Five Places to Shop in Marseille

Posted July 17, 2018 5:27 p.m. EDT

Directly east of the central Vieux Port and its shiny Norman Foster-designed pavilion, the Noailles district is a decidedly grittier enclave with a large and diverse immigrant population. But hidden in plain sight among the women in headscarves perusing the outdoor produce stalls of the Marché des Capucins, fragrant with peaches and green melon, are some of the country’s oldest specialty stores. Lately, these shops have been joined by a crop of independent businesses, making Noailles a destination sure to appeal to gourmands and curio-seekers alike.

Épicerie L’Idéal

In this 2-year-old grocery store and restaurant, a smattering of tables are lined up against wooden shelves brimming with mostly French and Italian gourmet items such as pungent colatura sold in eyedropper bottles and jars of artichoke paté. Opened by Julia Sammut, a co-founder of the influential French guide Le Fooding, the spot features a short, daily-changing menu that incorporates seasonal produce with Sammut’s finds. A recent offering featured Maison David’s buttery soft, rosy pink Wagyu pastrami, and crisp cabbage slaw tucked into a semolina flatbread. 11 rue d’Aubagne;

Maison Empereur

Opened since 1827, the oldest hardware store in France is still the place to go for hard-to-find home-improvement tools like a buffalo-hide hammer. The original shop is now a sprawling emporium in which the seventh generation owner, Laurence Renaux Empereur, displays a mesmerizing range of goods. On a recent visit, racks of one-of-a-kind children’s frocks from the early 20th century and a rare Laguiole knife with a Siberian mammoth tusk handle could be found. A guest apartment opened above the shop in January 2017, in what had once been the Empereur family’s living quarters (doubles from 150 euros, or $176). 4 rue des Récolettes;

Pharmacie Herboristerie du Père Blaize

This medicinal herbal shop, established 203 years ago, stocks about 1,000 dried plants and spices, including loose leaves of medicinal plants like horsetail and stinging nettle, stored in glass-and-pine drawers. Also in the mix are large bouquets of culinary herbs such as lemon thyme and sage, essential oils and Père Blaize’s own line of herbal teas. 4-6 rue Méolan et du Père Blaize;

Toinou, Les Fruits de Mer

Antoine “Toinou” Carratu opened his first sidewalk seafood stalls in Noailles in 1962. Now his son, Laurent, runs the stalls as well as restaurants in Noailles and Aix-en-Provence. His business specializes in shellfish caught off the Mediterranean coast, including oysters from the Camargue and mussels from Bouzigues in southern France, although fruits de mer from farther shores, like Brittany lobsters, can also be found. Inside, there’s a no-frills tasting counter. 3 cours Saint-Louis;

Joli Rouge

This secondhand shop by a young art school graduate, Amélie Forestier, showcases a mishmash of items, including pretty, pastel-colored ceramic tiles salvaged from a defunct Noailles hotel and a midcentury wood-and-resin Danish ceiling lamp. In the back of the 3-year-old shop, organic wines from southern France are served on a 1960s Formica counter. 72 rue d’Aubagne; no website