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Cities of France - Marseille

I think this quote from a travel book sums it up .. "Marseille is like the bouillabaisse soup for which it is famous: steaming hot and pungently spiced, with a little bit of everything mixed in."

Nestled between sea and hills, Marseille is France's largest city on the Mediterranean coast, the capital of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region, as well as the capital of the Bouches-du-Rhône department.

The oldest city in France, its beginnings date back to 600 BC when the Phocean Greeks sought shelter in the port. Legend has it that the fleet's leader stumbled upon a ceremony where the local king's daughter had to choose a husband. Before he knew it, the unsuspecting Greek was chosen and the port of Massalia (later renamed Marseille) was the couple's wedding present!

Ever since, the port has been the central focus of the city and one of the main gateways into France. This bustling port has attracted many immigrants and made Marseille a cosmopolitan melting pot.

Combining the richness of a unique heritage and an intense cultural life with an exceptional location, Marseille is one of the most visited cities in France, with 4.1 million visitors in 2012.

The city's main thoroughfare, the wide boulevard of Canebière (affectionately known to English sailors as "can 'o beer"), stretches from the Old Port (Vieux Port) to the Réformés quarter. Two large forts flank the entrance to the Old Port—Fort Saint-Nicolas on the south side and Fort Saint-Jean on the north. Further out in the Bay of Marseille are the four islands of the Frioul archipelago. On one of these islands is the Château d'If, made famous by the novel The Count of Monte Cristo.

Marseille has been designated as European Capital of Culture in 2013. With 26 centuries of history to share, the city features over twenty museums covering all historical periods, from ancient to contemporary art, archaeology to Fine Arts and from tiles to motorbikes.

Home to many theatres and cinemas as well as a busy live music and nightclub scene, Marseille is a vibrant cultural and entertainment hub. It has been the birthplace and home of many French writers and poets. The small port of l'Estaque on the far end of the Bay of Marseille was a favourite haunt for artists, including Renoir and Cézanne (who frequently visited from his home in Aix).

With such a melange of cultural influences, eating in Marseille is a gastronomical delight. Here are just some of the specialties:

Bouillabaisse is the most famous seafood dish of Marseille - a fish stew containing at least three varieties of very fresh local fish as well as shellfish and other seafood such as sea urchins, mussels, velvet crabs, spider crabs plus plus potatoes and vegetables. The broth is served with rouille, a mayonaisse made with egg yolk, olive oil, red pepper, saffron, and garlic, spread on pieces of toasted bread, or croûtes. Some versions also add grated cheese.

Pistou is a combination of crushed fresh basil and garlic with olive oil, similar to the Italian pesto. Soup au pistou combines pistou in a broth with pasta and vegetables.

Pastis, an alcoholic beverage made with aniseed and spice, is extremely popular in the region

Fougasse, is a flat Provençal bread, similar to the Italian focaccia. traditionally baked in a wood oven and sometimes filled with olives, cheese or anchovies.

Aïoli, a sauce made from raw garlic, lemon juice, eggs and olive oil, served with boiled fish, hard boiled eggs and cooked vegetables

Tapenade, a paste made from capers, chopped olives, olive oil and sometimes anchovies

Anchoïade, a paste made from anchovies, garlic, black olives and olive oil, served with raw vegetables

Panisse, a pastry made from chickpea flour

Navette, a small hard biscuit in the shape of a boat, flavoured with orange blossom.

Bourride, a fish dish made with monkfish, mayonnaise and a vegetable brunoise.

Pieds paquets, a dish prepared from pig's trotters, sheep or pork tripe and lard


See our full range of authentic Savon de Marseille soaps in our online shop by clicking here.