It won’t surprise you to learn that much of the city’s cuisine revolves around fish and seafood, epitomised by the local speciality bouillabaisse - a humble fish stew that will set you back anywhere from €10 (probably best avoided) to the infinitely more refined €160 version in the city’s Michelin three starred Le Petit Nice. Find a price point somewhere in the middle, and give it a go.
For a fresh seafood experience, try La Boîte à Sardine (boulevard de la Libération) a fishmongers that doubles as a small restaurant. Its size means there’s always a busy feel and buzz about the place, but mains will set you back from €12-15 typically.
The Panier District, which broadly lies at the center of the city, north of the Vieux Port, is a winding network of pedestrianised streets and quiet squares where you’ll find plenty of options for a bite to eat. Place de Lenche, a typical small square, is filled with tables from the various cafes and bistros that line its edges, for example. Chez Etienne at the northern end of the district offers superb pizzas, as well as local specialities in a raucous atmosphere.
When it comes to drinking, so much of the action is situated around the old port. From classy cocktail bars to downmarket brasseries, backstreet boozers to upscale nightclubs, you can find pretty much anything to suit your taste in the heart of the city. As a general rule of thumb, the further you move back from the waterfront the cheaper (and perhaps less salubrious) the venues.
If you’re looking for a cheap and cheerful bar, don’t miss L’Unic (cours Jean Ballard), a haunt of musicians, artist and bohemians alike, it’s a real slice of the lively Marseille bar scene.
For those looking for a taste of home from home, there are a number of British/Irish pubs in the city, too - O’Brady’s Irish Pub (avenue de Mazargues) which offers a range of pub grub, along with the Shamrock Irish Pub (quai de Rive-Neuve) and the Red Lion (avenue Pierre Mendes) which are more drink focussed. All three feature a range of domestic and imported beers, and happy hours during the early evening.