Posts Tagged ‘panisse’

You lucky people in Provence with all that sun. Send some to Angleterre! If I were in Aix this week, I would be tempted to head down to Marseille and take the new navette/batobus service to l’Estaque. It’s a 40 minute trip from the Vieux Port; it runs hourly, half past each hour. At 3€ each way, it’s a real bargain. You get a little boat trip which provides fabulous views of the city and all the big boats coming in and out of the docks.

L’Estaque must have been a tranquil port and village during the last century; now there is a lot of traffic and the sea views are compromised by boats and maritime buildings. However there is a walking trail to lead you round the old parts of the town and then out along the jetty to look back at the hillside. Panels show you what the view would have been like when Cézanne lived there, hiding his mistress and baby son from the gimlet eye of his Papa. The other good thing to do in l’Estaque is to treat

Kiosk selling panisse in L'Estaque

Kiosk selling panisse in L’Estaque

yourself to panisse which is a very local speciality. It’s a sausage-shaped chick-pea roll which is sliced, fried in olive oil and then doused in salt. I’m sure it’s really bad for you but it is delicious. Isn’t this always the case? (You can now buy panisse in Aix in Monop, Casino St Jérome and La Vie en Claire).

Back in Marseille, there is a new exhibition of photography ‘Marseille Vu Par 100 Photographes du Monde’ which is running until 10th August. Looks good. Details on http://www.mp2013.fr/evenements/2013/04/marseille-vue-par-100-photographes-du-monde/

If you want to visit the Panier without walking too far, the second circuit for the petit-train is now operational. It chugs up through all the narrow streets of this atmospheric part of town and gives you a half-hour stop up at the top to browse around the shops and cafés. Full details on http://www.petit-train-marseille.com.

One of my favourite pursuits in Marseille is to visit the daily street market which clusters around the Noailles metro. I just love it. You can spend happy hours rooting around the little shops full of goodies from all around the Mediterranean. This pottery IMG_4738shop is so bargainous. The hand-painted dishes from Tunisia are perfect for tagine and under 4€ each….though carting (schepping for you Americans!) a set of 8 back to the Aix navette is heavy work. I always gravitate to the spice shops and investIMG_4741 in lots of little bags of colourful cumin, ground coriander and ras-el-hanout. In fact I have brought some back with me to fill my chilly English kitchen with some southern sunshine and aromas of the Mediterranean. I can dream….

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A world away from the noisy travaux which are turning the Vieux Port roads into a pedestrianised zone, the Panier, Marseille’s oldest quartier is quietly blossoming with creative talent.

The stone steps leading visitors up between the ancient narrow buildings are worn and shiny in the spring sun. Children spill out on to doorsteps and washing dries in the warm air.

 Opposite the Vieille Charité where the Hundertwasser exhibition attracted over 4,000 people in its first 3 days of opening (see separate post), there is a square which is attracting more and more small cafés and informal restos; it’s a great place to try that Marseille speciality panisse – a deep-fried chick-pea burger. 

Le Panier Gourmand adds them to most of the lunch dishes – I tried them with a provençale salad and a welcome glass of red wine.  Served with lots of fresh bread and followed by coffee, it came to around 15€.

Elsewhere there are little pottery shops run by local artists, a savonnerie, and a shop selling soaps and promotional ephemera from the industry which was such a wealth-generator for Marseille for centuries.  It’s a wonderful area to sit in the sun, enjoy, explore and drink in the atmosphere. It really is like nowhere else.  The tourist office have maps and there is a petit-train to take the elderly or the little ones up all those steep streets.  Whichever way you get there, it’s a step out of time and worth discovering.


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