Condé Nast Traveller Middle East - - Contents -

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



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, cu­tand­


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-mont­


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,


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, mai­


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, mas­sil­ia­graf­



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

0229, em­

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

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