Get your caffeine fix with this guide to the best cafés and coffee shops in the Old Port of Marseille. From old-school institutions to third-wave coffee shops, this lively neighbourhood has a café for every palate.
Coffee first arrived in France in 1660 on a ship that sailed from Alexandria to the port of Marseille. The caffeinated brew caused an instant buzz among shipping merchants, beginning a rich history for le café in the city, including the establishment of long-standing roasters Café Luciani and Torréfaction Noailles. Recently, a boom in hipster coffee shops and small-batch roasters has given the city’s coffee scene a new lease on life. Cafés abound around the Old Port (Vieux Port), with the climate ideal for year-round outdoor seating.
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Formerly a cabaret, this historic bar dating from the ’30s is located on the first floor of the Hotel Bellevue and has become a must-visit in La Cité Phocéenne. Very music-oriented, the café hosts live concerts every Wednesday and Friday night in the purest jazz tradition. As well as a morning coffee, this is a great place to discover typical Provençale cuisine and enjoy cocktails into the evening – and, if you’re passing by at lunchtime on a sunny day, its intimate terrace offers stunning views of the Vieux Port (Old Port) and Notre-Dame de la Garde.
On a side street off the Old Port, this third-wave coffee shop lures coffee aficionados from across the globe. In the words of one of the affable owners, Tony, “Deep serves specialised coffee in a laid-back atmosphere”. Using beans roasted in-house, the savvy baristas pull perfect shots from the Linea PB La Marzocco and slow pours from V60s, paired with vegan treats, hip-hop beats and a warm welcome. Cool off on sweltering days with the Sinbad (espresso shaken with coconut water) and the Dwayne (an iced latte made with almond milk ice cubes, like Puglia’s famed caffè leccese.)
This historic café has been in business since 1932 – outliving the name of the street on which it stands (the former Rue de la Darse is written on the vintage sign in the back.) From Mexico to Myanmar, the thoughtfully chosen coffee beans come from every corner of the globe. Pair your café with a local delicacy: a navette (a cookie flavored with orange-flower water) from local baker Orsoni; a marron glacé (a candied chestnut); or a barre marseillaise, a chocolate praline bar that is unique to the city. Speaking of chocolate, the chocolat chaud is made with Maison Cluizel’s decadent 72% cocoa, and they sell an array of artisanal Bonnat Grand Cru chocolate bars. Cafés Debout also sells beans to go – perfect for gifts or for your apartment rental.
If you prefer to pair your coffee with a sweet or savoury treat, add Fiancée to your to-try list. Voted “ Marseille’s best brunch” by local bloggers, this coffee shop serves up pancakes, breakfast sandwiches and other breakfast goods every day. For those with a sweet tooth, the chocolate chip cookies are some of the best in Marseille. To remind you that you’re in France, there’s a tasty selection of quatres-quarts (also known as French pound cake). From flat whites to pour-overs, Fiancée uses beans from beloved Paris roaster Coutume Café. Grab a seat on the outdoor patio or in the airy, bright interior, whose minimalist white decor makes every plate pop.
Built in Marseille’s Belle Époque in 1840, this former lingerie store has been a popular café for the past century. The grand dame reigns at the corner of the port and the Haussmann façades of the Rue de la République. Once the meeting point of ship merchants and dock workers on the Vieux Port, now La Samaritaine lures customers with its coffee and breakfasts. Choose from French- or English-style breakfasts, then simple French fare throughout the day and evening. On winter afternoons and summer evenings, the large patio is bathed in sun, ideal for an al fresco apéro.
With its sunny yellow outdoor tables and bright blue-and-white-tiled floor, it’s hard not to pop into this cheery coffee shop. Young couple Manon and Étienne provide an impressive selection of savoury and sweet options; Le Fooding praises the “finger-licking good” focaccia, while those watching their waistlines will love the wholesome salads made with local produce. Desserts include their signature mini-cakes topped with berries, chocolate and other tempting treats. On hot days, enjoy iced coffee or house-made iced herbal teas. Maison Geney is perfect for when you need a pick-me-up en route to the nearby MUCEM or strolling the cobblestone streets of Le Panier. Note that its small space means it might get crowded during prime eating times.
La Boutique du Glacier
Take advantage of the newly pedestrianised Canebière, Marseille’s main drag, at this family-run café. In the shadow of the Palais de Bourse and in front of the whimsical carousel, the Boutique du Glacier has been in the Old Port since 1963. Beloved for their buttery croissants and pains au chocolat, they also serve salads and quiche at lunchtime. Desserts include a colourful array of pastries and the homemade glace (ice cream) that gives this glacier its name. If you’re in Marseille over the Christmas season, be sure to try one of the two Provençal holiday favourites: pompe à l’huile (a brioche flavoured with olive oil and orange-flower water) and both the frangipane and candied-fruit versions of the galette des rois.
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