The Best Fine Dining Experiences in Marseille, France According to Local Food Writer Pierre Psaltis

LEpuisette is just one of Marseilles stunning waterside restaurants
L'Epuisette is just one of Marseille's stunning waterside restaurants | © Romain Martinez
Alexis Steinman

From new hotspots to iconic institutions, Marseille’s restaurant scene teems with top tables. Learn where to have the most memorable meals with seasoned food writer Pierre Psaltis, who shares his picks of the best fine dining experiences in Marseille.

Restaurant critic for La Provence for 20 years and now head of Le Grand Pastis, food writer Pierre Psaltis is the go-to guy on where to eat in Marseille. From the mythical bouillabaisse (fish stew) to revamped aioli, each chef brings his own personal touch to each plate, for fine dining experiences in Marseille that are truly unforgettable.

Pierre Psaltis is head of ‘Le Grand Pastis’

1. AM par Alexandre Mazzia

Restaurant, African, Mediterranean

Courtesy of AM par Alexandre Mazzia

Take a trip into the magical mind of chef Alexandre Mazzia. “A meal at AM doesn’t compare to anything else,” asserts Psaltis. The basketball-star-turned-chef plays with smoke, spice and unique flavour combinations like eel and chocolate – an “explosion of creativity” infused with flavors from his childhood in Africa and the Mediterranean. “He uses a hundred ingredients in the same menu,” says Psaltis, using the Latin term “ordo ab chaos” to describe Mazzia’s knack for finding “order in the chaos”. With no menu, here diners experience each bite with wonder and without expectation. Tucked on a side street in the 8th arrondissement, AM has seating at the kitchen counter, in the minimalist dining room or at the newly added kitchen table – where a lucky pair gets to dine amidst this spectacular dinner theatre. Reserve far in advance, as Mazzia just earned his second Michelin star and tables are in high demand.

2. Le Petit Nice

Restaurant, French

The terrace at Le Petit Nice, to curl up with a loved one | © Courtesy of Le Petit Nice / Richard Haughton
© Richard Haughton / Courtesy of Le Petit Nice
With a dining room that boasts the city’s best view of the Mediterranean, Le Petit Nice takes waterfront dining to a whole new level. “More than a restaurant, it is an experience of the sea,” shares Psaltis. Captained by chef Gérald Passedat, the visionary team transforms fish caught hours before by local fishermen into exhilarating plates. From blue-streaked girelles to the saffron red chapon, the menu is an A to Z of Mediterranean fish and seafood. Marseille’s only 3-Michelin-starred table is famous for its bouillabaisse – a multi-course celebration of the mythical dish. In spite of the expensive price tag, Le Petit Nice has a relaxed feel, lovingly created by the three generations of Passedats who have run the restaurant since 1917. This is laid-back luxe, Marseille style, with Le Petit Nice situated just above a beach of sunbathers and across from cliff-jumping teens.

3. Une Table Au Sud

Restaurant, French

Courtesy of Un Table Au Sud

Looking for a lovely table on the Vieux Port? Perched above the fish market with views of the Bonne Mère, Une Table Au Sud serves up a postcard view of Marseille. Yet, the restaurant is anything but classic, thanks to the contemporary cuisine of Ludovic Turac, the youngest chef to win a Michelin star in France in 2015. “He has the craziness of youth, but actually he’s quite wise,” explains Psaltis. Each dish bursts with creativity while being rooted in tradition. The signature aioli features squid-ink focaccia topped with cod brandade (salt cod and potatoes), ribbons of seasonal veggies, and garlicky mayo. Diners choose from three set menus that range in price and size. The Bonne Mer menu ends with gatnabour, an Armenian rice pudding that celebrates Turac’s heritage. His partner in life and love, Karine Turac highlights southern French winemakers and “breathes style into the wine list,” says Psaltis. If you want to savor Turac’s food in a more casual setting, order a gourmet panier (picnic basket) from the restaurant.

