Notre-Dame de la Garde, Marseille

Notre-Dame de la Garde (Our Lady of the Guard) is a basilica located in Marseille, France. Locals commonly refer to the beloved basilica as La Bonne Mère (the Good Mother).

This ornate Neo-Byzantine church sits atop the signal hill of La Garde, a 162 m (532 ft) limestone outcrop on the south side of the Vieux Port that is the highest natural point in Marseille.

As well as being a major local landmark, Notre-Dame de la Garde is the site of a popular annual pilgrimage every August 15, the Feast of the Assumption.

Commissioned by St. Charles Eugene de Mazenod, Bishop of Marseille, and designed by Jacques Henri Esperandieu, the foundation stone of the basilica was laid on September 11, 1853. It was completed in 1864.

The basilica was built on the site of a 13th century chapel also dedicated to Our Lady of the Guard, filled with the ex-votos of safely returned sailors. It shared space atop the hill with a 16th-century fortification established for Francois I, whose own salamander badge is to be found within the present basilica's north porch.

The basilica is surmounted by a 60 m (197 ft) belfry topped with a huge statue of the Virgin and Child, visible across much of the city and from miles out at sea. The basilica took five years to build and required 170,000 tons of material, including 23 shiploads of marble and porphyry from Italy.

The interior is decorated with inlaid marble, mosaics and murals. Many of the walls are covered with hundreds of ex-votos, including paintings, plaques, model boats, war medals and even football shirts given by players and supporters of Olympique de Marseille, the local team.

Visitors come here not only for the church but also for the view - best seen at sunset - from its terrace. The panoramic vista includes the city, the islands, and the sea.


Quick Facts on Notre-Dame de la Garde

Site Information
Names:Notre-Dame de la Garde
Styles:Byzantine Revival
Visitor and Contact Information
Coordinates:43.283874° N, 5.371236° E
Address:Rue Fort-du-Sanctuaire
Marseille, France
Lodging:View hotels near Notre-Dame de la Garde
Note: This information was accurate when first published and we do our best to keep it updated, but details such as opening hours and prices can change without notice. To avoid disappointment, please check with the site directly before making a special trip.


  1. Wikipedia - text used under GFDL.
  2. Official Website of Our Lady of the Guard
  3. Reviews of the Notre Dame de la Garde - TripAdvisor
  4. Notre-Dame de la Garde - Marseille Tourism Office

More Information

Map of Notre-Dame de la Garde, Marseille

Below is a location map and aerial view of Notre-Dame de la Garde. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.