Fernand et Lily: Local Shopping in the heart of Marseille

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the value of local shopping has become increasingly evident, especially in France. The country that coined the term hypermarket (big box store) has returned to its roots. In January 2021, 75% of consumers put “regional products” at the top of their list of purchasing priorities, according to a report from France 3 News. Another study from AlixPartners confirmed that “usability is the basis of retailers”. Serving these two artefacts resurrected from another era, a new grocery store in the heart of Marseille.

Fernand et Lily combines regional products and old-fashioned conviviality. Owner Julien Baudoin has passionately and personally selected each of the boutique’s products – including Marseille microbreweries, Provencal nougat, and Hautes-Alpes raw cow’s milk cheese. And like a general store of old, shopping here comes with a side of the conversation. When we don’t know which bottle of Moulin Castelas olive oil to buy, Julien talks about “bright and acid” green. olive oil and its “more gourmet” ripe black olive counterpart, even pouring us a sample on a piece of baguette to really taste the difference.

Faithful to the nostalgic air of the shop, Fernand and Lily bear the name of Julien’s grandparents. You can spot the smiling young couple in the black and white photo hanging next to the cash register. “They were the ideal grandparents,” shares Julien, always proud of me. Since Fernand comes from a family of traders, his grandson swears: “if I ever open a store, I will pay him homage”.

Julien’s first job was in the hospitality industry, where he honed his hospitality skills. He turned to the bank when family life demanded more regular hours. After two decades behind a desk, the appeal of live well (live life to the fullest) and his long-standing desire to follow in the footsteps of his family’s traders pushed him to take the plunge. In addition, it even had a location when the café-theater renting a storefront in the Old Port that it owned chose not to renew its lease.

Their piano has remained – available for patrons to play while they browse the beer bottles stored above. And to celebrate the history of the neighborhood as one of the oldest in Marseille, Julien restored heritage details to the building where he could, removing brown paint from the wooden rafters on the ceiling and uncovering a wall of medieval stone hidden by plasterboard.

The fun part, he says, was finding the products to supply the store. Some came by word of mouth, such as the Domaine de Bandol Domaine de l’Olivette, for which his father-in-law cultivates grapes. Others have been discovered in regional gastronomic fairs, such as Maison Matthieu. Immediately seduced by Stéphane’s smoked tuna, octopus and salmon, Julien visited his Marseille smokehouse to see his work up close. “I am quite relational with the craftsmen with whom I work, reveals Julien.

At Fernand et Lily, the products come from three regions: Provence and Marseille, the birthplace of Fernand where Julien has lived for over 20 years; Nice, where Julien was born and where Fernand and Lily lived; and Champsaur, the Hautes-Alpes region where Julien grew up.

As a fellow Marseillais, Julien shares our thirst for local beverages. Zoumaï’s microbreweries, pastis from the Distillerie de la Plaine and coffee in small quantities from Café Corto are lined up on the shelves. From the northernmost district of the city, there are pots of Bee from L’Estaque honey (honey), whose bees buzz between rosemary (rosemary) and chaitaigne (chestnut trees). Beekeeper Benoit Chanavas actually introduced Julien to BAAMs, local artisanal energy bars flavored with his honey – they’re the closest thing we’ve seen to a Cliff Bar in France. One of Julien’s latest finds, Timon & Sourrieu, is a new range of Mediterranean dips – think sardines, mint and lemon and bouillabaisse and dill – perfect for a Marseille aperitif.

The shop’s abundant aperitif offer comes from all over Provence. Fortunately, his charcuterie box contains one of the last locally produced products. bottarga, dried red mullet roe. The Port-du-Bouc Saveur des Calanques is also artisanal melet, which is made with crushed salted anchovies, fennel and herbs. A cousin of pissaladière (a mixture of Nice onions, anchovies and olives), this method of preservation from ancient Rome is also reminiscent of that of Naples. colatura. Curious about cooking the melet, Julien advises us to add it to vinaigrettes or to coat it in puff pastry.

It also helps us to choose between anchoids. Holding a jar of Délices de Margaux, he explains that “the locals prefer this one with more fish”, while the Anglo-Saxons prefer the creamier version of the Provençal Aperitif. In addition to this olive oil dip with anchovies, the two companies offer other classics from Provence such as aubergine (aubergine), all (garlic) and Chickpea (chickpeas) spreads.

Fernand et Lily combines regional products and old-fashioned conviviality. … And like a general store of old, shopping here comes with a side of the conversation.

For gourmets, Julien tells us that the biscuits de la Biscuiterie de Rognes are so fresh that they won’t break their teeth like others who sit for months. It highlights the For crunchy almonds, Provencal almond biscotti, or the bakery’s signature olive oil cookies lemon (lemon) or hazelnut (Hazelnut). Speaking of fresh, Julien sings the praises of Confiserie Fouque, a family and heritage confectionery which “only makes its nougat between September and December”. He cuts us samples of black nougat (honey and toasted almonds) and White Nougat (egg white, honey and toasted almonds). Both are so deliciously tender that we will certainly go for the bars for the “thirteen desserts”, a Provencal Christmas tradition.

Then Julien takes a look back in time when he talks about food products from Champsaur. “This farm delivered us bottles of milk when I was little,” he smiles, pointing to the raw cow’s milk cheese from Ferme de la Tuillerie in the charcuterie box. The rustic sausages next door and the terrine pots nearby are made by Ferme Drouhot, “whose pigs are patients of my veterinarian father.” Sometimes, when Julien goes to look for products from his childhood home, he brings back a alpine pie, the famous lattice fruit jam tart of the region. The owner’s hometown of Nice is represented by different types of socca. Choose from picnic-friendly socca chips or nifty DIY bottles, in which you simply add water to make the olive oil and chickpea flour pancakes at home.

Open since June 2021, Fernand et Lily counts among its clients a mix of locals, locals and travelers passing through the Old Port. “Many of our customers have come across us by chance,” shares Julien. For our part, we may not have ventured there, wronged by certain addresses in the Old Port with mediocre quality products intended for tourists. But when our favorite bar next door, La Caravelle, recommended the grocery store to us, we couldn’t resist.

Two retirees who met while shopping here have become good friends. “I am delighted that it has also become a meeting place, rejoices Julien. He will be happy to slice a baguette and a bread Salvator sausage with seeds or open a jar of tapenade if a customer wishes to enjoy a snack on the spot. As long as you order food, you can also order beer or wine.

Previously, customers could linger on the front parking lot patio, an initiative the city has put in place to increase alfresco dining during the pandemic. Now that the temporary terraces are prohibited, Julien is awaiting the approval of his permanent patio permit. In the meantime, you are welcome to snack at the solitary table inside or to snack around the deli crate. Because it’s all about sharing here.

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