If Marseille is ranked among the most welcoming cities on the Mediterranean, it's undoubtedly due to its excellent restaurants and abundance of local specialities. You'll find bouillabaisse (a Provençal fish stew) on pretty much every menu in the city. Whether a closely guarded family secret, a traditional recipe or even a new interpretation by a Michelin-starred chef, this stew made with freshly caught fish, accompanied by garlic bread and topped with a rouille sauce, is a real treat.

    And let's not forget aïoli, la soupe au pistou (vegetable soup), tapenade, fougasse breads, navette biscuits and ratatouille. Let's take a look at some of the outstanding restaurants where locals go to tuck into some of these distinctive dishes.

    1

    Au Bord de l’Eau

    Seafood delicacies in a relaxed family setting

    • Families
    • Food

    The restaurant Au Bord de l'Eau is in a prime location looking out onto the Port de la Madrague de Montredon. It has a picturesque setting that's brought to life by fishing boats bobbing about in the sea. In the friendly dining room or on the veranda, you can enjoy grilled à la plancha fish specialities. These specialities include whiting served in lemon sauce, tartares de coquilles Sain-Jacques (finely chopped raw scallops) and fresh salmon, or a succulent marmite du pêcheur (seafood casserole).

    Highchairs are available for families, and there's a little sand beach nearby that's ideal for little ones.

    Location: Port de la Madrague de Montredon, 15 Rue des Arapedes, 13008 Marseille, France

    Open: Friday—Sunday from 12 pm to 2.30 pm and from 7.30 pm to 10.30 pm, Tuesday from 12 pm to 2.30 pm (closed on Wednesdays)

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    2

    Chez Fonfon

    Marseille's bouillabaisse in a historic building

    • Couples
    • Food
    • Luxury

    Chez Fonfon is a true Marseille establishment and has been serving lovers of the local shellfish and fish stew since 1952. Each generation has made it a point of honour to maintain the family's culinary heritage. This fine restaurant is located on the port, in the heart of Vallon des Auffes and a 15-minute walk along the seafront from the car park in Pharo.

    Although the restaurant is famous for its bouillabaisse (shellfish and fish stew), it's still worth taking a closer look at the menu. Besides Marseille's culinary star, you'll discover delicate poissons à l'argile (fish baked in clay pots), grilled specialities and a basket of fish grilled à la plancha that'll tickle your tastebuds. This establishment is very popular, so think of booking in advance.

    Location: 140 Rue du Vallon des Auffes, 13007 Marseille, France

    Open: Daily from 12 pm to 2 pm and 7 pm to 10 pm

    Phone: +33 (0)4 91 52 14 38

    Map
    3

    L'Épuisette

    Beauty, calm and refinement in a Marseille cuisine hotspot

    • Couples
    • Food
    • Luxury

    L'Épuisette welcomes you into its Vallon des Auffes postcard-like setting, with fishermen's huts spread along the edge of a superbly calm seaside. You can reach the luxury restaurant easily by car, parking in the Pharo car park and then taking an enjoyable 15-minute stroll along the seaside. Perched on a rock, this restaurant offers stunning clear views across the water of Marseille bay.

    Once you are seated comfortably in the incredibly intimate setting, the splendours of the ocean, enhanced by the chef's perfect mastery of cooking methods, arrive one after the other at your table. The menu changes from season to season and the decor is also refreshed regularly: there's always something new for foodies to discover.

    Location: 158 Rue du Vallon des Auffes, 13007 Marseille, France

    Open: Tuesday–Saturday from 12 pm to 1.30 pm and 7.30 pm to 9.30 pm (closed on Sundays and Mondays)

    Phone: +33 (0)4 91 52 17 82

    Map
    4

    Le Petit Nice Passédat

    Three-star restaurant in this Mediterranean kitchen garden

    • Couples
    • Food
    • Luxury

    Le Petit Nice Passédat bathes in the sweet calmness of the seashore and yet it's just a short walk from the city centre. This restaurant is also the product of a beautiful family history. The chef, Gérald Passédat, has collected his 3 stars in the same villa purchased by his grandfather in 1917. He earned his stars by exalting anemones, Atlantic bonito and sea urchins in an instinctive cuisine that spotlights pure ingredients, taste and flavour. His signature dishes are Bouille Abaisse (an individual take on the local fish stew) and the famous Loup Lucie Passédat (steamed sea bass with strips of courgette and cucumber on a tomato garnish).

    It's definitely pricey to dine in this luxury establishment, but the chef invites you to immerse yourself in flavours and aromas, surrounded by an expansive view of the Mediterranean, that is quite outstanding and well worth it. Formal dress is required.

    Location: 17 Rue des Braves Anse de Maldormé, Corniche Président John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 13007 Marseille, France

    Open: Tuesday–Saturday from 12.30 pm to 1.30 pm and 7.30 pm to 9.45 pm (closed on Mondays and Sundays)

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    5

    La Boîte à Sardine

    Friendliness permeates this Marseille restaurant and fish shop

    • Families
    • Food

    La Boîte à Sardine, located at the intersection of Boulevard de la Libération and Cours Franklin Roosevelt, is the must-visit restaurant and fish shop in this southern French city. The restaurant's decor is very colourful: you sit between boxes of sardines and filets of fish to enjoy extremely modest yet skillfully prepared plates.

