One 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.
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The premises, built in 1860, started life as a department store (no relation to the celebrated store of the same name in Paris) and were relaunched as a brasserie after the shop closed down in 1910.
One of the men who bought it, a Monsieur Zutta, was a poor immigrant from the Italian Piedmont who retained the café in his family for generations.
It was entirely rebuilt after being burned down in 1945 by a fire caused by German bombing. Click here to read more about the Old Port and Old Town of Marseille during World War Two and here to read more about the history of La Samaritaine itself on the brasserie's excellent website (in French only).
Today, La Samaritaine is a Marseille institution for breakfasts, simple lunches, teas and ices and apéritifs. Its elegantly sweeping curved glass facade and terrace look out on to the intersection of three major roads.
Luckily the traffic noise, previously a serious annoyance, is now much reduced since 2013, when the Old Port was partly pedestrianised and a one-way traffic system introduced. It's a great spot to sit and watch the world go by.
The establishment is reputed for its professional service and observes tradition: newspapers on sticks, free amuse gueles (olives, peanuts) with your drink. There are occasional art exhibitions and music evenings (check the website for details). The prices reflect the prime position.
Where: 2 quai du Port, 13002 Marseille. Tel: (+33) 4 91 90 31 41.
How to get there: Metro (line 1, stop Vieux Port).