Whatever picture your mind conjures when you think of Marseille, I doubt it is of windmills.
Yet Marseille had many windmills back in the day. They formed part of the city’s defences, lined up on the hills together with canons, and ready to protect the population by providing flour in the event of a siege.
This mural that now decorates a wall close to the imposing Cathédrale de la Major, clearly shows the row of windmills.
The illustrated map below, courtesy of Jean-Pierre Cassely at Provence Insolite, shows the old windmills and the canon defences. If you compare these illustrations with a present day map, you will see that the route of the windmills lines up with the current Rue des Moulins in Le Panier district.
In the seventeenth century there were as many as 15 windmills, but water then became a more important power source than wind and by the nineteenth century only three remained. Also in the nineteenth century, the town authorities decided to knock-down the seemingly nondescript buildings that surrounded Place des Moulins and replace them with a school and houses of more uniform design. The result is a Provencal village-style square, that is still there today. take a walk up there to see its jolly, coloured houses with wooden shutters, beautiful trees, fountains and the large, open square. On Sundays it hosts a small artists market.
If you look up from the square, you can see the remains of two windmills; a third can be spied if you look at Google maps on satellite view.
I could spend hours (in fact, I did) wandering around Le Panier district and Place des Moulins is one of its prettier and quieter squares.