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Marseille is for Foodies

Marseille is for Foodies

Marseille wasn’t high on my list of places to visit. A weekend spent there celebrating the birthday of a dear friend from Uzès totally changed my mind. On top of being a wonderful city with lovely, welcoming people, Marseille is for foodies like me.

I’ve been to Marseille on several occasions since living in Uzès. Once to the warehouse district to claim a shipment and more than once to the airport. Neither area offers the best of the city. I heard that Marseille is for foodies, especially bouillabaisse, that called me back.

Is it food that makes Marseille so appealing to millions of travelers?

 

Marseille is for Foodies

Food in Marseille is as varied as the people: French, Italian, Spanish, Indian, Middle Eastern, African, North and South, Central Americans, and more. Restaurants and cafes are on nearly every street and corner. There are over 1000 listed on TripAdvisor, including fifteen Michelin-star restaurants. Along Le Vieux Port, where we stayed for the weekend, places to eat lined side by side.

My first meal in Marseille was a seafood medley at La Brasserie du Port. The waterfront restaurant was right below our hotel, Grand Hôtel Beauvau Marseille Vieux-Port. The fresh, beautifully prepared seafood and the service couldn’t have been better. The view from the brasserie’s terrace — the architectural masterpiece by Norman Foster against the background of the ancient port — was stunning.

Marseille is for Foodies

On her special day, the birthday girl’s meal selection was eclectic and international — Indian for lunch and Columbian for dinner. Palais du Maharaja,  chosen by TripAdvisor, was the perfect place to satisfy our appetites for Indian food.

… Indian Food

Marseille is for Foodies

… “Little Istanbul”

Even though it rained during part of our stay in Marseille, it didn’t keep us from wandering the streets near Le Vieux Port. A shop overflowing with bins and bags of Turkish delicacies stopped us in our tracks. We loaded up on dried fruits, spices, teas, and candies to take back. And we laughed a lot!

Marseille is for Foodies

… Street Food

Somehow, the rain in Marseille made the atmosphere even more picturesque and exciting. Food vendors and cafes were open for business and were happy to see us.

 

One stop for tea and coffee ended up in a karaoke! The proprietor thought I looked like Petula Clark. We all started singing “Downtown”! What fun!

Marseille is for Foodies

… Bouillabaisse!

I was really looking forward to a bowl of bouillabaisse. Who can go to Marseille without tasting it?

You need to book reservations two days in advance for some restaurants to prepare this Marseille favorite. Be sure to plan ahead. We chose to try the bouillabaisse at Grand Bar des Goudes in Le Goudes, a  village outside Marseille. The tiny town is in a district of Marseille on the way to the Calanques. We knew it would take a couple of hours to drive to Le Goudes on a Sunday. It didn’t help that throngs of people in cars, on bikes, and on foot were heading that way after three days cooped up in the rain. Yes, we were late for our reservations, but the drive along the winding road and the views of Marseille were worth the hassle.

 

The view of the fishing harbor from the restaurant in Goudes was unique, too.

Marseille is for Foodies

 

Back to the main attraction — the bouillabaisse. 

Bouillabaisse is a provençal fish stew traditionally created by the fishermen of Marseilles. It was concocted to use up the bony rockfish they’d caught along the Calanques that they couldn’t sell.

According to the Michelin Guide Vert, “the four essential elements of a true bouillabaisse are the presence of rascals, the freshness of the fish; olive oil, and an excellent saffron.” American chef and author Julia Child wrote in her book My Life in France: “To me, the telling flavor of bouillabaisse comes from two things: the Provençal soup base — garlic, onions, tomatoes, olive oil, fennel, saffron, thyme, bay, and usually a bit of dried orange peel — and, of course, the fish — lean (non-oily), firm-fleshed, soft-fleshed, gelatinous, and shellfish.”

Not all bouillabaisse is created equal. The variety I sampled was missing some of the shellfish. I’m considering that the “perfect” bouillabaisse may be waiting for me. A good enough reason to return to Marseille, don’t you agree?

 

Did you know there’s a proper way to serve and eat bouillabaisse?

Have you been to Marseille? Do you have a favorite restaurant? Where’s the best place for the bouillabaisse? Please let me know. I will return! 

Day trip from Uzes to the Cevennes

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