The sunny city of Marseille is France's second biggest and home to about 860,000 people. Although it only comes second in size it does hold the title of France's oldest city as it was established by the Greeks back in the 7th century B.C. However, there has been evidence to suggest that people had inhabited the area even 30,000 years ago!
If you're a foody who is visiting Marseille then you are going to have a great time. One of the best parts of visiting a new city is trying the food, and the treats listed below are some that you won't want to miss. We recommend that you take a tour around town to try all of the best street food in Marseille, and if you aren't a meat eater there are lots of great vegetarian restaurants to check out as well. Find the nearest Marseille luggage storage facility to keep your bags while you are stuffing yourself with delicious dishes!
Marseille Food: Tapenade
If you eat at a lot of restaurants in Marseille chances are that you will see Tapenade regularly on the menu as an appetizer. In fact, it is quite popular around all of Southern France. This dish is said to have originated in 1880 and since it has been around for so many years it has really earned itself a spot in the history of Marseille. The dish got its name from the Occitan translation of "capers" which are a main ingredient in the recipe.
Try the delicious olive Tapenade made with green or black olives, capers, anchovies, spices and the highest quality olive oil. If you order this appetizer you will most likely get it as a spread to go on toasts, as a dip for vegetables, soaked on bread or stuffed in baked treats. It is a great addition to most vegan meals!
Marseille Food: Pastis
This next Marseille treat isn't a meal but is actually a drink! A Pastis has become a symbol of France and is a popular refreshment on hot summer days. This drink has a high alcohol percentage of about 40% to 45% but is always diluted with water when served. It is easy to drink and first appeared in Marseille in the 1930s!
In general, the Pastis is made of several famous Provençal herbs like rosemary, sage, verbena, lemon balm and licorice. If you take this mixture and combine it with 5 measures of water per each measure of Pastis,d you will see the drink change in color and texture. The name of the drink is the translation of "mixture" in Occitan and it is so popular that almost every bar and café has it on its menu.
Marseille Food: Chichi Frégi
Struggling to find what to eat in Marseille? Time for some street food! Chichi Frégi comes from a district in the city called l'Estaque and was created by tile factory workers in the 1930s. They are apparently based on an Italian recipe and are similar to churros but not quite the same. This version of the treat is longer in size and more airy giving it a different taste than the other dessert.
Chichi Frégi is the perfect snack for someone with a sweet tooth. The recipe consists of olive oil, chickpea flour, wheat, and the most important ingredient, orange blossom water. Try these sweet delights served with sugar, covered in whipped cream, Nutella and jam, or just plain.
Marseille Food: Bouillabaisse
One of Marseille's most popular dishes is the Bouillabaisse. The city's fragrant fish soup is technically a seafood soup that began as a poor man's dish since it is what the local fishermen would usually make for dinner. To make it they would use the small rockfish that the markets wouldn't buy from them but now, ironically, it is highly sought. Most restaurants serve this meal since it is in such high demand, especially in Le Vieux Port, so finding it should be easy!
When you order a Bouillabaisse you can expect a fish stew made from different kinds of bony Mediterranean fish. Other ingredients include colorful local vegetables, Provence herbs, saffron, and extra-virgin olive oil. They are all slow cooked together in a bouillon, hence the name of the dish. Sometimes the vegetables and fish are removed from the soup and served on their own. The result is a thick broth with deliciously cooked fish and veggies, sometimes served with a side of bread.
Marseille Food: Navettes
If you are looking for a sweet treat grab a serving of Navettes for dessert! This snack is basically a sort of cookie that is shaped like a boat. The history of Navettes begin some 2,000 years ago when these cookies were first baked in commemoration of Saint Martha and Mary Magdalene after their journey by boat.
Tradition states that the cookies should be eaten on February 2nd each year since it is Candlemas Day, however you can find them all year round in the city centre of Marseille. Navettes are commonly made with an orange flower water that gives them their flavor, however different varieties exist. Try them in chocolate, lavender, cinnamon or vanilla!
Marseille Food: Pieds et Paquets
This is one of the best Marseille foods that can also be found in Sisteron. Menus in most local restaurants will have this in their list of meat dishes but it wasn't always such a specialty. Back then the Pieds et Paquets dish was created when meat was hard to find and it was encouraged to use every part of the animal.
This meal is made from stewed lamb's feet and tripe combined with onions, salt pork, garlic and a parsley sauce called persillade. You will have to prepare everything in advance and the ingredients need to be cooked for seven hours minimum! The result is a very tender and delicious meal.
Marseille Food: Picon
If you are someone who likes drinking then you will definitely enjoy the local liqueur called Picon. These drinks feature flavors typical of Marseille, like orange. A soldier named Gaétan Picon created this drink in 1932 while he was apprenticing at a local distillery, which is why it was named after him. He made the drink after being exposed to malaria since the ingredients were known to be effective treatments against the disease.
