on eating well along the corniche of marseille, or on the edge of the ledge of jfk
La Corniche Kennedy of Marseille is a beautiful route along the coast of Marseille. In English the Ledge of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, a long boulevard, goes from the beach at Catalans to the beaches of Prado.
One can reach the Corniche in many ways. It is easy to walk from the Vieux Port; it might take 20 to 30 minutes without pauses for photographs or stopping at Le Pharo. Alternatively from the Vieux Port, one can take a number of buses, the best being #83, which will take you all the way along the coast, the full length of the Corniche, until it turns inland toward the Prado at La Plage.
If it is close enough to walk, bicycles and e-scooters will take you there as well. Tourist buses and a tourist train also make the trip.
Along the boulevard one will find a number of good restaurants. Le Petit Nice and Épuisette are Michelin star restaurants. Others that have excellent reputations are Le Rhul, Chez Michel, Peron, and Chez Fonfon. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)
One day I decided to eat lunch at Épuisette. From the vantage point before descending from the Corniche to the restaurant, I looked out to Chateau d’If, which inspired Le Comte de Monte-Cristo. I turned in the other direction and looked up to Notre-Dame de la Garde, the large basilica on the hill that overlooks Marseille.
From inside Épuisette, the Château d’If can be seen and beyond it, the Frioul archipelago. A small inlet is just outside the restaurant and it leads into a small port, the Vallon des Auffes. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)
I chose the seven course meal called “Menu Fanny.” The meal should be experienced with the three senses: sight (Does it look gorgeous, like a work of art, in its presentation?), smell (Is there something distinctive about the odor?), and lastly the taste (Have you ever ever tasted a dish so astonishing, surpenant?). (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)
Often, I must admit, I find the entrées more interesting than the main courses. It is there where I might experience the most surprises during the meal. All of the courses were surprising and a joy to eat.
One course had a “fish stick” and a small container of aioli sauce for dipping. Another was quite astonishing; it was a stuffed flowered zucchini.
The first several tasting entrées are followed with a fish course and then a meat course, typically in that order. I have never experienced it any other way. These courses will often have delicacies or are rarely served. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)
For the fish I was served a chapon, or rascasse, a bottom feeding fish. The rascasse is a key ingrediant in the bouillabaisse, an expensive fish stew found in a few restaurants in Marseille.
For the meat course, I was served a pigeon. That is rare indeed. I believe I received the entire bird.
Finally, at the end it will be the cheese and dessert courses. A word of caution, the cheese course is extra. If you want it, you pay beyond the prix fixe that you agreed to at the start of the meal. No one will tell you, unless you ask. The cheese is offered from a cart that is wheeled to your table, and you tell the waiter what you want and how much. Normally, there will be a selection of goat, sheep, and cow cheeses. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail. Cliquez sur une vignette pour l’agrandir.)
This day I was served two desserts: one was fresh raspberries, and the second was a sorbet and a mousse au chocolat.
I rarely hear bon appétit from the waiters. I will hear bonne dégustation.