    Homemade burrata with salted anchovies, beignets d'anémone de mer (anemone fritters) or the famous "fish and shipe" – fried hake tails served in a paper cone, with panisses (chickpea chips) and aioli sauce. It's wise to book in advance as this eatery is very popular with locals and tourists alike.

    Location: 2 Boulevard de la Libération, 13001 Marseille, France

    Open: Tuesday–Thursday from 12 pm to 3 pm, Friday–Saturday from 12 pm to 3 pm and 7.30 pm to 9.30 pm

    Phone: +33 (0)4 91 50 95 95

    Map
    6

    Restaurant l'Inattendu

    A cool place for a friendly, multisensory experience

    • Families
    • Food
    • Budget

    Restaurant l'Inattendu is a charming restaurant and a great spot for enjoying an informal dinner with family or friends. The restaurant spotlights the market-fresh cuisine and charms its guests with its mouthwatering chalkboard menu: carpaccio de poulpe (thinly sliced octopus) with fennel and celery, duo de thon (salad of tuna grilled on the plancha) and bœef mijoté (a beef stew) with 4 spices.

    Although the menu is modest, it's a sign of quality and freshness. It varies season to season and features a good selection of wines. You can enjoy these delicacies in a clean, modern dining room that showcases contemporary exhibitions by young artists: a stop-off that's sure to awaken all your senses.

    Location: Cours d’Estienne d’Orves, 35 Rue de la Paix Marcel Paul, 13001 Marseille, France

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 7.30 pm to 11.30 pm (closed on Sundays)

    Phone: +33 (0)6 36 05 85 41

    Map

    photo by Pierre-Arnaud KOPP (CC BY 2.0) modified

    7

    Aux Antipodes

    A relaxing trip around the world

    • Food
    • Budget
    • Unusual

    Located in the heart of Marseille, Aux Antipodes invites you to embark on a world tour of flavours. Try delicacies based on fresh produce that's been cooked up by 2 global travellers who wish to share their favourite memories of trips to Thailand, Japan and even Brazil.

    This southern French restaurant offers a stylish but minimalist backdrop where you can discover Brazilian cheese croquettes, poké rice bowls with teriyaki salmon or tataki beef, or octopus confit tempura (fried, cured octopus), and mango tiramisu. Indulge in a lemon or passion fruit caipirinha (a cocktail of cahaça, sugar and lime) for a little escape.

    Location: 26 Rue Sainte, 13001 Marseille, France

    Open: Wednesday–Friday from 11.45 am to 1.30 pm, Monday–Thursday from 7 pm to 9.30 pm, Friday–Saturday from 7 pm to 10 pm (closed on Sundays)

    Phone: +33 (0)6 52 74 97 44

    Map
    8

    Le Perroquet Bleu

    No-frills delicacies, cocktails and a party atmosphere

    • Families
    • Food
    • Budget

    Le Perroquet Bleu is a restaurant, brasserie and music café conveniently located in the la Joliette neighbourhood. Its owner is the brother of the famous filmmaker and actor Kad Merad. Try bountiful salads and tartines (open sandwiches) named after Marseille's neighbourhoods, and generous daily specials.

    Some Fridays, there are dance nights, karaoke and jazz concerts that liven up the music café. Le Perroquet Bleu is closed on Saturday evenings to host private parties.

    Location: 72 Boulevard des Dames, 13002 Marseille, France

    Open: Monday–Friday from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm, Wednesday–Friday from 6 pm to 11 pm (until 1 am on Friday)

    Phone: +33 (0)4 95 09 65 13

    Map

    photo by Marco Verch Professional (CC BY 2.0) modified

    9

    L’Eau Vive

    A mother's eatery with a great view

    • Families
    • Food
    • Budget
    • Unusual

    L'Eau Vive inconspicuously occupies the third floor of Notre-Dame de la Garde basilica. It's an unusual, no-frills eatery with very affordable menus. Workers wear the traditional dress of their home countries and serve classic French cuisine or dishes inspired by food from their native countries (specifically Vietnam, Cameroon and Madagascar) that you can enjoy while taking in a spectacular view over the southern French city.

    Families can enjoy the special prices applied for children's food. Although panoramic, people of limited mobility can still access the restaurant via an elevator. It's strongly recommended that you make a reservation in advance, especially if you hope to dine on the weekend.

    Location: Notre Dame de la Garde, Allée Notre Dame de la Garde, 13006 Marseille, France

    Open: Daily from 8 am to 5.30 pm (closed on Mondays)

    Phone: +33 (0)4 91 37 86 62

    Map
    10

    Restaurant Le Château

    Seasonal restaurant where you can enjoy fish with a coastal view

    • Couples
    • Food

    Restaurant Le Château has an idyllic setting the old summer home of the Comtesse Marie Sormiou. It's run by the Rambaldy family, who have been passionate about seafood for 3 generations. These food-lovers offer seasonal local cuisine, prepared with local produce from the Marseille and Provence area. You can enjoy succulent grilled peppers and marinated anchovies, fresh ravioli with goat's milk, Brousse cheese and various forms of fish soup and stew.

    It's amazing when you realise that the place has neither electricity nor running water. Remember to give your car number plate to the owners to access the car park.

    Location: Route du Feu de la Calanque de Sormiou, 13009 Marseille, France

    Open: April–September: daily from 12 pm to 2.30 pm and Monday–Saturday from 7.30 pm to 9 pm

    Phone: +33 (0)4 91 25 08 69

    Map

    photo by Georges Seguin (CC BY 3.0) modified

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