Budget, pleasure, madness in Marseille-Provence: where to stay, eat and explore | Hello Provence and French Riviera

Marseille is France‘s second city and the capital of sunny Provence, famous for its diversity, lively street life and mix of metropolitan culture and Mediterranean beaches. As late summer fades into early fall, temperatures are warm and balmy, making it the perfect time to enjoy pure chic shopping and a culinary scene celebrated by the late great. Anthony Bourdain.

Whether you’re looking to vacation on a budget or to blow your budget, here’s where to stay, eat and explore in Marseille and Provence this fall/winter…

Renaissance Hotel in Aix en Provence. Photography: @pramodini_roul

Lodging

Budget: Hotel Le Cassitel, Cassis
Cassis is famous for the beauty of its cliffs, coves and crystal clear waters. If you plan to party, the hotel Le Cassitel is perfectly located between the port and the beach, close to shops, restaurants and nightclubs.

Treat: Hotel La Residence du Vieux Port, Marseille
Nestled in the Old Port of Marseille, opposite Notre-Dame de La Garde, the beautiful “arti-chic” decor of this hotel is a tribute to the 1950s. One night in your retro room and you will feel like a movie star. the French New Wave.

Splurge: Hotel Renaissance, Aix-en-Provence
Located in the heart of Aix-en-Provence, this five-star haven of peace is positioned on the edge of the cultural forum of Aix. Light and airy, the Renaissance Hotel feels more like an art gallery than a hotel, and to top it off, it also has an Instagrammable infinity pool.

Food: On the left: Pain à l'Ail, Provençal street food;  Right: Jonathan Chiri, chef and guide, leads a bike ride
Visit Pain à l’Ail for Provencal street food, or enjoy a meal on the road with chef Jonathan Chiri

Food

Budget: Garlic bread, Provençal street food, Marseille
Founded in 2020 with the mission of promoting Provençal cuisine, Pain à l’Ail is an unmissable street food destination. Mouth-watering specialties include bouillabaisse bread, sea urchin omelet, Marseille hot dog and Provençal lobster roll.

Treat yourself: gourmet restaurant La Mère Germaine, Châteauneuf-du-Pape
This culinary institution is now 100 years old and proud to have a Michelin star, thanks to chef Christophe Hardiquest’s contemporary and innovative interpretations of Provençal cuisine. Wonderful !

Splurge: Chef and guide services Jonathan Chiri, Avignon
After four years at the starred restaurant La Mirande in Avignon, Jonathan Chiri became a chef-trainer at his cooking school, Le Marmiton. Now he offers bespoke dining experiences that combine his love of food with the local countryside, including a food and wine tour – by bike.

Grotte Cosquer, Marseille: The original Grotte Cosquer is decorated with 500 works of prehistoric rock art.  Discovered by a local diver in 1985, it is 37 meters below sea level. This brand new replica, which has just opened on the esplanade of Marseille, offers an immersive impression of the impressive ancient cave, involving small autonomous exploration vehicles on a journey below sea level.
Grotte Cosquer in Marseille is a replica of an underwater cave complete with prehistoric rock art. Photographer: Patrick Adventurer

Culture

Budget: Chateau d’If, Marseille
Built as a fortress to defend Marseille against invasion, the Chateau d’If later became an escape-proof island prison. In the 19th century, its legend was immortalized by the French novelist Alexandre Dumas – who used it as a setting for The Count of Monte Cristo – and Gaston Crémieux, the revolutionary leader of the Commune of Marseilles, who was shot here in 1871 .

Treat: Cosquer Cave, Marseille
The original Cosquer Cave is adorned with 500 works of prehistoric rock art. Discovered by a local diver in 1985, it is 37 meters below sea level. This brand new replica, which has just opened on the esplanade of Marseille, offers an immersive impression of the impressive ancient cave, involving small autonomous exploration vehicles on a journey below sea level.

Splurge: Tailor-made trips by Curious Provence
For a truly luxurious break from the pressures of normal life, you can outsource your itinerary to Curious Provence. Led by passionate Provence enthusiast Ashley Tinker, the Canadian-born photographer will not only plan outings to your specifications, giving you a real insider’s feel for the region, but she can also photograph your excursions beautifully.

