View from Le Chalet rstaurant, MarseilleThe main reason to visit this informal open-air restaurant in the grounds of the Jardin du Pharo is its incredible 180 degree panorama across the Old Port.

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Le Chalet is perched high on a mound at the neck of the port, so you can keep tabs on all the maritime traffic coming in and out, or look across to the MuCEM and Fort Saint Jean. We reckon it's the best view on the Old Port and the terrace is small enough for nobody to end up very far from it.

Arrive at midday or at 2pm, when the best tables become available again for a late lunch - or call the restraurant ahead to book a good table.

A stone's throw away is the Sofitel, with its posh Les Trois Forts restaurant, but at Le Chalet you can enjoy a similar vista for a fraction of the cost.

Note that the restaurant is very poorly signposted and easy to miss. Enter the Pharo park, bear to your right and then dive down a little alley to your right next to a children's roundabout. Perhaps for this reason, it isn't on the main tourist trail and has always been full of locals when we visited.

The food is simple but good, mainly grills of meat and fresh fish. The "starter" portions of salads, including a vegetarian option, are very substantial and could constitute a light meal in themselves.

Le Chalet restaurant, MarseilleSome dishes have an oriental flavour; others are traditional provençal. The Italian antipasta is excellent. This is not gastronomic cuisine, but it's good home cooking.

Decent house wine is available by the carafe too. The evening menu is pricier. Note too that Le Chalet does not accept credit cards, so bring cash unless you can pay with a French cheque.

The restaurant serves lunch until about 2.30, then remains open throughout the afternoon for ices and teas.

If you would like to watch the magical spectacle of the sun setting over the port, you need to reserve in advance for dinner (available June- Sept only). Aim not to arrive too late, as the gates of the Jardin du Pharo are locked at 11pm.

Le Chalet is closed between November and the beginning of March and it's not ideal on a windy day, although plastic screens are erected to shield diners from the Mistral.

Before or after eating, you might like to take a stroll around the park. It's nothing special but boasts a playground, plenty of grass for children to run around, a rather splendid sculpture installation by Bernar Venet and yet more lovely views all across the city and bay.

The Palais du Pharo was a residence built for Napoleon III, who never actually used it; today it is a conference centre and medical school.

Visited June 2010, September 2016, September 2017

Where: Jardin du Pharo, 13007 Marseille. Tel: (+33) 4 91 52 80 11. How to get there: Bus 83 (direction Rond-Pont du Prado) from the Old Port.

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