With three friends from Paris we travelled to Marseille to celebrate our 20th friendship-birthday. Marseille was an easy choice: sun, sea, good food, great people and cocktails. Only 3 hours away from Paris by TGV, 2 hours flight away from Amsterdam, the perfect destination to go from cold and rain to sun and blue sky. In March!
In this post I share the adresses we tested. Those 3 friends always know where to go and whom to know, I just followed them, fully unprepared. Which they were as well, since they are French.
If you arrive by plane, use the “navette”, which brings you in 30 minutes and for 10€ to the heart of Marseille, the Gare Saint Charles. Marseille is the 2nd city of France but feels “small” since the center itself is not that big. If you come here for the first time, you could focus on the areas near to the Vieux Port, that’s where we stayed in an air bnb. Check out our view!
In the Rue Sainte you will find many nice bars and restaurants, among which La Ruche where we were quickly surrounded by many friendly “Marseillais”. So I can’t really tell everything but I did have some more followers on my instagram. The atmosphere is casual and anti-hip, good wine, good cocktails and they serve tapas (which we should had done, eat first).
128 rue Sainte || La Ruche
This well-hidden treasure has opened its doors only a year ago and is run by ex-Parisian Maxime Taccoen who also owns Dr Max (a healthy & vegan restaurant). Very good coffee (if you see a Marzocco coffee machine nothing can go wrong) and delicious homemade pastry, For breakfast, lunch or just a coffee.
23 rue Saint-Saëns || Ginger
Imagine you had a tough night and you don’t feel like walking 15 minutes to cross the harbor…then use the small boat which brings you from Le Vieux Port to Le Panier. 50 cents, to be payed in cash. Stay awake, it takes 42 seconds to get there.
One of Marseille’s most photogenetic area’s. Small streets, shops selling savons de Marseille (like Le Bazar de Cesar), galeries, lots of street art and square’s like the Place des Pistoles with several nice restaurants. Ideal spot to test the local dish La Panisse, I loved it. This is a recipy from a true Marseillaise
Maison Empereur is heaven on earth. The authenticity of this quincaillerie from 1827 (one of the toughest words to pronounce and translate, it’s like a household tool shop) has become a strong brand and place to be. I first entered the fairly new corner shop selling clothes and my heart went boom. Sweaters from Brittany, Ireland, boots, Saint James,… In the main building right across the street, you can buy just anything: pots and pans, brooms, dishes, soaps, bathrobes, toys, perfume, locks, knives,… And have a rest at the well-hidden tearoom on the 3rd floor ( if you survive the dangerous stairs)
4, rue des Récolettes || Maison Empereur
Nice small café, selling great coffee, a great souvenir to bring back home. Only 7 tabels outside. No website which is a good sign. Next to the shopping street Rue Breteuil.
46 Rue Francis Davso
Café de l’Abbye
This is definitely a place where locals meet. And of course, my friends met someone they knew, Georges, more about him later. You just have to see the sunset here and test the view on the Vieux Port.
Maison Jeanne in Maison Buon
Absolute hotspot! It just opened, so even in Marseille, not that well known yet. It’s a building with the restaurant Madame Jeanne, a beautiful patio, pop up stores, a wine bar, a few apartments in making and all kind of happenings. We tested the restaurant which we absolutely loved. Book beforehand, we had the last table available, the place was packed. An absolute must go to. Their website is still under construction…
Maison Buon || 86 rue Grignan
The final visit of the evening, cocktail bar Gaspard. You can open the door yourself (so don’t wait for any bouncer..:) by pushing the small button on the right. It’s a tiny and crowded place but there is a first floor, tiny as well but cozy. Please bear in mind you will have to take these stairs again to leave the building….ps. I bought this beautiful ring at Maison Empereur, made by a local artist called René Gouin (absent from social media, fantastic!).
7 Boulevard Notre Dame
“il est 11h42, c’est l’heure de l’apero” (it’s 11h42, time to drink), dixit Georges, who we met last night at the terrace of the Bar de l’Abbye. Georges designs and fabricated the most beautiful handbags ever, with his brand Le Sellier. I knew them from trendy stores such as Centre Commercial and Merci in Paris, but today he picked us up to show us his Marseille, especially the coast part: restaurant Le Peron, the new hotel Les Bords de Mer, the luxurious Le Petit Nice, the fisher-harbor Vallon des Auges,.. Tip: go to the Plage des Prophetes and order a great meal through Uber Eat.
And then, unfortunately, we had to go home, but with a long to-do list for our next trip to Marseille: Le Mucem, La Cité Radieuse, the outside terrace of the Radisson in summer, the bar of the Hotel Intercontinental, Notre Dame de la Garde,..
On these blogs you will find other insider tips:
Text and pictures by Renée Koudstaal
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