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open mind, empty stomach

travel, food, and fun

The south of France is one place that has been on my “must go” list. I took a few days to get a taste of the region before resuming WWOOFing. I Couchsurfed with a host that lived about a half hour train ride from Marseille, just outside of Aix en Provence. The only eventful thing I did around her house was attend the saturday morning market, which was really nice. I scored venison, boar, herb, and pepper salamis, 3 types of chevre, and some really nice bread (all local and direct from farmers).
My host, Diane, let me know that I could not leave Marseille without visiting “les callanques” They are a series of limestone mountains on the sea that have small bays between them. She was right, the callanques were beautiful.
Marseille is famous for being the home of bouillabaisse and aioli. I did my usual thorough research and found the best place in town, which in this case means the world, for bouillabaisse: Chez Fonfon. The only problem was that it was a Saturday night, they were booked, closed on Sunday, and I would be leaving on Monday. I wasn’t leaving Marseille without having bouillabaisse and I don’t settle for second best. I got an order of Marseille magic to go. Fonfon is located right on the water and I planned on eating my very expensive takeaway on the dock in front of the restaurant. The problem this time was that there was no silverware in the bag with the food. An establishment of this caliber does not typically do takeaway and did not have plastic cutlery. I walked a couple miles to the train station, got plastic silverware at McDonald’s, and had my meal in their dining area before heading back to Diane’s. It was my first time eating at the franchise I loath the most in several years, but I made an exception given the circumstances. The bouillabaisse was incredible and worth all of the effort. In addition to the
signature red broth there were 5 types of fish, one of which was new to me. It was extremely fatty and oh, so good. My happy meal also included toasted bread with the best aioli I’ve ever had and another condiment that was spicy and I actually preferred over the aioli.
The other Marseille specialty is pieds et paquets, which is lamb feet and stuffed lamb intestine. Unfortunately, it is a seasonal delicacy and this was not the season. There are also a lot of ethnic eateries in Marseille, especially African. My only regret for the city is not trying one of these places.
I didn’t spend much time in Marseille and there is a whole lot more to see, do, and eat in France’s second city. Due to the brevity of my stay, I can’t offer a fair evaluation of Marseille. I enjoyed the time I spent there and wouldn’t mind going back in the future.

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