72% Petanque shop, MarseilleThis is our guide to Marseille's best shops and where to buy the perfect gift or souvenir, haute couture and hot designers, arts and crafts, food and drink and antiques bargains.

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Marseille doesn't have a flagship shopping street comparable to the rue du Faubourg Saint Honoré in Paris, London's Bond Street or Fifth Avenue in New York - the closest equivalent is the rue Paradis, though it doesn't have quite the same cachet.

As with so much else about this melting-pot city, you are very likely to see, in the city centre, top-of-the-range stores next to funky little New Age boutiques, high-street chains, scruffy discount outlets or traditional family groceries and bakeries which have been there for decades. In some cases, for centuries.

This said, the shopping scene in Marseille is changing very fast. The old 1960s Centre Bourse mall just behind the Canebière has had an award-winning facelift. And the northern seafront strip between the Old Port and the cruise ship terminals has been intensively developed as a retail shopping area.

2014 saw the opening of Les Terrasses du Port, a major high-end shopping mall, joined shortly afterwards by a strip of boutiques and food outlets in the vaults of the Major Cathedral. Another project in the same area was the conversion of the former warehouses at Les Docks, which opened the following year.

Shops in Marseille are generally open from Monday to Saturday between 10am and 7pm non-stop, though some smaller boutiques may close for lunch.

More recently a number of stores have also opened for business on Sundays, though with (so far) decidedly mixed success. Many shops in the Centre Bourse shopping mall and city centre have largely abandoned the experiment.

However, with an eagle eye on cruise tourists, Les Terrasses du Port is certainly open on Sundays, as are both Les Docks and Les Halles de la Major.

This page covers shops only. Click here to read about Marseille's varied street markets which offer a wealth of further possibilities.

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SOUVENIRS, GIFTS AND TRADITIONAL HANDICRAFTS

The Old Port of MarseilleWhat's the best souvenir to bring back from Marseille? Bizarrely according to some reports, a replica of the Eiffel Tower has found great favour, especially with cruise ship passengers who make only one stop in France and - unlike the locals - aren't too fussed about the difference between Paris and Marseille.

However, even if you are in Marseille for just a few hours, it's not difficult to find attractive and authentic mementos in the Old Port area.

You would expect this part of town to be teeming with tacky souvenir shops. And there are indeed a few places selling postcards, posters, cheap ceramics made in China and the like around the quai des Belges / quai de la Fraternité). But most of the Old Port itself is lined with restaurants and bars.

Marseille soapHowever if you walk along the quai du Port, you will find traditional santons (Christmas crib figurines) at Santons Escoffier (96 quai du Port), flanked by several outlets offering savon de Marseille, including pastis-scented soaps - though, thankfully, not soap-flavoured pastis.

Pop into the backstreets of the Panier (Old Town) to find another archetypal Marseille souvenir, a pétanque set, at the specialist manufacturer La Boule Bleue. 4 place des 13 Cantons, which also has a mini-museum of boules at this tiny address.

On the other side of the Old Port, some appealing sea-themed presents can be found in the strip of the quai de Rive Neuve between the Bar de la Marine and the Criée Theatre.

Here a cluster of chandlers and fishing suppliers also sell striped sailing sweaters and other casual nautical clothing, exquisitely detailed model ships and pointus (typical Marseille fishing boats), ship's crockery and other accessories, prints and posters, books and children's toys.

Behind the quai de Rive Neuve are more gift options. Check out Les Arcenaulx at 25 cours d'Estienne d'Orvès which has a very large selection of illustrated books, mostly - though not exclusively - in French, on Marseille and Provence, as well as an antiquarian section.

Its handcrafts and food department is a goldmine of upscale gifts and purveys local specialities, including tins of sardines in pastis.

Two blocks back from the quai de Rive Neuve sits the base and shop of the master-santonnier Marcel Carbonel at 49 rue neuve Sainte Catherine with more Christmas crib figures.