Food counter at the Grandes Halles
Les Grandes Halles in Marseille serve dishes from all over the world

Go out

Budget: Mx, Marseille
Bar concepts are usually based on appearance, but Mx has the distinction of being rooted in taste… the taste of anise, which is the key ingredient in pastis and absinthe, known locally as the “taste of the south”. Located in the heart of the Joliette district of Marseille, in Docks Village, the boutique, the bar, the restaurant and the Mx’s events are all dedicated to the star spice.

Treat: Les Grandes Halles, Marseille
Who could say “no” to 2,000 square meters of the best dishes from around the world, plus 400 places where you can eat them while sunbathing? Inaugurated in July in the newly converted naval arsenals, Les Grandes Halles also hosts a farmers’ market, greengrocer and brasserie.

Splurge: Les Ambassadeurs Nightclub, Avignon
There’s nothing like a disco to let off steam on vacation. Dance queens of all genres should head straight to Rue Bancasse for Avignon’s best nightclub, known to locals as ‘Les Ambas’ and beloved for its glitz, disco balls and alcoves.

Basket of Shuttles from Marseille
Stock up on the local speciality, the Navettes de Marseille. Photography: Edwige Lamy

Budget: Les Navettes des Accoules, Marseille specialty, Marseille
Invented by a Marseille baker in 1781, Navettes de Marseille are sweet, hard, cream-colored biscuits shaped to resemble the miraculous “nave” of the ship that carried Saint Lazarus and Mary Magdalene from the Holy Land to the shores of the Provence 2,000 years ago. Today, they remain the specialty of artisan baker José Orsoni, taste like orange blossom and stay fresh for a year, making them the perfect gift to take home through customs.

Care: Alyscamps, natural cosmetics, Arles
Julie Faivre-Duboz, founder of Alyscamps, doctor of pharmacy, created her own brand of natural cosmetics to meet the specific needs of her family’s skin. Its creams, with a rich and melting texture, are 97-99% of natural origin and come from plants native to Provence, including olive, fig, sunflower, pistachio and apricot. Very pretty !

Splurge: Jogging, shop and restaurant, Marseille
Fashion is so French we stole the word ‘chic’ from them, so no trip to Marseille would be complete without some serious retail therapy – and Jogging is the hottest boutique in town. Founded in 2014 by fashion photographers Olivier Amsellem and Charlotte Brunet, Jogging has accompanied brands such as Jacquemus, Marine Serre and Charlotte Chesnais since the beginning of their career. The premises also feature vintage designer furniture, a restaurant and an eco-friendly grocery store. Very chic, indeed!

Terrace of the Tamaris beach house
Tamarisk the beach house makes the perfect base for exploring the coast

Nature

Budget: Marseille Calanques Cruises
The Mediterranean around Marseille is famous for the beauty of its cliffs and creeks (creeks) – and the only way to appreciate them is by boat, as it is impossible to access them by land. On tour every 12 creeks between Marseille and Cassis will take three and a quarter hours. Alternatively, a shorter tour will take you through the Big Six between Callelongue and Sugiton in just two.

Treat: Les Mines de Bruoux, Luberon
Ocher is all the rage right now thanks to Kanye’s 2022 Yeezy slides, but it’s been fashionable in Provence since the Paleolithic era. At the mines of Broux in Gargas you will find towering cliffs in this trendiest color and a gigantic maze of underground galleries and vaulted passages where the work of generations of miners has exposed the natural beauty of the land below.

Splurge: Rent the Carro beach house, for a surf, yoga and bike stay, Côte Bleue
The Carro beach house complex consists of five independent houses for rent, including the villa Tamarisk, which has 10 bedrooms, a summer kitchen and a private swimming pool. Located in a small village at the very end of the Côte Bleue, it is the ideal place for hikers and cyclists – thanks to a multitude of paths nearby – and lovers of aquatic life, thanks to its windsurfing and its world famous water sports.

Discover a new side to the South of France with an off-season trip to Marseille. With EasyJet flights departing from various UK airports, soaking up the autumn sunshine has never been easier. Learn more at easyjet.com

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