LionelLevyOver the last few years, a wave of chefs has transformed Marseille's food scene and today it is one of the most vibrant, varied and inventive in France. logoClick here to book a hotel in Marseille

Pictured above: Lionel Lévy of the Michelin-starred L'Alcyone, a key figure on the Marseille food scene.

Click here to see our personal selection of some of the best restaurants in Marseille, including that one. Click here if you're looking for the restaurants serving the best bouillabaisse in Marseille.

Not so long ago, Marseille was a place to order fresh fish or shellfish and basic, classic provençal cooking, but nothing much more adventurous.

However over the last 15 years or so gastronomy has blossomed here and the restaurant scene has become more and more exciting: in short, just what you'd would expect from a sophisticated big city.

That's been reflected in Marseille's rise and rise in the leading restaurant guides. For years there were just two or three places in town with a Michelin star. But in the 2018 Michelin guide there are five restaurants.

AM Mazzia at workThe long established Le petit Nice continues proudly to hold on to its three stars. And there are now four more restaurants with one star each: L'Epuisette; Lévy's Alcyone, the restaurant at Marseille's new five-star hotel, the InterContinental Hôtel Dieu; the excellent AM par Alexandre Mazzia, pictured, which opened in 2014; and Une Table, au Sud on the Old Port which was taken over by a new, young chef, Ludovic Turac, in early 2013.

Marseille has done outstandingly well in the Gault & Millau guide too. Two Marseillais chefs, Gérard Passédat and Alexandre Mazzia each has four toques and several more chefs from the city are cited as "Young Talents".

But in truth you can eat extremely well at even a modest restaurant. Leading chefs from Marseille, Aix en Provence and the surrounding area have founded an association, Gourméditerrannée, to promote the region's gastronomy.

Initially formed to highlight the importance of food during the Marseille-Provence European Capital of Culture year in 2013, its mission continues with initiatives such as Food'In Sud (sic).

This big conference and trade fair is held in Marseille every two years and attracted thousands of visitors. Gourméditerranée also organises educational and charity events and food festivals.

Gourmediterranee chefsOver 50 top chefs (some of them are pictured here) now belong to the organisation. One of its aims is to celebrate the diversity and cross-influences of cuisines from countries all around the Mediterranean basin, Lévy told us at Food'In Sud.

And Gourméditerranée is not just about starry smart restaurants, Lévy stressed: its members also include speciality outlets and roving street-food trucks.

The distinctive style of cooking in Marseille focusses on simple, fresh, healthy Mediterranean ingredients: low on the meat, animal fats and heavy sauces of traditional French cuisine, high on vegetables, pulses, olive oil and fish.

And it's all spiced up with influences from the city's successive waves of immigrants, in particular Italian, Spanish, Armenian, Turkish, North African, Caribbean and Chinese. Today, then, it goes without saying that Marseille is no longer just about bouillabaisse.

The visitor to Marseille today is really spoiled for choice, but there follows a selection of some of the best places to eat out: click on the links for full details and reviews.

Different as they are, each offers great food, value for money and its own unique selling point. This section will be added to regularly, so check back soon for new additions.

Click here to read about Marseille's best bars and cafés, many of which also serve food - and often it's very good too. And click here to view a complete and up-to-date list of all the Michelin-starred restaurants in Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur (PACA)

For visionary, avant-garde cuisine by (in our view) the best chef in town: AM par Alexandre Mazzia, 9 rue François Rocco, 13008 Marseille. Tel: (+33) 4 91 24 83 63

For imaginative, affordable dining in the Cours Julien district: Lacaille, 42 rue des Trois Mages, 13006 Marseille. Tel: (+33) 9 86 33 20 33

For super-fresh shellfish a stone's throw from the Old Port: Chez Toinou, 3 cours Saint Louis, 13001 Marseille. Tel: (+33) 4 91 54 08 79

For classy Italian antipasti and wines in a casual bistro open 7/7: Marcello Pane e Vino, 29 place aux Huiles, 13001 Marseille. Tel: (+33) 4 91 33 26 44

