Food and Shopping Walk (Self Guided), Marseille

Shopping in Marseille is a great way to mingle with the locals and immerse in new tastes, scents and customs. As with so much else in this melting-pot of a city, the top-of-the-range stores here rub shoulders with the funky little boutiques, high-street chains with scruffy discount outlets or traditional family groceries and bakeries.

Marseille doesn't have a flagship thoroughfare as such, yet its closest equivalent – Rue Paradis (although without quite the same cachet as, for instance, Rue du Faubourg Saint Honoré in Paris) – is where the luxury brands sit, making it a local mecca for high-end shopping.

While the shopping scene in Marseille changes fast, the Old Port, situated at the foot of La Canebière, has been the beating heart of the city for ages. The northern seafront strip between the Old Port and the cruise ship terminals has been intensively developed as a retail commerce area lately.

The nearby souvenir stores specialize in typical Marseille gifts – essential soap and delicious olive oil. The richest varieties of these are found in Place aux Huiles.

And if you're a fashionista, head to Rue St. Ferréol. This pedestrian street, affectionately nicknamed "St Fé", is very popular with shopaholics. Together with La Canebière, it marks out the famous golden shopping triangle, replete with top fashion labels, jewelry, trendy designs and leisure items.

Other than the store-filled streets, another best shopping destination are Marseille's markets. Marché aux Poissons, in particular, is a true local thing – small yet vibrant. Here you can buy the catch of the day, fresh off the boat, and have it cleaned for you while you wait.

To plan your shopping spree for a chance to buy that perfect gift – be it haute couture, arts and crafts, food and drink, or something else – check out our self-guided walk.
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Food and Shopping Walk Map

Guide Name: Food and Shopping Walk
Guide Location: France » Marseille (See other walking tours in Marseille)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 5
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.8 Km or 1.1 Miles
Author: kane
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Marché aux Poissons (Fish Market)
  • Place aux Huiles (Olive Oil Square)
  • Rue Paradis (Paradise Street)
  • Rue St. Ferréol (St. Ferréol Street)
  • La Canebiere (Canebiere Avenue)
1
Marché aux Poissons (Fish Market)

1) Marché aux Poissons (Fish Market)

All night the boats are outside the breakwater, at sea. Local, family-owned, every night they are busy. At dawn they begin arriving at the Old Port of Marseille. They are headed for the Marche aux Poissons, the Fish Market of the city on the Quai des Belges.

Only true, local fisherfolk are allowed to dock here. This is a real, traditional fish market of the Mediterranean. The boats tie up at the foot of the quai and unload their nightly catch. The boats and the stalls where the fish are prepared and sold are family operated.

The market is open to buyers, mostly local people and restauranteurs. The stalls are loaded with the "catch of the day". There are perhaps ten or twelve stalls. They each have tanks where the fish are shown. Besides fish there are mussels, oysters and octopus.

The market opens at 8am. To get the best fish of the catch, come early. By 1:30 pm the market is closed. There are a lot of restaurants overlooking the market. It is very probable that the fish you dine on in the evening was part of the daily catch that morning. Try the bouillabaisse, a delicacy of Provence.

Marseille has always been a fishing port and there are a lot of fish in the sea. However, there are fewer and fewer markets in the world like the Fish Market of Marseille. The market was formerly established in the Old Port in 1909. Get there early. Sample the wild oysters while you wait for your order.

Opening hours: 8 am - 1:30 pm.
2
Place aux Huiles (Olive Oil Square)

2) Place aux Huiles (Olive Oil Square)

The Olive Oil Square lives up to its name, It is a great place for olive oil. You can sample every kind of olive oil, some are flavored with a variety of herbs. Just dip a piece of bread into the oil you fancy and enjoy. If you like it, you can buy it. It will be bottled especially for you.

The square is located on the west bank of the old canal de la Douane (the Customs canal). In the time of the kings of France the canal enabled galleys to access the arsenals, a military facility. After the military left, the canal was reserved for commercial use.

Barrels of olive oil were shipped up and down the canal. That's how the square got its name. The canal was filled in between 1927 and 1929. A big canal, it took a lot of filling. Today the plaza is used mostly by factories along the rue Sainte and the old arsenals have been turned into cafes, galleries and shops, including of course olive oil dispensaries.
3
Rue Paradis (Paradise Street)

3) Rue Paradis (Paradise Street)

Yes, it is well named. Shoppers will think they have died and gone to heaven, shoppers' heaven, that is. Rue Paradis (Paradise Street) is located between the squares of Estrangin and General de Gaulle on the way to La Canebiere. In the 15th century the street name was changed to rue Paradis, as it held the parish of St. Pierre de Paradis.

Rue Paradis, rue Rome and rue St. Ferreol are the three most famous shopping streets in Marseille. One may shop from the city center to the old Port, to the Canebiere and the markets. This shoppers' paradise street is the third longest street in Marseille. It crosses the first, sixth and eighth arrondissements of the city.

The street has had many changes since it was established around 1044. The first urbanization took place in 1666, during the reign of Louis XIV. In 2018 it had a major overhaul. Sidewalks were were widened, trees planted, parking and delivery areas created. All of this was done between the squares of Estrangin and General de Gaulle.
4
Rue St. Ferréol (St. Ferréol Street)

4) Rue St. Ferréol (St. Ferréol Street)

Ferreol, or Ferreolus of Uzes was the Bishop of Uzes and possibly of Nimes, France. This was quite awhile ago. He died in 581, CE. After he had passed, he became St. Ferreol. Among subsequent honors that may have been awarded him there is the Rue St. Ferreol in Marseille, France.

There, in one of the oldest cities in Europe, is a street famous for shopping, shopping of all kinds. Why name a commercial street after an ancient saint? Well, why not?

St Ferreol must have given his blessing to the street named after him. The place is thriving. It is all foot traffic there. Wander up and down the street. It is busy, and, like La Canebriere, a friendly shopping street. There are boutiques, galleries, including Galleries Lafayette, H&M, Seploc, Zara, Virgin and many others.

One can find the same chain stores as in Toronto, Rome, or New York, but everything one might be looking for is very likely here. The street is not super clean, but St Ferreol doesn't seem to mind.
5
La Canebiere (Canebiere Avenue)

5) La Canebiere (Canebiere Avenue)

La Canebiere is described as the high street of the Vieux Carre (Old Quarter) of Marseille. The name Canebiere is derived from the Latin word, "cannabis". Hemp was once grown in the fields around the Old Port. Marseille was one of the major producers of hemp in the world. From the middle ages until the 1930s it was High Street indeed!

In 1666 King Louis XIV expanded the city of Marseille and the avenue Canebiere was built. In the late 1700s the Grand Arsenal docks were taken down and the avenue was lengthened to the Old Port. The development of elegant buildings followed.

During the Third French Republic the street became the Olympus of high society, sporting luxury hotels, cafes, shops and boutiques. In 1928 the street was further extended from the Old Port to the Saint-Vincent-de-Paul Church. The church is sometimes referred to as the Reform Church. In May 2017 the Patriotic Ball was held on the Canebiere in celebration of the Liberation of France in 1945.

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