Wednesday, August 16, 2023

36 Hours in Marseille

 Trip date: September 2022

After a week in Paris, I headed south with my friends Forest and Cliodhna, for a little weekend in Marseille. Even though we had a 7:30 am train ( SO EARLY!) out of Gare du Lyon, I was excited to return to Marseille; my last visit had been in 2010! 

It's a very pretty 3 hour train trip down to the oldest city in France, and the weather was lovely. We brought mimosa makings on board and had a little breakfast picnic. Once we arrived at the main station it was an easy walk to our Airbnb in the Opera neighborhood, which is right near the old port. It was only 11am but we were able to leave our bags at the key pick up place until check in.

You don't go to Marseille without eating bouillabaisse and we were headed to the 70+ year old family restaurant Chez Fonfon to have ours for lunch. Fonfon is in the tiny port of Vallon des Auffes which is just a short Uber ride away. We somehow scored a very posh Cadillac SUV Uber that was decked out with party lights and leather pillows on the seats! Fancy! 

Bouillabaisse is serious business in these parts and there are traditions that are followed religiously by local chefs. Typically the dish must contain 4 species of fish, one must be the bony rockfish rascasse, and all fish must come from the Mediterranean Sea and caught that day. 

First, you are served a bowl of the broth, heavily flavored with saffron, which you eat with rouille, a spicy aioli which you spread on toasted bread and float on the bouillabaisse. Then they will bring you your cooked fish and more broth so you can have it all together. It's not the prettiest dish but oh my it is delicious!! 

After lunch, we walked around a bit and had some wine at a little bar overlooking the Mediterranean, watching the swimmers and sunbathers on the rocks. It was a lovely afternoon!

We headed back to check into our Airbnb and grab our luggage. The space was very pretty and the location was just perfect. We walked that evening to the speakeasy Carry Nation for cocktails.
This spot was a big hit with all of us. Sometimes speakeasies can be quite pretentious but the staff was wonderful and the drinks were great. Also the menu had a Ramos Gin Fizz on it, and if you put that on your menu I am 100% ordering it without apology.
It was a stunner!!

From here we headed to Copper Bay; a favorite of mine in Paris so I was very happy to check out their Marseille location. No surprise that the cocktails were fab!
The next morning we walked along the old port; the area has been spruced up quite a bit since my last visit, there's now a mirrored roof over the fish and flower vendors, lending an arty vibe. 

On the other side of the port there are lots of little kiosks selling local products and souvenirs. It's all very cute and bustling. And right across the street was our lunch destination, La Caravelle


Inside the adorable old bistro, we scored a window table with incredible views of the cathedral across the harbor. Pastis was ordered, and rosé, and we had an absolutely wonderful lunch. My salad of melons, feta, jambon, and olives was crazy good and only €15!

After lunch we continued our walk all the way to the end of the port to the Saint John Fort and the MuCEM (Musée des Civilisations de l'Europe et de la Méditerranée). Walking on the ramparts around the fort give you amazing views of the city in all directions. 

Once you've made your way around you'll see the MuCEM, it's an absolutely stunning building! We didn't go inside but we walked across the (high and slightly scary) bridge and had a drink on their terrace. 

This is a great walk! Highly recommend!

From here we walked back through the port area of town and made our way to the Intercontinental/ Hotel Dieu. It's a gorgeous grand old hotel and Capian Bar turns out very delicious martinis. 

We chose to have ours on the terrace with another great view of the cathedral. It's really a beautiful spot for a drink.

The entire weekend had been very sunny and warm but as we walked back to our Airbnb the skies turned dark and the wind kicked up. It was pretty dramatic!

That evening we had a very good dinner at Ourea, a charming neighborhood restaurant filled with locals. 5 courses for €52! 
As we were finishing dinner a MASSIVE rainstorm happened! The streets started flooding and Forest and I remembered a similar night in New Orleans years ago! Even though our apartment was just blocks away, there was no way we were braving that in our dresses and heels! Thanks Uber! Our walking in Marseille was officially over.

We had a few nightcaps back at ours and said our goodbyes to Cliodhna as Forest and I had a 9am flight to Corsica the next morning and would be out the door quite early.

I had been wanting to go back to Marseille for years, in fact Forest and I originally had a trip scheduled in May of 2020... we know how that went. It was so good to be back and so fun to be with these two lovely ladies! 

All Marseille photos here.







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