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.

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His establishment has a rather nondescript modern frontage opening into a small, long, functional interior with warm cream-coloured walls. The original café seated just 20 diners. But in 2014 Sylvain Depuichaffray expanded the premises which can now accommodate a further 40 gourmets, which, given the popularity of the place, can only be excellent news.

It's just along the road from the super Musée Cantini but definitely in a slightly scruffy part of town. There are no frills here; no chandeliers or fancy porcelain. The pâtisserie is served on plain, inexpensive white plates with everyday cutlery. The prices are unassuming too.

Instead, all the effort and artistry have gone where it really counts: the cakes, which are miniature works of art. They're not displayed in the plate glass window but in a counter set at right angles to it. You have to enter the shop to drool over them. And drool over them you will.

As well as looking exquisite, they taste superb. Depuichaffray trained with Reine Sammut, the Pourcel brothers and Hermé, and worked for a while in Australia before setting up in Marseille in 2004. His creations draw on these eclectic influences.

Cake on plate, Sylvain Depuichaffray, MarseilleSome employ unusual ingredients such as bergamot, violets or basil. Especially delicious is a tartelette (pictured) cradling a ganache perfumed with lychees and green tea and crowned with three perfect raspberries.

But Depuichaffray also does classics such as éclairs, meringues, millefeuilles, macaroons or religieuses (a sort of double profiterole).

Some have a modern or a local spin, such as his cheesecake, made with the delicate, highly prized brousse (goat's cheese) from nearby Le Rove.

At lunchtime you can eat a sandwich, quiche or pizza there (be warned: the place gets packed), but the cakes are the thing.

They can be bought to take away too, along with croissants, chocolate and ice-creams. It's probably just as well that a shop selling slimming products can be found a couple of doors down.

Where: Sylvain Depuichaffray, 66 rue Grignan, 13001 Marseille. Tel: (+33) 4 91 33 09 75.

Closed for four weeks in August.

 

 

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