The city's landmark hotel has its feet in the sea, its mind on fine living and finer food.
Sitting on the terrace of Le Petit Nice, sea swishing just beyond the balustrade, you’re as close to serenity as is possible in Marseille. It’s more serene still if you’ve taken the sensible option and ordered a bottle of Champagne.
This really is a glorious spot. You’d never guess that you were in Europe’s main Mediterranean port. Perched peacefully on corniche rocks round the corner from the city centre, the place comprises two classical villas pristine white against the blues of sky and sea, the greens of crowding trees and plants. They have the Med at their feet, the Frioul islands on the horizon and the light gleam of luxurious decadence throughout. If Sirens still existed, this is where they’d stay.
Yet, for all its swish, the hotel retains a familiar, family feel. This is not surprising. The Passédat family has been here since 1917. Renewal a couple of years ago has left the 16 rooms and suites looking light and nicely contemporary, with blond woods and much beige.
The Gaby room, which I recommend, comes over with ochre pinks and browns and a terribly modern four-poster. Meanwhile, the Alcazar suite resembles a loft apartment for the brighter sort of interior designer, and the Fanny junior suite boasts a terrace the size of a small ship’s deck.
The touch is assured – and never so heavy as to detract from the real splendour, which is the sea view beyond. The briny is better appreciated still from the terrace, with its small pool, abundant horticulture and aspirations to be a bridgehead. An aperitif out here isn’t so much a drink as an exercise in voluptuousness.
Good preparation, therefore, for dinner. Oh dear me, dinner. Passédat’s eating is fabulous. In truth, the place is better known as a restaurant than as a hotel. It bagged its third Michelin star in 2008. But it comes at a hell of a price. I can’t pay €170 for dinner (sans drinks) without thinking that that’s a weeks shopping for a family of six. You may be different. If so, bon appétit. You’ll love it.
If not, dine elsewhere - but return to the hotel for a final drink on the terrace. With moonlight on the water and enchantment all around, this is the perfect time and place to propose to the loved one. If she refuses in this setting, save up and come back next year with someone else. It's bound to work eventually.
Like this hotel? Then check for availability and deals below.
Not interested? See [node:129623] and [node:129801] for more expert recommendations.