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Marseille Gastronomic Gem Of Southern France

bouillabaisse-marseille

Marseille is a city that takes its food rather seriously. You’d be forgiven for thinking that no one works in Marseille as restaurants seem to be permanently busy and lunch goes on for three hours. A waiter working a busy bar in the old port had words of wisdom to share on the matter, “The sun is shining, the food is good, people want to enjoy this bountiful goodness in our lovely town…” well, you can’t blame them for that can you?!

Marseille is like Rome meets Istanbul with a unique Mediterranean and French flavour. You’ll find all manner of restaurants selling everything from kebabs to bouillabaisse, the local speciality, a mouth-watering spicy fish stew that’s crammed with fish and flavour.

Bouillabaisse is expensive to eat if it’s made properly and a lot of restaurants will only offer it for two or more people, so if you’re a solo traveller check ahead. You should expect to pay around €40 euros per head for a really good bouillabaisse and the restaurants around the quay often aren’t rated by the locals for their authentic servings. But, it’s hard to resist the location, especially at night when the lights twinkle in the harbour as pleasure boats bob at their moorings and the air is heady with the ambience of this sunny town.

oursins marseille

If you just want a snack in the Vieux Port area, nip into the streets that lead off the main esplanade and you’ll find cheaper restaurants where the locals eat.

La Panier, Marseille

The old town, known as La Panier, is a great place for lunch (not so much for dinner, less choice). It is pretty, artistic and atmospheric and there are several quirky and charming cafés. The locals like it here and it has a reputation for being “bobo” – bohemian bourgeoise.

navettes-marseille

Have a nibble on a navette! This is an orange flower flavoured biscuit shaped like a small boat. Best place to buy them Le Four des Navettes, the oldest bakery in Marseilles, opposite the Abbey of Saint-Victor where they’ve been baking them since 1781 in the same oven they’ve used for the last 230 years. Nobody knows quite how the navette came to be such a local speciality but some say that the biscuit represents the boat which brought the first Saints to Provence. Whatever their origin, they’re delicious little snacks and locals will queue for an age to buy them at this famous boulangerie – usually by the dozen.

Tourist Office Marseille website has a great search facility for restaurants – by area, by type of food and type of restaurant.

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