Marseille on a budget: top 8 bars and restaurants
Olivia spent her year abroad in Biarritz and knows how daunting it can be when you first arrive in a brand new city in France. Here are some places she recommends in Marseille to help you make friends and get you excited about trying all the amazing places to eat, drink and do on the cheap there.
Heading to Marseille for your year or semester abroad? This historic port city is a melting pot of culture. It’s North African, Senegalese, French, Italian, Corsican, but above all, the people are Marseillaise, welcoming and proud of the city’s distinct flavours. Better yet, living on a student budget won’t limit your access to some of Marseille’s most alluring spots for culture, food and drink.
Wine in Marseille can go for as little as £2.50 a glass and let’s not forget about the essential aperitif made in Marseille - Pastis. Whilst the local dish Bouillabaisse has lost its working-class roots, transforming into a high-end culinary delicacy as it’s now filled with fresh fish (restaurant prices can rise to around €50 a head), here are a few of the most interesting and atmospheric places to have a tipple and some memorable nosh without breaking the bank.
1. Atelier Juxtapoz, 52 Rue Levat
Founded in 2009, this edgy arts and cultural centre with a bohemian feel is housed in an 19th century convent. It has a large garden space for picnicking, an outside bar and food stall serving seasonal and organic plates from local producers for under €10 a head. For a party atmosphere, there’s a DJ set in the convent every Friday (check Facebook for more details), and the venue regularly houses free exhibitions and film screenings.
2. La Friche, 41 Rue Jobin
A popular spot with Marseille’s hipster crowd, La Friche is housed in an old tobacco factory near Saint Charles station. The rooftop bar is a huge space with panoramic views of the city – the perfect place to meet people and watch the sunset, and each level of the building has something offer. From a cinema, a free media lab, exhibitions to a restaurant, La Friche is another initiative in Marseille that aims to make culture accessible.
3. La Baleine, 59 Cours Julien
In the middle of Cours Julien’s booming square of bars and restaurants, this ciné-bistro is a great spot for a relaxed glass or two of wine and is a brilliant work space in the day. Their mains are on the higher end of the scale as they’re organic, but you can find plates of cheese or charcuterie to share for under 10 euros. Their cinema programme ranges from international arthouse film, retrospectives of the classics to popular contemporary film. With its stylish interior décor and chilled out atmosphere, it’s the perfect place to lose track of time, settle into a film, watch the world go or practise your French conversation.
4. Longchamp Palace, 22 Boulevard Longchamp
On a quiet boulevard leading to the sweeping Palais Longchamp (which is well worth a visit) sits a small but booming bar-restaurant which is a guaranteed spot to meet fellow Erasmus students and convivial French locals. For a party atmosphere on a Friday night, Longchamp Palace is the place to be. The bar also regularly hosts vernissages for exhibitions by local artists. Visit the Facebook Page @Longchamp.palace to find out more about their upcoming events.
5. Il Capriolo, 83 Boulevard Longchamp
Further up the boulevard this small Italian restaurant offers generously sized, indulgent plates of Italian cicchetti where you can sit on tables spilling out onto the street. One plate each would suffice and they don’t mind you sharing if you just want to stop for a small bite. The mussels and clams in a garlic and white wine sauce are not to miss and the sashimi tuna on a bed of caponata (Sicilian style ratatouille) is delicious. Served with artisanal bread, expect to pay under €15 a head. It’s cash only here so make sure to take out some euros before!
6. Le Clan des Cigales, 8 Rue du Petit Puits
For a breather from the hustle and bustle of the city centre, this restaurant sits in Marseille’s Old Town – le Panier. Walk up the narrow, winding streets to find a restaurant that prides itself in its organic, local produce. Le Clan des Cigales has an eccentric, friendly owner who will be pleased to chat to you in French and one chef in the smallest, most artisanal kitchen you’ll ever see. Here they serve the best goats cheese you’ll ever try, gorgeous home-made Comte filled ravioli, plates of cured meat and sulphite free, organic wine.
7. Café de L’Abbaye, 3 Rue d&39;Endoume
You might recognise this place from celeb chef Anthony Bourdain’s documentary on Marseille. It’s one of the few places he visits which is affordable. With a view of the sea (and the ring road) which sums up Marseille’s edgy scene, Café de L’abbaye, is tucked away from the touristy bars and restaurants in Vieux Port, and is worth the short climb to soak up the last of the day’s golden rays.
8. La Toinou, 3 Cours Saint Louis
For a quick seafood fix, this canteen-style restaurant is a no frills, fresh fish experience. There is a huge range of oysters from local regions for as little as €1 per oyster, and very reasonably priced seafood platters. If you want to take away and host a dinner party, the restaurant have their own market stall outside.