Hope you guys are having a sweaty, salty summer (or if you’re in the Southern hemisphere, are sipping a big mug of tea). I’m home in balmy Hong Kong until mid-August, but am here to check in with some bits from a recent trip. Audrey visited me in London last month, and we decided to take a trip to Marseille and Aix en Provence (more on the latter later). Marseille has a bit of a bad reputation– upon telling friends we were visiting as a (pretty timid looking) pair of Asian girls, we got a few concerned warnings. If you’re a smart enough traveller, there isn’t anything to worry about. Don’t expect it to be anything like other French cities– albeit unembellished and grittier than Paris or Nice, its a melting pot of cultures with a side of seaside laziness that made our trip very special. Here are some photos from our days in Marseille, which sandwiched a few nights in Aix, and some of our favourite addresses to eat, shop, sightsee, eat, and eat.
We travelled to Marseille from London by Eurostar and train via Paris– this requires a stealth changeover from Paris’ Gare du Nord to its Gare du Lyon. In spite of this, I consider myself much more of a train fan than a flyer, and two books + a half sandwich later we had arrived. We stayed in an Airbnb. If you’re never stayed in one before and are planning a last minute summer getaway (I implore you to do it! You’ll be glad you did), click here for a little $ off your first stay.
To see: we ticked off a few touristy bits: The Chateau d’If of Dumas fame, MuCEM, Notre Dame de la Garde. The latter requires a bit of an uphill trek by foot, but the basilica is so beautiful and has ships hanging from the ceiling…I’ve never seen anything like it.
In classic ‘me’ fashion, I booked us a tour of Le Corbusier’s Unité d’Habitation in French, so Audrey had to do a lot of nodding and smiling for two hours whilst I tried to make use of very rusty and rudimentary French and lip reading. It was still an amazing tour– just make sure that if you’re not a French speaker, you book the tour on Saturday (as all other days are French only).
We opted to explore the famous Calanques national park by Airbnb experience, which meant a short hike and dip in a cave. Had a bit of an accident (200% my fault) but we met a dog and swam at the beach after, and had a lovely time.
Shops: we didn’t do much clothes shopping, but loved Maison Empereur for home-y things and souvenirs (like soap! Which is famous in Marseille). Heard the Jogging Jogging concept store is nice too, but we went on a Monday when it was closed, because, well, us.
And I saved the best for last. Here’s where we ate:
Coffee / breakfast: Ginger, Maison Geney
Very necessary ice Cream: La Glacier Du Roi, or Ego (DIY and pay by weight + a crazy number of flavours)
Bakeries: Le Fournis des Roi, Le Pain de l’Opera
Aperitif / snacks with the best view: Le Café de L’abbaye
French tapas + drinks ’til late: La Releve
Food souvenirs and amazing, simple lunches: Epicerie d’ideal (we bought a hodgepodge of produce / deli bits and ate it on our terrace at sunset with Rosé from Aix, and it was one of the best meals of our trip).
A multi-course lunch in the sun: Le Mercerie
The best seafood: Toinou (pick what you want and how they cook it, and sit outside on the weekends with a glass of wine– don’t skimp on the baguette and bordier butter combo) and La Boîte à Sardine.
Dinner with a nice mishmash of flavours: Lacaille
I’ve also heard great things about La Cantinetta (Italian), Nour D’egypte Cantine (Egyptian), and L’inattendu (Cosy French)
Hope you guys check these spots out if you visit Marseille. Let me know if you do / if you have recommendations for when I return for more seafood!