Restaurant in the centre of "Le Panier", the oldest quarter of Marseille.
Always packed, this is a restaurant without menus or, perhaps worryingly, fixed prices.
Expect delicious traditional food: lamb with rosemary, beef, squid, pizza au feu de bois and fresh fish.
For tourists, prices tend to come out at about €25 a head for two courses and wine.
The atmosphere is warm and noisy: go on a Saturday night for maximum fun.
43, Rue de Lorette , 13002 Marseille
Metro: Vieux Port
Tramway: Sadi Carnot
Take the train from Marseille heading West through the coastal villages of Niolon, Carry le Rouet, Sausset les Pins.
The track runs along the side of the mountain looking over the bay of Marseille.
Get off when you want for a swim and a drink and be back in Marseille for the evening. Or you could continue to Montpellier to see a totally different side of the south of France.
Marseille St. Charles to Carry/Sausset. For trains to Montpellier/Toulouse check the routes as they do not always take the coastal line.
Map: tinyurl.com/yt7ex7 (Marseille St Charles)
A square on top of a hill full of people, cafés, bookshops and a big fountain. Come here to get away from the crowds on the vieux port and see beautiful Marseille.
The atmosphere is relaxed: think Schanzenviertel, Hamburg or Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin in July/August.
Enjoy the view over the Cathedral of Notre Dame de la Garde at the end of 'Cours Ju' with a pression and some olives or browse the markets and boutiques during the day.
It's calm, yet cool, and a different side of Provence for those who want to experience the buzz in France's second city.
Metro: Notre Dame du Mont/Cours Julien.
This was an area of industrial wasteland with some falling down buildings that has been converted into one of the cultural and artistic centres of Marseille.
It hosts exhibitions, concerts, film projections, dance shows, theatre performances, lectures, debates, recording studios and a restaurant.
There is something interesting on pretty much every day and it's not usually that expensive.
41, rue jobin, 13003 Marseille.
This might seem like an odd idea but the Alcazar library is honestly an interesting thing to visit in Marseille for those seeking to understand the life of the city.
An old music hall and theatre, which welcomed Jacques Brel, Charlie Chaplin and Georges Brassens before closing, the Alcazar has only been open to the public as a library since 2004. It is part of a scheme to invest in the Belsunce area of the city which, like most of the centre of Marseille, has an overwhelmingly working class and immigrant population.
It is a vast, modern and beautiful building, clean and filled with light and people during its typically Mediterranean 11am until 7pm opening hours.
The contrast is incredible between the cool, tranquil space of the library and the noisy, dirty and sunbaked road outside, where a tram line is currently being built and hundreds of people go in and out of shops and cafes selling Muslim wedding clothes, north African pastries, mint tea, halal meat, and CDs and videos of Moroccan pop stars.
There are constantly changing exhibitions, a press area and frequent film screenings.
This restaurant is really special. For 15 euros you are served a huge platter of assorted coquillages straight from the market stalls outside: oysters, mussels, crevettes, crab, langoustes and clams are all affordable for those on even the tightest budget.
The prices start from about 15 euros for a huge platter and go up according to the quantity of raw shellfish you feel like eating. For fans of coquillages this prize-winning restaurant is surely a must, but even for those Brits like me who are terrified of eating something so weird (let’s face it…), the lively atmosphere, the friendly staff and the sight of so many people enjoying delicious food is enough to make you try your first oyster.
It is child-friendly, unpretentious and welcoming, and the wine is good too. Forget Bouillabaisse unless you can get a real Marseillais to make it for you for a tenth of the price and go ‘Chez Toinou’. It is a Marseille institution.
3, cours Saint Louis - 13001 Marseille
La Caravelle bar is on the first floor of Hotel Belle Vue, and is probably the best place to enjoy a drink in Marseille. Not only does it have a wonderful atmosphere, but your drinks come with free tapas. From within the eclectically-decorated bar or from the beautiful terrace you have amazing views of the Vieux Port and the Basilique Notre Dame de la Garde.
34 quai du Port; tel: 04 91 90 36 64
Here's a photo I took of the outside:
Like Bouillabaisse, Marseilles is a city of sinews and bone, uncompromising and greedy. Traditionally centred round the fish market, this is where hard faced dealers are found in the early morning buying crates of lobsters, cod, langoustines, sea bass and hake.
The harsh overhead fluorescents wash the colour from everything except the dark lobsters that struggle against their destiny to be boiled alive. The produce is so fresh there is no smell of fish, only the overpowering cloying stench of Gauloises, the pungent aroma of stale sweat and the ever-present odour of garlic.
By mid–morning the market has been emptied and hosed down. Only the raucous gulls argue and bicker on the quayside having gorged earlier on the huge pile of entrails emptied into the harbour.
Salt cod is one of the staples of the Mediterranean. It’s one of those dishes, no matter how many times it’s been tried, still seems to be bony and not worth the trouble. It’s everywhere in every Mediterranean port but it only seems to be the locals who buy it.
If any dish can be said to be typical of Provence, it has to be Bouillabaisse - and especially so of Marseilles. No two people will agree on what makes good Bouillabaisse, as fish vary so much along the coast. Ideally it is based on the bony rock fish, rascasse, along with whatever else is available.
Everything is cooked whole and simmered in a gigantic pot with potatoes until tender. The liquor is strained and served as a first course and the remaining chunks of fish and vegetables served as a stew. Now while our refined tastes might balk at eating heads, entrails, skin etc, be assured this is one of the top ten dishes in the world for taste.
This Italian restaurant serves fantastic pizzas and great entrecote steaks. Friendly service, with a family/local atmosphere.
Menus in English available.
5 av Prado, 13006 - Just by Place de Castellane;
I know ... why go to an Irish bar when on holiday in the South of France? But, to be honest, there are not too many Irish people about, and not much Irish music either! A good mixture of music, from chart music to 1980s French rock, its a great place to spend your Saturday night/Sunday morning.
Vieux Port - 17, Quai de Rive Neuve;
Metro: Vieux Port
The Shambhala is a tea room, but with an oriental/Indian feel. The entrance is a little shop, but go through to the back to get to the tea room (after you have taken off your shoes!). You sit on cushions at low down tables, and drink flavoured teas from all over the world - and no Coca Cola!
Very chilled and relaxed. There is also a restaurant upstairs.
40, Rue des 3 frères Barthélémy, 13006;
Tel: 04 91 47 68 03;
Metro: Notre Dame du Mont (Cours Julien)
This is an old Roman fishing town that’s accessible by train from Marseilles. The station is at the top of a hill, and the walk down is superb – through a vineyard-lined road with views over the town and the sea. The town is very pleasant to wander around and is home to the wines which share its name. The best feature, however, lies in a boat trip around the bay; here you can see what are known as the Calanques. They are a series of mini fjords with rock formations of the most amazing shades and hues, set off by the blue of the sea and sky.
Take the coast road (GR98) east from Marseilles or the Marseilles – Toulon train
The best bouillabaisse in the town that invented it. A bit dearer than its competitors, but just ask the locals why they eat here. Share one between two for €32 - unless you're really hungry - and wash it down with chilled Côtes-du-Rhône rosé.
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