Wherever you are in Marseille, you'll have no problems finding Olympique de Marseille memorabilia at official OM outlets and other shops all across the city. There's one fairly large OM store at 44 La Canebière.

The Olympique de Marseille museum and shopAcross town, the Vélodrome stadium - the team's main base, which you can also tour at certain times of year - has an enormous OM shop.

One little boutique just off the top of the Old Port is worth a visit for gift-hunters: Marseille in the Box at 13 rue Reine Elisabeth offers local products wittily packaged in specially designed boxes. And at 11 La Canebière, the Marseille Tourist Office sells a small range of posters, decorative biscuit tins and similar items.

If you are after indiennes, the colourful fabrics of Provence, the cheapest spots to find them in Marseille are two textile emporia at the edge of the Noailles market on the rue de Rome half-way up the Canebière. Olivades, a high-end manufacturer of indiennes fabrics, has an outlet in Marseille.

HAUTE COUTURE AND HIGH STREET FASHION

Marseille is not known for top-of-the-range shopping. But if this is what you have on your mind, the small "golden rectangle" of streets just behind the Opéra de Marseille contains a number of deluxe marques, including the long-established jeweller's Frojo.

Louis Vuitton is based in an 18th century hôtel particulier on the rue Grignan, just opposite the Musée Cantini: it's the largest Vuitton store in France outside of Paris.

The rue Paradis has Hermès, Montblanc, Robert Clergerie, and Chopard, alongside various newcomers. Agnès B, meanwhile, has a large outlet on the nearby cours d'Estienne d'Orvès. In the rue Davso and rue Sainte you will find more mainstream designer brands.

Things start getting a lot scruffier by the rue de Rome, where many businesses have closed down as a result of long disruptions during work on a new tram line. These works are finally complete, and the fortunes of this shopping street may now revive.

Some interesting old-style Marseille shops are tucked away here between the discount stores. Watch out in particular for the Herboristerie Père Blaize, a herbalist dating to 1815 that has been in the same family for generations.

Hidden down a narrow alleyway, this traditional shop with its old wooden counter and stacked boxes of herbs and spices is a treasure trove of cures, infusions, plants and cosmetics. 4-6 rue Méolan.

Just around the corner and almost as old is the always busy Maison Empereur (founded in 1827), the oldest ironmongery in France: great for kitchenware and superchef knives. 4 rue des Récolettes.

Marseille's main department store Galeries Lafayette is on the pedestrianised rue Saint Ferréol (or the rue Saint Fé, as it's known locally) - though it will shortly be moving out of the centre of town. It includes a Gucci franchise selling women's and men's accessories and is open on Sundays. Check out the panoramic roof terrace too, if it's open. The rue Saint Ferréol, pictured, is also home to many high-street favourites.

rue Saint Ferreol, MarseilleElsewhere in central Marseille, the Centre Bourse shopping mall contains another branch of Galeries Lafayette alongside around 60 more outlets.

The Centre Bourse has undergone a facelift in order to give the stark, military-looking bunker a more open, curvacious and "feminine" look, according to the developers, who clearly have women shoppers in their sights.

The nearby rue de la République was originally cut through the Old Town of Marseille in 1864 in order to create a route linking the Old Port and the fast developing new commercial port area.

With its sparklingly refurbished Haussmann-style apartment blocks, it has been attempting to establish itself as a shopping centre, though the current range of franchise stores (Mango, H&M, etc.) isn't really yet worth a detour.

In 2013 the budget clothing outlet Primark opened its first French store in Marseille. It's located in the Grand Littoral shopping mall to the north of the city and is difficult to access without a car, though it has been a huge hit with locals.

 

Retail therapy in Marseille moved into a new dimension in 2014 / 2015 with the opening of three major new retail centres in the Joliette / Euroméditerranée district by the commercial port area.

Vaults of La MajorLes Voûtes de la Major (the vaults of the Major Cathedral), pictured, have been converted into 40 high-end retail outlets. Next to the Musée Regards de Provence and just opposite the MuCEM and the Villa Méditerranée, this whole area has also been splendidly landscaped.

