be adapted to accommodate conferences or seminars. The palace is bordered by the Jardin du Pharo, which offers magnificent views of the Old Port and the north coast of Marseille. Walk through these gardens to see a monument to the sailors who died during the First World War. Corporate events don't get more prestigious than those at the Palais du Pharo, a true highlight of the Marseille area