After a long and heated debate, and outright opposition from many mayors of Bouches-du-Rhône towns, the creation of Aix-Marseille Provence Métropole was passed in 2013. In January 2016, the Marseille metropolitan area expanded to include surrounding areas, where nearly two million people live. It will equal, or exceed in size, other French metropolitan areas, and it will lead to coordinated policies in terms of urban planning, transportation and economic development. Finally, a more cohesive territory between the metropolis (Marseille) and its periphery is expected to carry out joint projects more efficiently. By adopting a socio-political understanding of the Marseille metropolitan area, the article points out that territorial fragmentation and widening social inequalities between different towns are a real threat to the complete success of the project. Since World War II, the Marseille city has not built strong ties with its close neighbors, trying to find the sources of its future development in a European hinterland, the port of Fos-sur-Mer being the entry point. Facing the imperialism of the metropolis, the periphery has developed its own strategy of expansion, leading to
the appearance of powerful entropic forces. How could Aix-Marseille Provence Métropole overcome its internal contradictions and promote the emergence of an integrated urban area?
JEL classification numbers: H11, R10, R58
Keywords: Marseille metropolitan area, Hinterland, Political geography, Regional development.