In Marseilles, you can get the impression that wine is far away. However, it is here that some 2600 years ago, the Phoceans, who were the first to cultivate vines in the region, landed. The Saint-Victor Abbey, on the North flank of the Old Port, was thus, between the VIth and XIIth centuries, one of the oldest places where the vine was cultivated. Today, few traces survive, but a recent initiative has undertaken to replant vines in the Abbey’s park.
Facing the sea, the town, whose sulphurous reputation precedes it, is slowly transforming itself and offers some private stop-offs… a well kept secret.
Before heading to the MUCEM and the Regional Centre of the Mediterranean on the J4 esplanade, go to the Panier for a stroll at the heart of the one of the nicest quarters in Marseilles.
La Vieille Charité. This beautiful historical building, a former hospice, puts on great temporary exhibitions. 2 Rue de la Charité.
Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde Basilica. Known by everyone around here as the «Good Mother», it looks over the city from 150 m above sea-level. The panoramic view from its esplanade over the Blue coast and the islands is quite breathtaking. A Virgin with child radiates from the top of its tower with its gold leaves. Inside, the basilica has been completely restored and the polychrome marble paving and mosaics rival each other in their splendour. Rue Fort du Sanctuaire.
MuCeM. Marseille owns a museum that looks like her. Suspended between sky and water, floating at the entrance of the Old Port of Marseilles, successful concrete structure looking at the open sea, MuCEM is more than a museum, a cultural city mobilizing the artistic expressions of the two shores of the Mediterranean. 1 Esplanade J4
The Château d’If. Access to this little Island-prison, from which the famous Count of Monte-Cristo escaped, is on a shuttle boat from the Old Port. From there, you can also access the Island of Frioul (where you can swim). www.frioul-if-express.com
La Corniche. A long avenue overlooking the sea, La Corniche offers some idyllic viewpoints and some choice addresses for a stop on the edge of the water. Further along, as if at the edge of the world, one can escape towards Les Goudes (Le Petit Port Restaurant, a gourmet and design stop towards Les Goudes – route des Goudes lieu dit l’escalette), the Bay of Monkeys and the mini port of Callelongue for a timeless stop.
Les Calanques. They are unmissable. Sormiou, Morgiou and Sugiton stand tall as the Phocean pearls. The scenery is quite beautiful: sky blue sea, clear waters and dazzling white limestone cliffs.
Vinonéo. This cozy restaurant with terrace is simple, fresh and always up to date. For each plate the owner suggests a wine pairing and will be pleased to explain her choice. 6 Place Daviel. Tel.: 04 91 90 40 26.
Le 29 Place aux Huiles. A small wine restaurant with a terrace, simple and fresh, which always meets expectations. Each dish is matched to a wine (by the glass) and the charming owner will be delighted to come over and explain his choice to you. 6 Place Daviel, Tel.: +33 4 91 90 40 26.www.29placeauxhuiles.com
La Cantine. A restaurant with a nicely stocked cellar, fine foods and a lounge atmosphere mixing contemporary furniture and stone walls. Just the right touch of chic.
29 place aux Huiles, Tel.: +33 4 91 33 26 44.
Les Trois Forts. A very nice place for lunch dinner with produce sourced from the region, as well as Corsica or Italy. 27 Cours Estienne d’Orves, Tel.: +33 4 91 33 37 08.
Le Petit Nice.At last a restaurant with three Michelin stars in Marseille, in a magnificent setting, dedicated to the produce from the sea. Anse de Maldormé, Corniche J.F. Kennedy ; Tel.: +33 4 91 59 25 92.
La Casa Honoré. A stunning art deco guest house arranged around a courtyard with a pool, right at the heart of the city. Also a shop, we love the selection of great design pieces, always elegant and original. 123 Rue Sainte; Tel.: +33 6 09 50 38 52.www.casahonore.com
Don’t miss out on going to the Four des Navetteswhere you’ll unearth authentic ‘navettes’ from Marseille. 136 Rue Sainte; Tel.: +33 4 91 33 32 12.www.fourdesnavettes.com
In the Goudes, make a gourmet stop Restaurant Le Petit Port. Here, you will taste the traditional bouillabaisse and delicious mediterranean fishes, Route des Goudes, lieu-dit l’escalette. Tel.: 08 99 96 58 33. restaurant-le-petit-port.fr