As often in Marseille, appearances are deceptive chez Casa Honoré. The peeling frontage of a disused print works in a street behind the Old Port opens into a spacious modernist ryad. Think Dr Who's tardis.
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Behind it is Annick Lestrohan, the fashion and interior designer and founder of the Honoré marque. Her father was a printer, and so she was intrigued by the derelict factory, the modest entrance to which is pictured below.
She bought it in 2000 and transformed it, with her husband Bernard Colombani, into a luxurious and imaginative family home.
They removed the factory's glass roof to create an open-air interior courtyard with a small swimming pool in the middle surrounded by lush vegetation, and a open chain of airy, artfully designed living areas running around all four sides.
After her five children had grown up, Lestrohan relaunched Casa Honoré as a guesthouse in 2008.
Since then its daring mix of North African influences, post-industrial chic, vintage and reclaimed furniture and exuberant modernism has been the subject of innumerable excited features in glossy style and travel magazines.
The monogrammed linen and many of the other furnishings are for sale in the Honoré homeware store two doors along the street where there is also a small bar. It gives a new meaning to the concept of a boutique hotel.
Casa Honoré is close to the restaurants on the Old Port and the Cours Honoré Estienne d'Orves, as well as the fast up-and-coming and trendy district around the Abbaye Saint Victor.
Yet, despite its proximity to the main Marseille action, it feels like an oasis of elegant and exclusive tranquillity in the heart of the city.
The downside: the gorgeous ground-floor accommodation is still for the family's use and, while guests aren't banned from either it or the pool, you do feel a slight sense of intruding upon a private space.
Accessed up a steep, narrow staircase to the first and second floors, the four rather pricey guest bedrooms are immaculately decorated with splashes of colour against a background of white.
The second-floor bedroom we visited was low-ceilinged and a little on the small side (the others, reportedly more spacious, were unavailable for viewing).
They're all set around the inner courtyard and none of them overlooks the Old Port. The breakfast room is also on the first floor overlooking the pool. And - a very big plus in this part of town - off-street parking is available.
Visited April 2011
Where: Casa Honoré, 123 rue Sainte, 13007 Marseille. Note that the house numbers at this point on the rue Sainte run, confusingly, 21-25-23. Tel: (+33) 4 96 11 01 62 or (+33) 6 09 50 38 52.