For high-quality bistronomic eats on a peaceful square off the Old Port: On Dine, 22 rue de la Guirlande, 13002 Marseille. Tel (+33) 9 83 53 83 41

For good-value food in a hip designer brasserie near Saint Charles Station: Le Comptoir Dugommier, 14 boulevard Dugommier, 13001 Marseille. Tel: (+33) 4 91 62 21 21

For bold food and wine pairings by a former wine-maker: Vinonéo, 6 place Daviel, 13002 Marseille. Tel: (+33) 4 91 90 40 26

For high-quality, imaginative, affordable brasserie food in the centre of town: Le Café des Epices, 4 rue du Lacydon, 13002 Marseille. Tel: (+33) 4 91 91 22 69

For seafood straight from the fishmonger's slab (and not a can in sight): La Boîte à Sardine, 7 boulevard de la Libération, 13001 Marseille. Tel: (+33) 4 91 50 95 95

For keenly priced gourmet dining at Marseille-Provence airport: Chefs en Provence, Upper Level, Terminal 1, Marseille-Provence airport, Marignane 13700. Tel: (+33) 4 42 14 21 79

For the only Michelin three-star restaurant in Marseille: Le petit Nice, Anse de Maldormé, Corniche JF Kennedy, 13007 Marseille. Tel: (+33) 4 91 59 25 92.

For stunning views over the Old Port: Le Chalet, Le Jardin de Pharo, 13007 Marseille. Tel: (+33) 4 91 52 80 11.

For 1950s retro-chic in a super-stylish modernist setting: Le Ventre de L'Architecte, The Radiant City, 3rd Floor, 280 boulevard Michelet, 13008 Marseille. Tel: (+33) 4 91 16 78 23.

For ambitious cuisine on the Old Port: Une Table, au Sud, 2 quai du Port, 13002 Marseille. Tel: (+33) 4 91 90 63 53.

For matchlessly fresh fish in a spectacular, remote setting: La Baie des Singes, Cap Croisette, Les Goudes, Marseilles 13008. Tel: (+33) 4 91 73 68 87.

And the top eateries on our wish list...

So many restaurants, so little time! We're doing our very best to munch our way tirelessly on your behalf through Marseille's restaurant scene, but there are always more addresses to try.

Here are some much talked-about spots we haven't got round to yet but still wanted to let you know about. We'll keep you posted just as soon as we've had the chance to test them.

Madame Jeanne, 86 rue Grignan, 13001 Marseille. Highly regarded new(-ish) bistro bang in the city centre.

La Mercerie, 9 Cours Saint Louis, 13001 Marseille. New venture by the hip Anglo-Canadian team behind Paris Pop-up and Arles' Le Chardon.

Schilling, 37 rue Caisserie, 13002 Marseille. A little fish restaurant between the Old Port and the Old Town - with a Scottish chef.

Bistro du Cours, 13 Cours Julien, 13006 Marseille. Acclaimed traditional bistro serving locavore (locally sourced) food.

La Cantinetta, 24 cours Julien, 13006 Marseille. Italian-style eats in a hyper-fashionable gathering place.

Le Goût des Choses, 4 place Notre Dame du Mont. 13006 Marseille. Also in the Cours Julien district, a bistro boasting international fusion cuisine.

Chez Fonfon, 140 Vallon des Auffes, 13007 Marseille. For a boat trip followed by bouillabaisse in the beautiful Vallon des Auffes.

Plus some insider tips for great fast eats...

Burgers: Forget the big chains and head for the little, independent Burger's Banquet, 9, rue Molière, 13001 Marseille, right by the Opéra de Marseille.

Bagels: Dunk, 2 rue Saint-Thomé, 13002 Marseille. This Canadian-run café is on the edge of the Panier near the MuCEM.

Pizza: Chez Etienne, 43 rue Lorette, 13002 Marseille is a quirky, old-established Marseille institution, also in the Panier. Or try La Bonne Mère, 16 rue Fort du Sanctuaire, 13006 Marseille. As the name suggests, it's up the hill by Notre Dame de la Garde and some say it serves the best pizza in Marseille.


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