For a long time locked up in a pagan caricature, Marseille is attracting more and more travellers charmed by its rough character and the undeniable beauty of its landscapes between the calanques and the garrigue. For some years now, the city has been undergoing a major change.
With its heavenly coves, small fishing ports, authentic restaurants, houses and buildings with rough architecture… Marseille is not lacking in character. Some may say “love it or hate it”, but whatever the case, it does not leave you indifferent. Especially in summer, when the sun shines on the Mediterranean and dinners on the terrace are a must.
The city has gone from being a messy and flashy caricature to the new Eldorado of the prescriber tribes. The cagole enthroned by Simon Porte Jacquemus, the rappers who make the whole country dance, the new cool spots are now growing there faster than the palm trees. Just look at the resounding success of Tuba, a former diving school transformed by Marion Mailaender into a minimalist hotel. Facing the creeks of Les Goudes, the restaurant welcomes, this season in residence, the chefs Sylvain Roucayrol and Paul Henri Bayart (Caché). Inspired by the local soil and the recipes of the Aegean, the tandem offers a beautiful Greek salad, crispy calamari, crudos, smoked bass on the barbecue or even pastised cabbage. More and more artists are also taking up residence here.
Here is a guided tour of the best addresses to (re)discover this summer.
Hotels in Marseille
Jogging SamenaBook now
Olivier Amsellem and Charlotte Brunet behind the Jogging concept store inaugurated last summer a small minimalist cabin in the middle of the Samena cove. In a mezzogiornian atmosphere, visitors discover a room dressed in old stone, with patinated floor tiles and minimal furniture (including an old-fashioned bath). Outside, a tiled pool allows guests to refresh themselves and the terrace is the perfect place to dine by candlelight.
Les Bords de MerBook now
Clinging to the Corniche, the hotel Les Bords de Mer has pitched its tent a few metres from the Catalans beach. Within the walls of a former motel, a little bit in its original state, it has become, under the leadership of Frédéric Biousse and Guillaume Foucher, a little Art Deco nugget. And if the Marseille architect Yvann Pluskwa has perfectly preserved its listed façade, the interior has been entirely revamped. There are 19 rooms, all with terraces or balconies, all of which are dreamy vantage points from which to admire the sailboats sailing around the Frioul. A new swimming pool on the roof. A restaurant with a view, where the emphasis is on Mediterranean cuisine and where the rosé wine comes from the Lourmarin vineyards. But also a spa offering Balinese massages and Ren Skincare organic treatments.
At the foot of the water in Les Goudes, a corner of Marseille renowned for its creeks and its fishing port with a joyful atmosphere, this former diving school was transformed into a hotel with character in July 2020. Decorated by Marion Mailaender, an architect with good taste who grew up not far from there in Le Corbusier’s Cité Radieuse, the place has five rooms and a restaurant that specialises in clam pasta and panisse fries. Faced with a panorama of indisputable beauty, the luxury here lies in a refreshingly simple way of life. As soon as they wake up, visitors stretch out facing the Rade and its string of rocky islands. The days are spent at the edge of turquoise coves and end around and end around beautiful tables. With always this Mediterranean picture which explores all the of the palette, from dawn to dusk, as a backdrop.
Pavillon SouthwayBook now
Inspired by the Red House of William Morris, a leading figure in the Arts & Crafts movement, or Jean Cocteau’s Villa Santo Sospir, Emmanuelle Luciani has just opened Pavillon Southway in the Mazargues district. A curator and historian, she and her artists’ collective have created a 19th century décor full of colourful frescoes and traditional lime coatings (including a hood made by Bella Hunt & DDC). A residence for creative souls, there is also a room for rent on the first floor, which allows you to immerse yourself for a whole night in this house-work.
Restaurants in Marseille
A confidential address, AM is the latest project of Alexandre Mazzia, a jack-of-all-trades chef who has started a small culinary revolution in Marseille. Hidden in an alleyway in the 8th arrondissement, this high-flying restaurant relies on a raw decoration with its concrete walls and oak parquet flooring, reminding us that the important thing is to eat. Without a menu, lunches and dinners are served according to the spontaneous desires of the chef, who likes to blur the lines with his recipes based on the sea and a seasonal vegetable garden, without forgetting a few African influences from his childhood spent in Pointe-Noire.
