With the association Collectif Vélo en Ville I have since 6 months been exploring parts of Marseille that I had only heard of. Today we went to Saint Just, Merlan and Chutes-Lavie where a surprise waited for us at the end of a narrow street behind a gate.
There was a time when foreigners were welcome in Marseille; they were innovative and created jobs. Mr Lavie was one of them. Léon Lavie was born in 1841 in Constantine (Algeria) . He was an engineer who started his carreer in the milling business using hydraulic power. With the arrival of water from the river Durance Léon Lavie decided to move across the Mediterranean to Marseille to develop his business.
Léon Lavie started out in Saint Marcel on the river Huveaune where in 1882 he rented the mill Bridle. He increased the rentability by improving the steam engines used for milling and bought a big land plot in Saint Just where he obtained a concession for the supply of water. He built several corn flour mills on the hillside and let various buildings to other manufacturers such as the oïl and soap factories Verminck (see my article A Soap) and the flour mills of Guieu, Moncelly, Olive, Caire and Magaud.
Eventually the land was bought by the Guieu family, and the last widow sold in 1970 the land to a family with five children. The property promoters were not happy as they had been constructing 4-5 story buildings all around and had set their eyes on the land plot. However, four of the children built their own houses on the land, and today one of the children, now grown-up, received us in her garden and showed us around. Take a visit via the photos on the below link or have a look at my own photos.
Now you know why the area is called Chutes-Lavie (chutes means falls like in water falls) and why there is Boulevard Moulins Guieu.