This has been a huge project and the city has done a stunning job. The complex has a park with views across to the sea, rows of benches to rest your weary feet, a magnificently restored double staircase and fountain and even a little children's playground.

Among the businesses housed in the 7,200 square metre / 77,500 square foot vaults are the Grasse perfumier Fragonard, the Marseille chocolatier L'Espérantine, the manufacturer of Marseille's chocolate speciality, a large Habitat store and a handful of gourmet food shops in a covered market area called Les Halles de la Major.

Here you can buy food either to take away or to eat on the spot: the butcher will grill you a slice of nice Charolais steak and the shellfish stall will shuck your oysters! There's an outdoor terrace with sea views for fine days.

The complex also contains several bars and cafes, including a tapas bar, a coffee shop and an upscale wine bar. Les Halles offers family-themed brunches on Sundays and stays open late at weekends, when it's becoming popular with young Marseillais as a night time venue.

A little further along the coastal roadaway from the Old Port, Les Docks - or rather, Les Docks Village, as it likes to call itself, is yet another shopping centre, but with a difference.

Financed by the American investment bank JP Morgan, the 50 million €uro conversion of the historic docks warehouses has been done with sensitivity and taste. In fact Les Docks have been showered with major architectural prizes.

 

 

Unlike the nearby Terrasses du Port, the emphasis is not on big multi-national brands but on independent, local restaurateurs, service providers and artisans. When all the units are occupied, there will be about 60 outlets and it's open seven days a week.

Terrasses du PortFinally, Les Terrasses du Port itself, pictured, developed by the British company Hammerson, is a mammoth shopping mall right on the waterfront.

Criss-crossed by escalators and glass-walled lifts / elevators, this vast, maze-like complex contains some two hundred shops and restaurants and sprawls along the coast over four floors and 61,000 square metres / 656,600 square feet. It's also open seven days a week.

In addition to two department stores, Monoprix and Printemps, and a huge Apple store on the top level, the retail outlets include international, French and local names, among them Uniqlo, The Kooples, Adidas, The North Face, Lacoste, Little Marcel, Puyricard chocolate and La Savonnerie Marseillaise.

There's also a food hall and services such as a beauty salon and a travel agency, as well as wheelchair and pushchair hire and a nursery for parents to depose their children (for a small charge) while they do their shopping.

On the lower ground level is a "fitness park" and, on the top floor, a spectacular 260 metre / 285 yard long open-air promenade overlooking the sea and ferry and cruise terminals. The free cruise shuttle buses should stop here on their route from the terminal to the city centre. If you're coming from the Old Port, one of the little tourist trains will take you there.

The roof terrace stays open late in the evening for dining and - in summer - discos after the stores have closed.

NEW DESIGNERS, ARTISTS AND ARTISANS

The tiny rue de la Tour in the above-mentioned golden rectangle behind the Opéra has rebranded itself as the rue de la Mode and is inhabited by half a dozen interesting local designers.

And a stunning new arrival in 2015 was the Jardin Montgrand, at 35 rue Montgrand, undoubtedly Marseille's classiest concept store. A beautifully restored 19th century hôtel particulier with moulded ceilings, marble fireplaces and so on houses a select couple of dozen designers and perfumiers. Its jewel is the gorgeous gardens at the back where - in summer - you can relax over tea, ice-cream, cakes, lunch...

Cours Julien, MarseilleThe two best places in central Marseille to find New Age crafts, small art galleries, alternative retail outlets, and cutting-edge new designers (clothes, crafts, homeware, etc.) are the Cours Julien district and the Old Town, or Panier.

The cours Ju, as it's known (pictured), is a wide, leafy pedestrian area lined mainly with cafes and restaurants, but the streets around teem with intriguing little stores. They tend to come and go, of course, but the local association website (in French only) is a good place to start.

On the cours Ju itself, Oogie at no.55 was Marseille's first "lifestore", with clothes, books, a café and hairdressing salon, and remains a favourite. Madame Zaza de Marseille at no.73 is one of the city's best-known designer labels, celebrated for its light, playful touch and ethnic style.

