Green Bear coffee cupMarseille is still far behind for vegetarian, vegan and organic dining, and so it's no surprise that the tasty, healthy, ethical and cheap snacks at Green Bear Coffee have found instant success.

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The first little Green Bear (known to regulars as GBC) was a pioneer in what the French call, simply "bio" and claims to be the first one of its kind in Marseille.

Pictured below, it opened in 2009 on the ground floor of a Haussmann-style 19th century apartment building on a side-street near the Opéra de Marseille and just a few yards from the Old Port.

Three years later a second, larger GBC followed, this time strategically placed opposite one of the city's university buildings at the top of the Canebière (handy to know if you're in this part of town, which is otherwise a bit of a culinary desert). Students crowd into it, taking advantage of the cheap eats and free wi-fi.

And in September 2015 the empire expanded yet again, with a third café in the newly fashionable Préfecture district south of the Old Port.

Green Bear Coffee MarseilleAll three branches have a sober, unassuming façade, a cluster of tables outside for sunny days and counter service.

The Green Bear style (the three outlets vary slightly) is warm, casual decor with recycled or handmade furniture, moulded ceilings, exposed brickwork and wooden floors. Newspapers and books are available to leaf through while you eat. There is even a menu in English.

They all share a similar short, constantly changing menu: freshly pressed fruit juices and good, Fairtrade coffee and tea. The brown sugar comes from a sustainable source in Paraguay and soy milk is available if you prefer it.

Plus, its superior restauration rapide. That's French for fast food, which is a good deal nicer than the English or American variety. Green Bear's restauration rapide manages to be bio, imaginative and delicious.

The line-up takes in sandwiches, burritos, veggie burgers, some unusual quiches such as carrot and preserved lemon, salads and soups, which might include squash and cinnamon, lentils and coconut or Chinese cabbage.

Basic daily specials like stir fries and curries are chalked on the blackboard and carnivores are catered for too. You could comfortably eat a good light lunch here, including a drink and a dessert, for under 12 €uros (there are various low-priced prix fixe deals).

Hint: arrive early to take advantage of the full choice: everything is made fresh on the day and things do sell out fast.

The sweet-toothed can - and indeed should - snack on the range of muffins, coffees and cakes, all home-made: we tried a confection of almonds and raspberry and a carrot cake, both super. The cheesecake has its own dedicated fan-club. Gluten-free options are also available.

Green Bear offers takeaway food (in recyclable or biogradable packaging, of course) and a home delivery service (on pushbikes). All three branches are open during the day only and, slightly surprisingly, take credit cards, though not Amex.

By the way, in case you're wondering, the owner, Guillaume Orcel, named Green Bear in honour of The Grey Dog, a New York coffeeshop, where he used to hang out while living there.

Where: Green Bear Coffee, 17 rue Glandèves and 123 La Canebière, both 13001 Marseille, plus 32 boulevard Paul Peytral, 13006 Marseille. Website for Green Bear Coffee

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