Marseille is a very cultural city and has strong links to some of the worlds’ most renowned classics. Many authors were based in the French Riviera to write, and employed the region as a backdrop to their stories. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it has an interesting selection of bookshops, carrying everything from the new and the specialist to the second hand. Here’s our list of the best in and around town to explore.
This bookshop is on one of the main streets in the centre of Marseille, La Canebière. It has everything; the classics, children’s books, an English section and a huge amount of reference books. The website is very comprehensive and they hold a lot of writing events as well.
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday, 10am to 7pm. Closed Sundays.
This little independent bookstore specialises in graphic design, architecture and urbanism. It also has literature from the 11th and 12th centuries and a children’s section. It takes its name from Lewis Carroll’s classic Alice in Wonderland, because in French a “le lièvre de mars” is a March hare, one of the main characters. A great place to find something to read that’s a little bit different and arty.
Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 7pm. Monday, 2pm to 7pm. Closed Sundays.
La Friche is an old tobacco factory that sprawls the land to one side of the main St Charles station; it’s one of Marseille‘s amazingly edgy urban spaces. It holds a lot of creative and cultural events, as well as being a main hang-out spot in the summer months (there’s a DJ on the roof most weekends). The artsy bookstore on the ground floor at the entrance is fantastic, with lots of art books also in English, and offers a great chance to pick up a present and have a delicious cup of coffee.
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 10am to 7pm. Monday, 10am to 6pm.
This is an English and Italian bookstore that has been running for over 30 years. Pierre and Anne-Sophie Maurel offer a friendly welcome and like to think of themselves as a melting pot and meeting place for every nationality – for example, they have the French classic Le Petit Prince, (The Little Prince) in lots of languages. It is starting to offer books in other languages too, such as Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Chinese, and more.
Opening hours: Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, 9:30am t0 6:30pm. Wednesday, 9:30am to 1pm. Friday and Saturday, 9:30am to 12:30pm. Closed Sundays.
This is a little independent bookshop in an old bakery (boulangerie). It has a great section for kids, where they can sit and read the (French) books. It has an anti-elitist ethos and tries to welcome anyone who is passionate about books. It holds events too.
Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 7pm. Closed Sundays and Mondays.
Marseille has always had strong links to the sea; it’s been a thriving fishing harbour for centuries and is now one of Europe’s major ports. This independent bookshop covers everything relating to the sea; nautical maps, books and other seafaring items. As you would expect, you can find them in the Old Port area.
Opening hours: Tuesday to Friday, 9am to 12:30pm, 2pm to 6:30pm. Saturday, 10am to 12:30pm, 2.30pm to 6pm. Closed Sundays and Mondays.