A newcomer to the Phocaean landscape, Coquille has pitched its tent next to the old port. A marine bistro with a welcoming atmosphere, you can sit on its beautiful azure terrace before discovering the menu of Marine Bottari and Jules Mollaret. Offering beautiful platters of seafood and other grilled fish, the place also offers double pizzas (half anchovy-tomato, half gourmet cheese), mussels and chips or fish. The icing on the cake? Porquerolles wine and homemade profiteroles.
La MercerieBook now
Awarded this year by Le Fooding, with the prize for the best sophistroquet of 2019, La Mercerie is one of the good food addresses to know in Marseille. Led by Laura Vidal (The Paris Popup), and Julia Mitton, the chef Harry Cummins (formerly of Frenchie) is more inspired than ever. Making it a point of honour to use only fresh and seasonal products, you can enjoy octopus salads with old tomatoes, cucumbers in granita, grilled mackerel served with fish eggs… Good and fresh.
Otto is the latest culinary project of Stéphanie Nardoca and Pierre-Antoine Denis. In a refined trattoria decor, the place focuses on Mediterranean cuisine with transalpine influences. On the menu? Wild clams from the Camargue, creamy burrata drizzled with olive oil, linguine with crab meat and bisque, and gourmet ice cream with fior di latte and melted chocolate.
Shopping in Marseille
Run by Olivier Amsellem and Charlotte Brunet, Jogging has been spreading its cool aura throughout Marseille since it opened. This cutting-edge concept store features creations by Jacquemus, Gosha Rubchinskiy and J.W. Anderson, as well as vintage furniture by Pierre Jeanneret, objects by Moustache and Aesop cosmetics. The best part? Its pop-up restaurant with its charming terrace.
If you like urban fashion, this is the place for you. Between vintage pieces, upcycling and merchandise collections, you can find patchwork Carhartt jackets as well as the timeless denim jacket. Also to be found: university sweatshirts, sneakers galore and even 90’s glasses straight from Bella Hadid’s wardrobe. In short, it’s all the codes of streetwear that you can discover in this Marseilles second-hand store imagined by Cyril and Driss, two vintage lovers. And for the anecdote, Simon Porte Jacquemus has even come and gone.
Run by Caroline and Mathias, two fashion enthusiasts, Mercato offers a beautiful selection of vintage fashion pieces just a stone’s throw from the Cours Julien. To discover? Jean Paul Gaultier, Gucci, Blumarine or Versace dresses, there is something for everyone.
Lavender Marseille soap, vintage baskets, fish-shaped ceramics, flower candies, ostrich feather duster, candles from the Ciergerie des Prémontrés, tinned copper pans … The oldest and most charming French hardware store continues to attract crowds with its iconic products dedicated to the home. The plus? A new extension upstairs specialising in interior design. But also a charming tea room.
What to do in Marseille?
The Bay of the MonkeysBook now
To reach this private beach of character, head for Les Goudes, in the extreme south of Marseille. By way of the sea or a steep rocky path, La Baie des Singes takes up residence on the edge of a turquoise cove, right next to the imposing Île Maire. With a handful of orange deckchairs set into the rock, visitors come to enjoy the breathtaking scenery as well as the fish restaurant, stocked with the day’s catch. Please note that reservations are required.
The MAMO of the Cité RadieusesEnd you the address
A symbol of 1950s architecture and incidentally one of Le Corbusier’s most iconic works, the Cité Radieuse is located in the Sainte-Anne district. Named Unité d’Habitation by the Swiss architect and renamed “la maison du Fada” by local residents, the building has been home to the MAMO created by Ora-ïto for the past five years. The current exhibition is dedicated to Daniel Arsham.
Le Mucemthe program
For its jagged modernist architecture, but also for the latest Jean Dubuffet exhibition, currently on display, the Mucem is a must-see when visiting Marseille. Opened in June 2013, it houses a conservation centre, partly open to the public, teeming with a multitude of treasures acquired in the course of the 2000s, but also from the Museums of Popular Arts and Traditions and the Musée de l’Homme, as well as the building designed by Rudy Ricciotti on the former J4 port pier and the restored Fort Saint-Jean.
With its breathtaking panorama of the Mediterranean, the R2 rooftop attracts, at nightfall, a nice crowd of people who come to admire the sunset, sip cocktails or dance. With a particularly specialised music programme, the place has quickly earned a solid reputation as a place-to-be, especially in the middle of summer.