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Shopping in Marseille

As the second largest city in France, Marseille offers some of the best shopping opportunities outside of Paris. And as with so much about the destination, diversity is everything – two minutes’ walk can take you from Dior cosmetics counters to spice-laden backstreets.

Key areas

The main shopping streets in Marseille, the rue Paradis, rue Saint Ferréol and rue de Rome, run off the Canebière, just to the north of the main tourist office.

Popular items to bring back home include soap (the famous savon de Marseille) and santons (carved wooden or clay crèche figurines) - in December, you will be able to buy some at the Marché aux Santons on the Canebière. The Ateliers Marcel Carbonel, 47 rue Neuve-Ste-Catherine, 7e, offer the widest choice of santons in town, as well as pastis (Marseille's famous tipple), garlic (a key ingredient in Provençal cooking), and Provençal fabric and pottery.

La Maison du Pastis, 108 quai du Port, 2e, has the greatest selection of pastis in town (over 90, including a few homemade ones) and is well worth a visit. Le Four des Navettes, 136 rue Sainte, 7e, is where to head for navettes, delicious orange-blossom-flavoured biscuits shaped like boats.

Markets

There are several markets in Marseille. One not to miss is the fish market (daily 0730-1230) on the quai des Belges at the Vieux Port: a real spectacle as local fishermen compete with one another to sell the catch of the day to passers-by. Fresh fish have been sold from the same spot for centuries.

For something completely different, try ‘les Puces' (the flea market), 130 chemin de la Madrague Ville, 15e, an absorbing cross between a north African bazaar and a car boot sale, one of the liveliest places to lose yourself on a Saturday or Sunday morning (open Tuesday to Saturday 0800-1200 and 1400-1800, Sunday 0830-1300).

Shopping centres

The Centre Bourse, just behind the Old Port, has an upmarket shopping mall above the underground car park. It looks a bit sombre from the outside, but the interior is fully laden with various kinds of designer-label goods – fashion, and health and beauty being the two dominant themes – and the central location makes it the most easily accessible option of its kind in the city. There are some 60 shops spread over its three floors, many of which can’t be found elsewhere in Marseille.

Opening hours

Shops are open Monday to Saturday 0800-1200 and 1400-1900, although some remain open at lunchtime. Most shops are closed on Sunday.

Souvenirs

A city of this scale doesn’t come with many restrictions on the souvenir front, and there’s no shortage of variety whether you’re after gift-wrapped bonbons, African masks, chunky fisherman sweaters or Provençal artwork. It’s wise to do a bit of window-shopping before making a major purchase – prices and quality can vary. Those buying gifts for football-mad friends and family will find two official Olympique de Marseille merchandise boutiques in the heart of town.

Tax information

Sales tax varies from 5.5% (food) to 19.6% (luxury goods).

Featured Hotels

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Sofitel Marseille Vieux Port

Between the rocky headland of the Pharo and Fort St Nicolas, the indulgent Sofitel Marseille Vieux Port offers a near-unbeatable panoramic view of Marseille. The hotel has a swimming pool, eight meeting rooms (the largest of which can accommodate up to 130 people), a cocktail bar, a gastronomic restaurant and a spa.

InterContinental Marseille Hotel Dieu

Sitting imperiously over the Vieux Port from its perch near Le Panier, this 18th-century former Hotel Dieu is one of Marseille's most luxurious hotels. Most of the sleek, comfortable rooms have views of the Vieux Port, and many have balconies. There's also a renowned restaurant and a Clarins spa with an indoor pool.

Hotel Pullman Marseille Palm Beach

Located by the sea between the Vieux Port and the Convention Centre, the Hotel Pullman Marseille Palm Beach offers a unique view of the Prado Bay. It has stylish, contemporary rooms and suites, all with sea views. There's also a swimming pool, sauna, hot tub, jogging course and landing stage.

Le Petit Nice Passédat

This exquisite 19th-century villa in Hellenic style is set in lush gardens on a rocky promontory overlooking the Mediterranean. There is no denying that it's pricey, but the rooms are exceedingly comfortable and beautifully decorated, the service top notch, and the restaurant one of the best in town. The views are fabulous too.

Le Corbusier

Architecture buffs will relish the opportunity to stay at this hotel located within Le Corbusier's post-war vision of the future: the Cité Radieuse. While many of the hotel's 21 rooms are on the small side, they are comfy enough, and the rooftop garden offers seascapes to die for.

Grand Hotel Beauvau Marseille Vieux Port

Overlooking the Vieux Port, this is one of the oldest hotels in Marseille, established in 1860. Many famous writers have stayed here, including George Sand (who eloped here with Chopin in 1839). Its air-conditioned, soundproofed rooms feature Provençal-style furniture, and many come with balconies and views of the port.