In 2010, eight heritage communities decided to create a heritage cooperative to make use of the economic potential of the cultural heritage of the northern districts of Marseilles and run a “Hôtel du Nord” project in a democratic way. Hôtel du Nord cooperative invites you to discover Marseille by the North: bed and breakfast, solidarity tourism, heritage walk, local products, books, images and sounds walks. The aim of this cooperative is to revive the hospitality which is one of the main features of the 15th and 16th districts of Marseilles.

The town councils of these districts, eight heritage communities and 100,000 inhabitants are involved; quite a challenge for the “2013 Cultural European Capital” year in Marseille, which will be an important milestone for this cooperative.

The Hôtel du Nord project – a cooperative one- comprises three inseparable parts: A network of 50 units for accommodation, located in various places around the 15th and 16th districts of Marseilles, a network of 50 hosts to introduce people to the context of every bedroom, and a network of heritage walks created by the hosts and all the partners.
This accommodation network will be constructed over the course of three years and gradual implementation will be carried out annually until 2013, during the three EHDs (European Heritage Days). The 50 hosts will introduce people to the context of every accommodation unit. These hosts – women or men, young or old- will be trained during the three years leading up to 2013 and will then be in charge of promoting the districts through hospitality.

This cooperative project falls within the Council of Europe’s Framework Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society, known as the Faro Convention (ratified on June 1st, 2011) and signed in September 2009 by the town council of these districts. It aims to enhance “economic development of the heritage” as a “source of social and environmental progress but also as a source of improvement for the framework and also the quality of life and the standard of living of the inhabitants.”

It´s approach is ground-breaking in that its starting point is not the object to be protected, i.e. heritage, but the people who benefit from it, namely all citizens, taken “alone or collectively”. We believe it is an innovative approach because it gears heritage policies to the needs of society, human progress and quality of life. It advocates intercultural dialogue and debates about heritage, for instance in order to avoid its misuse for nationalist purposes. It calls for the sustainable use of heritage resources, for instance by promoting a respectful approach to tourism and developing new activities mainly benefiting local communities for their economic and social development.

The Hôtel du Nord process is a sustainable one. Initiated as early as 1996 by a cultural heritage commissioner, it has since continued in partnership with the associations, the inhabitants and the companies which have chosen to move forward together within a “heritage commission”.

This long and patient work supported by artists, architects, academics, authors, etc., has resulted in publications, classifications, artistic creations and new uses of cultural heritage. “Patrimonial walks”, organised every year on the occasion of the EHDs, enable the public to discover what has already been achieved.