Metropolising Marseille. Mission impossible? Challenges and Opportunities of Metropolisation Processes in the Métropole Aix-Marseille-Provence


  • Boris Grésillon Centre Marc Bloch
  • Marlène de Saussure Technische Universität Berlin



Metropolisation, Marseille, Métropole Aix-Marseille-Provence, Scale, Governance, Political Power, Local Stakeholders


This paper aims to contribute to knowledge on the level of metropolitan governance through the analysis of a specific case: the Marseille metropolis in southern France. Marseille is broadly considered a postindustrial city in crisis, which has failed to achieve a functional transformation and a change of narrative in the age of globalisation.Over the last two decades, however, processes of regionalised and integrated metropolisation have had an impact on the city’s urban renaissance prospects. The paper identifies three central projects, which symbolically represent and concretely articulate different axes of Marseille’s metropolisation processes: Euroméditerranée (1995-*), The European Capital of Culture Marseille-Provence 2013 and the institutional creation of the Métropole d’Aix-Marseille-Provence. This paper proposes to approach metropolisation as a multi-dimensional phenomenon. Drawing on the three aforementioned cases, we analyse the different territorial-spatial scales affected, as well as the various geographic scales of governance stakeholders involved. Reflecting on their scopes of impact, the aim of the study is to investigate the challenges and opportunities of multi-scalar metropolisation for Aix-Marseille-Provence, and to discuss to what extent this conflictual plurality might be promising (or not) for better consensual metropolitan integration in the future. In conclusion, we show that the study on metropolisation in the Marseille region, including the region’s unique features, successes and failures, sheds light on and contributes to a better understanding of the evolution of other metropolises of a similar size in France and Europe.


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Issue publication date 2021-06-30 (version 2)
Published online first 2021-04-22 (version 1)




Research Article

How to Cite

Grésillon B, de Saussure M. Metropolising Marseille. Mission impossible? Challenges and Opportunities of Metropolisation Processes in the Métropole Aix-Marseille-Provence. RuR [Internet]. 2021 Jun. 30 [cited 2024 Apr. 16];79(3):201-13. Available from: