TRAVEL IN STYLE
Once mad, bad and dangereux to know, Marseille has a new craving for refinement and eclectic shopping; glimmer through the airport with slick metallic cases in trendy hues; wash up on shore in style with an ethereal timepiece; diamond-laced baubles that are as sweet as they are pretty; LaLa Queen handbags founder Sally Sarieddine packs for a well-being escape in India; a modern duffel bag that throws back to travel’s golden era; a line-up of spicy beauty products.
Once mad, bad and dangereux to know, the tough-talking port city now has a new craving for refinement, with a flurry of museums and a repurposed waterfront
The eclectic Cut & Mix boutique.
Opposite: The promenade next
to the Museum of European and Mediterranean
BOOKS & RECORDS
Marseille is sometimes referred to as France’s second city. This is the sort of sniffy thing only a statistician would say, and most likely a Parisian statistician at that. Population-wise it may be true, but in plenty of other respects Marseille punches above its weight. For instance, in concept stores per capita (though we might need a statistician to confirm that). The city is crammed with eclectic emporia such as Good Design Store and Atelier 159. Cut & Mix, on the effortlessly hip rue Sainte, is a classic, where the cuts and mixes come in different kinds: you can get a haircut or a coffee, take in an exhibition, or shop for soul, funk and jazz records as well as books on music, design, art and film, all under one roof.
Vinyl from AED 103; 0033-491-35 2994, cutandmix.fr
ACCESSORIES & HOMEWARE
Jardin Montgrand is around the corner from Cut & Mix, but it might as well be on another planet. Spick and span and spacious, it represents more than two dozen brands, many local, in a 19th-century townhouse, Maison Montgrand, with a café, courtyard restaurant and adjacent hotel. The layout of the building imparts its own order with each label given a more or less discrete space, so that you find yourself passing randomly from women’s fashion to jewellery and accessories to beauty products, much as you would from Old Masters to cubism to abstract expressionism in a gallery. Of special note: the pastries by Bricoleurs de Douceurs (try the 70 per cent cocoa Choco Dépendance tart) and the swimwear by Bayahibe (the flamingo print above all). Just go easy on the former if you want to look your best in the latter. Swimwear from AED 193; 0033-491-00 3521, jardin-montgrand.com
Cozete was Charlotte Bevilacqua’s nickname when she was a kid. Happily, she appears to have enjoyed a somewhat less bumpy journey through life than Victor Hugo’s similarly named Misérables, if the light, summery, cheerfully unstructured womenswear she designs and sells in her boutique is anything to go by. Charlotte hosts regular soirées on the premises, because, as she quite sensibly observes, “It’s nicer to drink in a shop than it is to try on a dress in a bar.”
Clothes from AED 322; 0033-491-57 0395, cozete.com
Possibly the most on-trend shop in the city opened more than 200 years ago, in 1815, in a picturesque alley in the Noailles neighbourhood, a couple of streets back from the Old Port. Père Blaize is still a herbal dispensary – an organic pharmacy, we might say today – and it still looks much as it always did, ministering to the needs of its customers according to the same plant-based principles, its elegant shelves stocked with balms, oils and elixirs, its drawers still full of spices, tisanes and purgatifs. Simply knowing that it exists is something of a tonic; stepping inside and taking a few deep breaths of the delicious scented air is enough to make anyone feel better.
Essential oils from AED 14 for 10ml; 0033-491-54 0401, pereblaize.dr
Versions of the great game of boules have existed since humankind starting chucking one object at another in a manly spirit of competition. But Provence is its spiritual home. Boules is not merely an inescapable feature of Provençal life but perhaps even a metaphor for it – its beauty is its simplicity. Maison de la Boule, whose blue doors open on to a lovely courtyard in the Panier district, has all the essentials (storage bags; indoor and outdoor balls; mini balls for kids; inexpensive balls for novices; madly expensive balls for experts), plus non-essentials (chocolate balls for the less athletically inclined). There’s even a little boulodrome, a sandpit where you can weigh up your options before making a purchase.
Balls from AED 472; 0033-488-44 3944, maison-de-la-boule.com
There’s an awful lot of graffiti in Marseille – but you couldn’t really say the city’s got a graffiti problem, because so much of it is so good. Up-and-coming Cours Julien is ground zero of the aerosol explosion and you will find Piece Makers’ shop, Massilia Graffiti, in a suitably well-tagged street. Along with graffitiembellished baseball caps and lampshades you’ve got the option to commission more substantial one-off pieces (a canvas; a larger, possibly less portable mural; a multi-storey façade). And if what you’ve seen of le graff on your peregrinations has made you want to get your hands dirty, they run classes for would-be street artists aged seven and up.
Customised items price on request; 0033-65131 1781, massiliagraffiti.com
“CHARLOTTE HOSTS REGULAR SOIRÉES BECAUSE, AS SHE QUITE SENSIBLY OBSERVES: IT’S NICER TO DRINK IN A SHOP THAN IT IS TO TRY ON A DRESS IN A BAR”
Maison Empereur is quite possibly the most charming department store on earth. Though to call it a department store is like calling Chartres cathedral a parish church. It’s an institution – creaky, family-owned since
1827, totally unnavigable – where you’ll find everything from children’s toys, doorknobs and carving knives to watering cans, fly traps and leather bags. So much more than the sum of its parts, though there’s no shortage of parts. Leather bags from AED 173; 0033-491-51
Clockwise from top left: Père Blaize herbal dispensary; Bricoleurs de Doucers pastries at Jardin Montgrand; Peace Makers’ street art; Atelier 159, one of Marseille’s eclectic shops