Bars and Cafés

Provence has a highly developed café culture and there are few greater pleasures than relaxing with a coffee, pastis or glass of rosé and watching the world go by.

This is a selection of some of the best bars, bistros and brasseries to do exactly that in Aix en Provence, Avignon and Marseille. The line in France between bistros and restaurants is a fluid one and many of these addresses also serve light food, sometimes very good food too, though they're famed for their atmosphere more for their cuisine. Enjoy!

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Les Deux Garcons, Aix en ProvenceNo visit to Aix is complete without a trip to Les Deux Garçons, the city's legendary brasserie known informally as the 2Gs.

The Bar de la Marine, MarseilleThe iconic bar of Marseille, the Bar de la Marine on the Old Port was the setting for Marcel Pagnol's famous trilogy, Marius, Fanny and César.

The OM Cafe, MarseilleIf you can't make the Vélodrome, the OM Brasserie (formerly known as the OM Café), right on the Old Port, is the place to watch an Olympique de Marseille football match live on its 13 plasma screens.

La Samaritaine brasserie, MarseilleOne of the last of the old-style brasseries on the Old Port of Marseille, La Samaritaine, which celebrated its centenary in 2010, is positively steeped in history.

Le Cintra, Aix en ProvenceA long-established local institution, this simple brasserie just off La Rotonde is remarkably cheap by Aix standards, has a vast menu and serves hot food 24/7, 365 days a year.

Cafe de l'Abbaye, MarseilleDo you like the sound of a local bar that offers hearty home cooking at knockdown prices? Yet is close to tourist sights, has great views from the terrace and stays open late? If this appeals, the Café de l'Abbaye hits the spot.

Cakes at Sylvain Depuichaffray, MarseilleIf it weren't for the smell of delicious baking, you might easily walk past this tearoom in a backstreet near the Old Port. Which is a pity, because locals regard Sylvain Depuichaffray as the best pâtissier in Marseille.

The terrace of Le Charite Cafe, MarseilleIn the courtyard of the Vieille Charité in the Old Town, surrounded by colonnades dotted with olive trees in terracotta pots, this snack bar serves teas, drinks and, at midday, simple meals. It's a lovely, peaceful terrace on a hot day.

Plauchut tea room and patisserie, Marseille Near the top of the Canebière this deliciously old-fashioned patisserie, the oldest, in fact, in Marseille (est. 1820), offers a vast array of cakes, chocolate and biscuits, including many local specialities and sweetmeats.

Cinema Utopia AvignonHidden away at the back of the Palais des Papes, next to Pope Urban V's private garden, the Bistro d'Utopia is a little away from the main tourist drag and one of the coolest bars in Avignon.

Torrefaction Noailles tearoom, MarseilleThe wrought-iron canopy and ornate frontage of Torréfaction Noailles lead to a cool, tiled interior infused with fragrant coffees and teas.

Florence Bianchi of Le Glacier du RoiWith its aristocratic name and dramatic, low-slung chandelier made of Murano glass, this classy ice-cream parlour on the edge of the Old Town is one of the most popular in Marseille.

View of the Marseille Old Port from the Caravelle barTrue to its name - a 15th century sailing ship - La Caravelle has a nautical theme for its warm wooden interior, decorated with model ships and marine memorabilia.

Au Pet't Quart d'Heure logoIf you want to avoid the overpriced bars on the Cours Mirabeau: take a tour into the Old Town to this friendly little spot where a glass of wine costs just one €uro.

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