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Marseille travel guide

Le Miramar

Le Miramar

Now linked to London by a direct Eurostar service, Marseille, France's second city, is riding a fresh wave of energy and creativity, writes Rosa Jackson.

STAY
Intercontinental Marseille Hôtel Dieu
Opened in 2013, this 18th-century hospital in the Panier district has had the full luxe-hotel treatment while retaining historical features. It has stunning views of the port and Notre-Dame de la Garde cathedral, and refined food from starred chef Lionel Levy. His daring bouillabaisse milkshake has become a classic on the brasserie menu here. 1 Place Daviel

Hôtel 96
Twenty minutes from the city centre, this secluded family-run hotel is the perfect base for exploring nearby beaches and hiking trails along the cliffs of the calanques. It combines the charm of its 19th-century architecture with an airy, modern feel and seasonal cuisine. 96 Avenue de la Soude, 13009

DO
Famously cosmopolitan, Marseille has a thriving North African community that gathers daily (except Sundays) at the Noailles market to stock up on local and international foods. On Wednesday mornings a popular organic farmers' market takes place along Cours Julien, which is also well known for street art. Nearby, the Herboristerie du Père Blaize (6 rue Méolan) is a 200-year-old herbalist's shop stocking remedies for almost any malady. Take a 20-minute boat ride from Vieux Port to the dramatic Château d'If, where Edmond Dantès was imprisoned in The Count of Monte Cristo. Enshrouded in a façade inspired by North African latticework, the stunning MuCEM (European and Mediterranean Civilisations Museum) has elevated France's oldest city to a new level of cool (7 Promenade Robert Laffont).

SHOP
The once-dodgy Panier district west of the port is now home to bohemian boutiques, art galleries and specialty food shops. Les Navettes des Accoules (68 rue Caisserie) is the place to try the local boat-shaped biscuits perfumed with orange-blossom water, while Le Glacier du Roi (4 Place de Lenche) produces extraordinary ice-cream using seasonal fruits, and Comptoir O' Huiles (38 rue Sainte-Françoise) stocks the best Provençal olive oils and has a long shared table where you can try dishes based on local products. Où est Marius? (48 rue du Lacydon) sells regional foods, handmade pottery and light cotton shirts, and Le Panier des Créateurs (13 rue du Petit Puits) stocks clothing, jewellery and accessories by local designers and artists.

EAT
La Boîte à Sardine
This eatery serves a short menu of simple, tasty fare based on the local catch, perhaps sardine kefta, a salad with shredded skate wing or sautéed baby squid. 2 Boulevard de la Libération

Chez Jeannot
Thanks to the many Neapolitans who've settled here, Marseille is famous for its pizza. Among the most atmospheric places to try the local version is this old-fashioned restaurant in the port of Vallon des Auffes. Though it's not listed on the menu, the most popular item is the half-anchovy, half-cheese pizza. 129 rue du Vallon des Auffes

AM par Alexandre Mazzia
Mazzia has become the face of culinary innovation in Marseille with his one-star restaurant. You won't find bouillabaisse on the menu, but you will taste the finest produce from local farmers and fishermen prepared with Asian and African influences - Mazzia spent his childhood in the Congo. Diners choose the number of courses they want, and a series of dishes appears like edible works of art. 9 rue François Rocca


DON'T MISS
Taste real bouillabaisse at Chez Michel or Le Miramar, and learn to make it in classes run by Miramar chef Christian Buffa or with Gilles Conchy, who invites participants into his apartment.

SOAP ROMANCE
Just like bouillabaisse, the Marseilles' famed soap is often subject to counterfeits. True savon de Marseille is found at the century-old La Licorne (34 Cours Julien) and the recently opened La Grande Savonnerie (36 Grande Rue).

GETTING THERE
A number of airlines, including Qantas, British Airways and Singapore Airlines, fly two stops from Australia to Marseilles. The TGV train from Paris takes about 3h; the new Eurostar service from London takes 6h 30m. See http://www.visitprovence.com.

DON'T MISS
Taste real bouillabaisse at Chez Michel or Le Miramar, and learn to make it in classes run by Miramar chef Christian Buffa or with Gilles Conchy, who invites participants into his apartment.

SOAP ROMANCE
Just like bouillabaisse, the Marseilles' famed soap is often subject to counterfeits. True savon de Marseille is found at the century-old La Licorne (34 Cours Julien) and the recently opened La Grande Savonnerie (36 Grande Rue).

GETTING THERE
A number of airlines, including Qantas, British Airways and Singapore Airlines, fly two stops from Australia to Marseilles. The TGV train from Paris takes about 3h; the new Eurostar service from London takes 6h 30m. See http://www.visitprovence.com.

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