Marseille foodie guide: where locals eat and drink
Soak up the southern French sun in this multicultural coastal city with red mullet with chickpea fries, matcha mille-feuille and a glass or two of rosé
Looking for Marseille restaurants? Want to know where to eat in the Southern French city? Digital editor Alex Crossley shares her tips for the best restaurants in Marseille, from Marseille Old Port (Vieux Port) to traditional fishing haven Vallon des Auffes and the bohemian Cours Julien area.
Hop on the Eurostar from King's Cross St Pancras (why not add on an extra night at groovy new opening The Standard, reviewed here by our experts) and ride it all the way down to Provence for fresh seafood, Provenćal wines and Middle Eastern food.
olive's top 10 foodie spots in Marseille
Madame Jeanne – for bistro vibes
Head to modern bistro Madame Jeanne for clams in pancetta and sherry, confit veal with homemade gnocchi, and pistou soup with roast tomatoes and courgette flowers. Organic wines come from the adjoining shop, including orange wines from the Languedoc and pale Provençal rosé.
Patisserie Sylvain Depuichaffray – for patisserie
Join the queue outside Patisserie Sylvain Depuichaffray to choose exquisitely formed cakes such as green tea and strawberry millefeuille, or the “passionately chocolate”, made with passion fruit cream, dark chocolate and feuilletine.
Café de l’Abbaye – for apéro
Head to atmospheric Café de l’Abbaye to join locals as they spill out onto the pavement to enjoy apéritifs with a view of the sun setting over the Vieux Port. Go Provençal and pair pastis with spiced chickpea fritters.
Chicoulon – for wine
At sleek wine shop Chicoulon, Edouard Mireur and his sister Fanny source unique bottles from France and beyond, as well as stocking their own red, white and rosé wines. It’s worth lingering for chef Tomi’s seasonal lunches, served in the shop’s pretty courtyard – think cod with greek yogurt and spiced potatoes, quail with roasted veg and fennel soup.
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Boîte à Sardine – for seafood
Lively seafood spot Boîte à Sardine is decorated with sardine tins, hunks of driftwood and old buoys. Here,the day’s catch is turned into simple pescatarian marvels such as calamari fried with Espelette pepper, red mullet with chickpea fries, sardines with herbs and super-fresh oysters.
Saladin Épices du Monde – for spices
Stock up on almost every spice imaginable at Noailles district’s Saladin Épices du Monde, including myriad salt and pepper varieties (we counted 46 of the former and more than 50 of the latter), Provençal herb mixes and lavender honey.
00 33 4 91 33 22 76
Épicerie L’Idéal – for deli lunch
Chic deli Épicerie L’Idéal is a trove of Mediterranean produce. Squeeze in around tables between shelves of olive oil and counters brimming with cured sausages and reblochon cheese, and tuck into focaccia studded with roast onions, stracciatella and Tuscan ham, or coffee and flourless chocolate cake.
La Bonne Mère – for pizza
Italian food, particularly pizza, is extremely popular in Marseille, and in-the-know foodies mark La Bonne Mère as the spot of the moment. Favourites to take away – or eat in at the cosy restaurant – include simple but flavourful toppings such as anchovies, cherry tomatoes and olives, gorgonzola and ham, or sun-dried tomatoes and pesto.
Where to stay in Marseille – The Maison Montgrand
The Maison Montgrand – a hotel, café and shop in the Vieux Port – makes a great base for a visit. Sit in its colourful courtyard café and enjoy a gourmet ice lolly from local brand Emkipop (flavours include autumnal apple and pear with tonka bean), or shelter inside with a cake from top pâtissier Clément Higgins.
Other places to eat and drink in Marseille
Fish market – for fresh fish
Head to the Vieux Port (old port) – where superyachts bob alongside fishing boats. Here, at the small fish market (8am-1pm daily), species of alien- and not-so-alien-looking fish are sold from the calloused hands of those who caught them early the same morning.
L'Escale Marine – for al fresco drinks
Also at the Old Port waterfront is L’Escale Marine (22 quai du Port, 00 33 49 191 6742), a café and bar where shelves are lined with Provençal specialities, and outside tables are busy with punters sipping La Cagole, the city’s beer.
Chez Madie les Galinettes – for seafood
Further along the waterside at Chez Madie les Galinettes (138 quai du Port, 00 33 49 190 4087), tuck into a dish of clams, thick with cream, mustard and fresh thyme before hopping up some steps to Le Panier, the city’s tightly woven old town.
Vanille et Noire – for ice cream
At Vanille et Noire get your hands on an almost mythical black ice cream made with vanilla and sea salt. Its maker, Nicolas Decitre, won’t reveal the recipe, but it’s said to get its colouring from algae. Whether that’s true or not, it’s sensational.
Les Navettes des Accoules – for navettes biscuits
At bakery Les Navettes des Accoules try navettes, biscuits shaped like little boats, local to Marseille, that are made without yeast and flavoured with fleur d’orange. You can buy bags of these as well as cucciole – crunchy, wine-scented biscuits from Corsica.
Viaghji di Fonfon – for aperitif
Viaghji di Fonfon does well-priced wine, meat terrines, potted prawns and roasted vegetables from between €5 and €7 a dish. There are a few tables, but you can take cushions and plonk them by the harbour outside.
Chez Jeannot – for pizza
Settle at the Vallon’s Chez Jeannot with an anchovy and olive pizza (Marseille is famous for pizza; there are food trucks with wood ovens selling it all over the city), mesmerised by a spectacular view of the sun setting under the arches of the bridge across Corniche du John Fitzgerald Kennedy.
Restaurant AM – budget-friendly Michelin starred restaurant
At Restaurant AM you begin to understand why those in the know suggest bypassing bouillabaisse if you’re on a budget. Bowls of bouillabaisse regularly sell for €50 a head, but here, at lunchtime, €35 buys you four amuses-bouche and eight courses of the most technically-adept cooking, each little plate an artistic and palatable paean to the regional larder.
The kitchen produces dazzling stuff. Black bread (coloured with powdered carbon) is light and served with lemon butter. A crusty walnut biscuit comes with red pepper and lemon, and scattered with tiny petals. There are marinated salmon eggs with smoked milk, and sea bream with candied bacon and white chocolate, and a rainbow of a plate with cod, squash, carrot and wild cress. It may be fantastical food assembled with tweezers, but the tastes produced are astonishing. And perfectly framed by the restaurant’s small, zen-like dining room and open kitchen.
How to get to Marseille
Make the most of the generous baggage allowance and travel to Marseille by Eurostar. You can now go direct from London to Marseille on Eurostar in 6 hours, 49 minutes. Single train fares from London St Pancras to Avignon start at £55 (eurostar.com).
This feature was published in August 2015 and updated in September 2019
Written by Alex Crossley, Audrey Gillan
Photographs by Alex Crossley, Getty