Picon is made by combining neutral alcohol with caramel, sugar syrup, spices, and herbs such as orange zest, cinchona bark and gentian root. It has a very strong and bitter taste which is why many people like to water it down with beer. However, it can also be mixed with cocktails or white wine. All of the best cocktail bars in Marseille offer this drink so be sure to give it a try!
Marseille Food: Pizza
Believe it or not, but pizza is one of the other dishes that the people of Marseille like to eat. This meal became popular when Italian immigrants arrived, although some locals claim that the wood-fired pizza oven used to cook this meal was created here first. There are lots of places to eat pizza in this part of France so look around until you find your own favorite pizzeria.
If you don't know where to go, check out a restaurant called Chez Etienne. They serve some of the best wood-fired pizza in the city but they serve other seafood and meat dishes as well. Try succulent fried baby squid served with garlic, for example. Choose anything from their dinner menu if you don't know what to eat in Marseille.
Marseille Food: Grand Aioli
Every stylish restaurant in Marseille will have Grand Aioli on its menu since it is a local delicacy. Not only is it very tasty but the Grand Aioli is also healthy, so you won't have to feel guilty treating yourself to seconds! The Aioli sauce originates from Roman times and is commonly used in Provençal cuisine. It is the main ingredient in Grand Aioli, which is one of Marseille's most popular dishes.
The Aioli sauce itself is made using lemon juice, egg yolks and olive oil and is the perfect addition to the Grand Aioli. The first ingredient to this meal is colorful boiled vegetables like zucchinis, potatoes, artichokes and carrots. Combine that with salt cod, hard boiled eggs, and the sauce to create this tasty dish! Some people also use Aioli as a dipping sauce.
Marseille Food: Poutargue
Another fantastic dish popular in Mediterranean cuisine is Poutargue. This delicacy is made with fish eggs, more specifically mullet, which is a Mediterranean fish. You can order it from most seafood restaurants and it is highly recommended for anyone who enjoys seafood dishes.
If you order this dish, chances are that it will be served to you in the form of a sausage and wrapped in wax. You can eat it just like this by cutting it into thin slices, or eat like the locals do and use it as an ingredient in pastas. It goes pretty well with most simple dishes and lasts for a while, so many people in Marseille like to keep it in their fridge to use as an ingredient in meals.
Marseille Food: Grilled Duck Breast
Hungry for something tender and tasty? The Grilled Duck Breast is a meal that can't be beaten and is one of the inventive dishes originating from Southern France. One of the best places to eat this meal is actually a seafood restaurant called Les Bords De Mer.
This restaurant is situated in a renovated art deco hotel that is full of charm and personality. When it comes to food they know how to do it right, especially the Grilled Duck Breast! It is served with carrots and a tasty sweet and sour sauce that compliments it perfectly.
Marseille Food: Panisse
Panisse is a sort of pancake made from chickpea flour, but they aren't eaten for breakfast. Instead, you will find them on the lunch menu of most local restaurants and they are a fantastic option for those with dietary requirements. Panisse is both vegan and gluten-free! The meal originated from the l'Estaque district and was potentially made by Italian workers in the 1930s.
Panisse is usually made from chickpea flour, olive oil, salt, pepper and water. The end result is a satisfyingly smooth pastry with a crispy texture. They are sometimes rolled into the shape of a log and cut into thin slices and then fried, however other shapes and ways of being cooked also exist. You can usually find them being sold in baggies on the street or in take-away eateries. They also make great sides for meals or appetizers with dips. It is the perfect snack for anyone who wants to taste chickpea delicacies!
Marseille Food: Duck and Jerusalem Artichoke Puree
This is another one of the inventive Southern French dishes to try. Ingredients include duck, hazelnuts, dates and roasted salsify. It is a meal that can be found in other places around the world but one of the best spots to taste it is right here in Marseille, France. There are several restaurants that you can order this meal from but one of the top contenders is a place called Sépia. They are lucky that chef Paul Langlère moved into this city after gaining experience at several Alain Ducasse restaurants since he is one of the best people to make this dish!
Sépia is a restaurant found in a charming bungalow surrounded by a pleasant garden overlooking the city. Chef Paul comes up with a brief lunch menu that changes often so come see what they are serving while you are in town. Another fantastic choice is the roasted lamb shoulder paired with oyster mushrooms en persillade.
Eating the Best of the Mediterranean Cultures in Marseille
From inventive craft cocktails to dishes made of meat and seafood, there is no doubt that the local food in Marseille, France is excellent. The people of this city like to prioritize local seasonal produce as much as possible which is why their meals are so unique and delicious.
When people hear France they mostly think of the French fry, but truth is that there are so many less known dishes that can only be eaten here. As a port city, it is clear that the locals love their seafood which is why fresh fish and other ingredients from the water, like sea urchins and oysters, are common ingredients.
There are also some fantastic sweet delights to enjoy for anyone who has a sweet tooth! If you get tired of being in the dining room, check out the top hikes in Marseille to get active after eating all of these incredible foods. You can also head to Gare Saint Charles to take an adventure by bus or train to a nearby area for walking and exploring.