A FEW DAYS IN MARSEILLE
This is the story of one large city, almost a million inhabitants, with all that makes cities great: density, infrastructure, traffic jams, improbable urban planning, diversity, services and culture. But this city is set on the Mediterranean, like a rough diamond, sparkling and surreal. An astonishing city, with a reputation on the rough side, also a trendy and fashionable city, where all Parisians in search of a new life seem to want to settle. How not to desire it? To live in a real city, but a bit like living 365 days a year in a postcard of sunshine, unspoilt beaches, boats to take on a whim, laughter and exuberant mixtures. This city exists and it is fascinating: Marseille. Here is our declaration of love to its style and spirit.
IN MARSEILLE, WALKING WITH YOUR NOSE TO THE WIND
The Marseille we know is necessarily a partial vision of the reality of this teeming city, it would probably take a thousand lifetimes to tame this world-city, which had such an influence on France, and the most powerful city in the Mediterranean for so long, which rivalled Genoa and Venice, eternal rivals! Between old districts such as Noailles, which we love for its incredible melting pot, and spectacular new urban developments such as the ZAC Littorale, we are not sure how to find our way through this architectural labyrinth, and so much the better, we let ourselves be carried away, following the trail of a few addresses that are unanimously appreciated.
A must-do for our trips to Marseille, some mythical places like the Cité Radieuse, because it remains the most fascinating of Le Corbusier’s buildings and a photographer’s delight. You can even sleep there and above all visit the super MaMo, a contemporary art centre created by Ora-Ito with a very rich programme.
Of course, we also visit the MUCEM, where there is always something interesting going on, even if we admit we are primarely attracted by its lavish concrete lace architecture.
FILLING YOUR SUITCASES WITH WONDERS
Well-known, well-coveted, we assume we love Maison Empereur, the oldest hardware store in France, so chic. We bring back soaps and herbal teas for everyone. Until the end of June (2023), we’re off to Marianne Cat (53 rue Grignan) at the Jamini pop-up to stock up on table and bed linen made in India with ancestral craft traditions under the impetus of the talented Usha Bora, with whom we are proud to have collaborated.
Another magical address is that of Sarah Espeute, creator of the brand Oeuvres Sensibles (the workshop can be visited by appointment), who rehabilitates old household linen with enchanting surrealist embroidery.
TO MAKE THE MOST OF MARSEILLE
One of the great pleasures of Marseille is to find a spot to take a dip in the Mediterranean, and there are countless options, in the city centre or a little further afield, and even if certain places, notably in the calanque, are notably busy.
Obviously the most beautiful calanque remains that of Sourmiou with its water of an unreal transparency and we dream of having a cabanon there to be able to visit in VIP conditions.
The Figuerolles calanque, a little further towards La Ciotat, is also very charming and we really like the RIF (République Indépendante de Figuerolles) restaurant especially in the evening, the place is quite magical.
For an exceptional culinary experience Alexandre Mazzia’s AM restaurant has become the golden address in Marseille and even if the prices have increased with the accumulation of stars (3 now!) it is the perfect place to create memorable souvenirs (it is one of the few French restaurants to be listed in the top 100 restaurants in the world).
Equally exciting and far more affordable, buy a pizza at L’Eau à la Bouche in Malmousque after a swim and sit on the rocks for a magical picnic. For the sunset, head to the Cabanon de Paulette in Montredon.
And the ultimate sublime spot, the Tuba Club in Les Goudes, ultra desirable and trendy, the perfect place to have dinner or even, if possible, spend the night.
Another superb address to settle down for a few days, Casa Youm, halfway between the Moroccan riad and the Italian villa, concentrates all the eclectic charm of Marseille.
And to keep the night going until the early hours, head to the Friche la Belle de Mai for a memorable rooftop evening.
The Phocaean city has it all, between evergreen clichés and extraordinary sceneries, it’s a city you can’t get enough of, discovering each time new corners, and its revival on the tourist, cultural and architectural scene is well deserved.