4. Ourea

Bistro, Restaurant, French

This intimate bistro is “contemporary Provence at its best,” says Psaltis. Young chef Mathieu Roche is on a first-name basis with farmers and local purveyors. A “hard worker who puts ingredients at the centre of everything”, according to Psaltis, the chef elevates each vegetable, fish, and meat to their most mouthwatering. Roche’s plating is a work of art that pairs well with the pops of colour in Ourea’s petite dining room. Camille Fromont, his sweetheart, sources biodynamic and natural wines that perfectly complement the locavore cuisine. In a relaxed setting, join lawyers from the nearby Palais de Justice for lunch à la carte or a set four-course menu at night. Travelling on your own? The tiny kitchen-side counter is perfect for solo diners.

5. L'Épuisette, Marseille

Restaurant, French, Seafood, Mediterranean

Epuisette @Romain Martinez
© Romain Martinez
Chart your course for Marseille’s finest meal with les pieds dans l’eau (your feet in the water) – the French phrase for waterfront dining. Thanks to its prime location on a long jetty, a meal at l’Épuisette feels like you’re dining at sea. The historic spot has been open for 80 years, with chef Guillaume Sourrieu at its helm for the past 20. When discussing the Michelin-starred chef’s seasonal cuisine, Psaltis describes how “he respects tradition while also creating something very personal and contemporary”. Sourrieu works with local fishermen based near the restaurant to source the freshest catch for his famous bouillabaisse and seafood-focused dishes. Don’t miss the lobster tagine – and save room for the exquisite desserts. The perfect place for celebrations, birthdays or holidays, try to book your table at L’Épuisette for lunch or a sunset dinner to make the most of the sublime view. Then take time to stroll into the picturesque Vallon des Auffes fishing village before or after your meal.

6. Saisons

Restaurant, French, Mediterranean

Born of a friendship forged while working together at l’Épuisette, Saisons is the delicious partnership of chef Julien Diaz and sommelier Guillaume Bonneaud. Set on a side street off the Place Castellane, the “super creative” Diaz cooks with “astonishing sensitivity,” says Psaltis. You can taste the Marseille-born chef’s love for the Mediterranean in his artfully plated dishes, which feature squid, urchin and sea fennel. Choose between the five-course “Initiation,” the seven-course “Imagination” (a selection of Saisons’ most popular dishes), or the affordable two- or three-course menu, a lunch-only steal for under €30 (£26.35). The understated dining room lets each plate stand out. Note that this Michelin-star restaurant is open for Monday lunch and closed on the weekends.

7. Alcyone

Restaurant, French

© YannAudic

“If you stay at the Intercontinental, you must dine at least one night at Alcyone,” urges Psaltis. Housed in an 18th-century hospital, this one-Michelin-starred table is led by Lionel Levy. The chef is a key figure on Marseille’s fine dining scene. When he landed in the city 20 years ago, his bouillabaisse milkshake – the “incarnation of the comeback of Marseille cuisine,” says Psaltis – brought the public and journalists back to the city’s tables. At Alcyone, Levy is passionate about each guest having a delightful experience. He celebrates local producers and artisans, transforming the highest quality ingredients into beautiful dishes. The service is impeccable, a fitting match to the elegant dining room’s soaring ceilings and views of the Bonne Mère beaming from across the port.

8. Chez Etienne

Pizzeria, Restaurant, French, Italian

Courtesy of Chez Etienne

This beloved pizzeria “deserves a Michelin star,” raves Psaltis, “because it’s a living museum.” Open since 1943 and located in the historic Le Panier neighbourhood, Chez Etienne has lasted decades and surpassed trends by serving Marseille’s most popular food, pizza, with familial gusto. In addition to pizza, you’ll find squid sautéed in garlic and parsley and cuts of beef deliciously charred in the wood-fired oven. Etienne’s son, Pascal, now runs the joint with as much amore as his late father. Perpetually packed with politicians, notable locals and other regulars, a trip to Chez Etienne is a truly local experience. Don’t forget to bring cash, and arrive early – the restaurant doesn’t take reservations.

Culture Trips launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes places and communities so special.

Our immersive trips, led by Local Insiders, are once-in-a-lifetime experiences and an invitation to travel the world with like-minded explorers. Our Travel Experts are on hand to help you make perfect memories. All our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.?>

All our travel guides are curated by the Culture Trip team working in tandem with local experts. From unique experiences to essential tips on how to make the most of your future travels, we’ve got you covered.

Culture Trip Spring Sale

Save up to $1,100 on our unique small-group trips! Limited spots.

Edit article