The 7 Best Restaurants in the Old Port of Marseille, France
Une Table au Sud is a Michelin-star eatery on Marseille’s Vieux Port | Courtesy of Une Table au Sud
Lined with sailboats and traditional wooden fishing boats, Marseille’s Old Port (Vieux Port) is the historic hub of the city. A prime place to stroll and dine, this area is flush with excellent restaurants.
In the heart of Marseille, the Vieux Port is perfect for a promenade, a launching point for a ferry ride or a bite at one of its many restaurants. From cosy wine bars to Michelin-star tables, there’s something to satisfy every craving in Marseille’s Old Port.
One of Marseille’s best bar à vins is tucked away a few blocks from the Vieux Port. Les Buvards – the city’s first natural wine bar – pours French bottles, with a number of Italian and other European gems rounding out the selection. At this intimate, unintimidating spot, owners Fred and Laetitia say they “know many of the winemakers personally”, meaning they’re well placed to help you choose. Dig into Fred’s comfort fare, including homemade pâtés, succulent boudin noir (blood sausage) terrine and the tastiest puréed potatoes. In one of the city’s tiniest kitchens, he also makes homestyle slow-cooked stews, like sausages simmered in grape must (juice with the skin, seeds and stems) given to him by beaujolais vigneron Marcel Lapierre. As is the case in many wine bars, Les Buvards is perfect for solo dining. You can also grab a bottle to go from this caviste (wine shop).
“Eat your words” has a whole new meaning at Les Arcenaulx. Part bookstore, part restaurant, this unique spot nourishes literature buffs and gourmets alike. Housed in the former arsenal galley of Louis XIV, Les Arcenaulx invites guests to dine beneath soaring wood-beamed ceilings and beside stone walls lined with books. The French menu features Provençal specialities such as artichokes barigoule (braised artichokes in a wine broth), sautéed garlic squid and soupe de poisson (fish soup). Adored for its fish dishes, the restaurant also offers Marseille’s famous bouillabaisse – though you must order a day in advance. Work up an appetite browsing the bookstore and boutique, which stocks local delicacies.
Chart your course for this local institution to taste the best of Marseille cuisine. At Chez Madie Les Galinettes, Delphine Roux cooks up a plethora of local dishes, including salade à l’ail (garlic salad), roasted lamb with parsley and garlic, and bourride – bouillabaisse’s cousin made with lemon and cream. The bubbly chef, who is the daughter of a tripe seller, is also famous for her pieds et paquets (sheep’s feet and stuffed sheep tripe). Among the few restaurants to serve such traditional dishes, Chez Madie Les Galinettes fittingly serves up postcard views of the fishing boats docked at the Old Port. Thanks to its central location, this is a great spot to visit before or after a trip to MuCEM and the Cathédrale La Major.
To find the best Michelin-star meal on the Vieux Port, just look up. From its first-floor perch, Une Table au Sud is a culinary haven hidden away from the busy cafés below. Its historic Old Port setting is juxtaposed with the contemporary cuisine of young chef Ludovic Turac, who crafts creative interpretations of classic dishes. His aïoli resembles a sushi roll, with cod brandade, veggies and garlicky mayo atop squid ink focaccia. For dessert, his geometric tarte au citron comprises cubes of lemon crème and spheres of meringue. Turac’s wife and business partner, Karine, runs the front of the house and curates the wine list, which focusses on small producers from southern France. Together, the couple ensures each dish and bottle showcase the best of the local terroir.
In a city teeming with fresh fish, this steakhouse has been a paradise for meat lovers since 1979. La Côte de Bœuf is renowned for its angus, tomahawks and other prized steaks cooked on a wood-fired grill. This Marseille classic is also acclaimed for its wine selection – it was once awarded “the most popular wine cellar in the world”. Choose from the dining room lined with stone walls or the outdoor terrace on the convivial Cours Honoré d’Estienne d’Orves. It’s open seven days a week for lunch and dinner and invites you to meet winemakers during its Monday night wine tastings and discover specialities from the Île de Beauté on monthly Corsican nights.
Beloved for its wood-fired pizzas and grilled meats and fish, La Galiote’s varied menu will please groups with diverse palates. Order like a Marseille resident with plates of panisses (chickpea fritters), seared l’Estaque sausages or grilled sardines. The moules-frites with homemade fries is a popular, and affordable, choice as well. This super-central restaurant sits on the south side of the Old Port – ideal for an al fresco lunch in the sun. Plus, La Galiote is one of the rare tables open day and night on Sundays and Mondays.
This Moroccan restaurant will whisk you across the Mediterranean. At Le Souk, waiters in traditional dress serve typical dishes to a soundtrack of North African tunes. Tuck into the popular lamb tagine, artichoke couscous and sweet-and-savoury combos characteristic of Moroccan cuisine – such as the tasty pigeon pastilla (a stuffed pastry topped with sugar and cinnamon). Finish off with a classic mint tea to soothe your full belly. Grab a seat at a mosaic table inside or on the Old Port terrace, where views of the Bonne Mère (Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde) sweeten every meal.