The winding and labyrinthine backstreets of the Old Town are also richly populated with small craft shops, artists' studios and speciality food outlets and here too it's best just to stroll around if you have an hour or two and see what catches your eye while soaking in the atmosphere. Pictured top left: the curiously named 72% Pétanque at 10 rue du petit Puits in the Old Town which sells Marseille soap and other local products.

 

FOOD AND DRINK

Marseille's best-known food speciality is the navette, an orange-flower flavoured, boat-shaped biscuit, or cookie, traditionally eaten at Candlemas: read more about it here. Two historic bakeries on opposite sides of the Old Port sell freshly made navettes.

Esperantines de Marseille chocolatesOn the Old Town side is Les Navettes des Accoules at 68 rue Caisserie, while on the Notre Dame de la Garde side is La Four des Navettes at 136 rue Sainte. If buying navettes to take home, be advised that they tend to go soggy quickly, though you can crisp them up later by heating them gently.

You can eat chocolate while still feeling (relatively) virtuous with Marseille's own invention, the espérantine, pictured, which is based on healthy olive oil rather than animal fats, is shaped like an olive leaf and coloured bright green.

It's attractively packaged, tastes a lot nicer than it sounds and definitely an original. You can buy them at 70 rue Caisserie, Les Voûtes de la Major and other outlets around town.

The calisson, a sweet speciality of Aix en Provence, is readily available in Marseille, but one major manufacturer now has its own store which sells a wider selection: La Confiserie du Roy René at 1 rue de la République.

Two long-established delicatessens selling fine cheeses, patisseries, conserves, ready-made dishes and all sorts of other local produce are Bataille at 18 rue Fontange in the cours Julien district and Marrou at 2 boulevard Baille and 475 rue Paradis. But you'll have to go across town to 64 avenue du Prado to find the Marseillais' favourite fromagerie, Chez Magali.

La Place des Huiles at no.28 place aux Huiles is the best place for olive oil and soaps. Click here to read our guide to olive oils of Provence.

Pastis bottle and glassesFor Marseille's iconic apéritif, visit La Maison du Pastis at 108 quai du Port. Actually founded by a Belgian, Frédéric Bernard, the company distills its own prize-winning brand and sells dozens more types of pastis, the odd absinthe and accessories such as jugs and carafes.

If you want to buy wine in Marseille, a very good central spot is 29 place aux Huiles, a top-class restaurant (click here to read a full review) as well as a wine bar and wine merchant (cave à vins).

Its sommelier, Mickael Zortian, trained with the superchef Alain Ducasse at Le Louis XV in Paris and has built up a cellar of over 2,000 wines.

Over at the bottom of the Panier, La Descente des Accoules, founded in 1899, plausibly claims to be the oldest wine cellar in Marseille. It sells local cheeses and charcuterie as well. At 4 rue de l'Echêvé. For organic wines, try Si Belle la Vigne at 36 cours Julien.

For everyday food and wine shopping, the best bet in the Old Port area is Lafayette Gourmet, the recently expanded and refurbished food hall of Galeries Lafayette in the Centre Bourse. It's open all day Sunday.

Monoprix at 8 cours Saint Louis, just off the lower stretch of the Canebière is a budget department store with a large food hall on the first floor and is open on Sunday mornings.

And for fresh local produce and regional specialities, try the new food hall in the vaults of the Major Cathedral (see above) or the new, albeit smaller covered food market in the rue d'Endoume near Saint Victor Abbey on the south side of the Old Port.

ANTIQUES AND VINTAGE

Numerous antique shops and art galleries have set up home in the so-called "quartier des Antiquaires": the rue Edmond Rostand, rue Sylvabelle and rue Saint-Jacques near the Préfecture. Every three months this district also closes its streets to traffic and hosts an open-air Sunday antiques market. The cours Julien is another good hunting ground for vintage clothes, books and records. See our market page guide for details of these, and Marseille's other street markets.

 

 

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