Restaurants at the End of the Universe

La Baie des Singes 04 91 73 68 87
Chez Aldo 04 9173 31 55

Where do you end up when you run out of road in Marseille?

One minute you’re admiring David’s statuesque presence, and then, half an hour later you’re still driving eastwards following the coast, well past Pointe Rouge and through Les Goudes - until the tarmac runs out at La Croisette. The landscape is lunarly white, craggy and deserted, running down to the clearest, purest, saphire sea.

Put on your walking shoes.

About 1/2 kilometre up and down a narrow, winding rocky path leads you to the Baie des Singes — an unpretentious restaurant utterly isolated from the rest of the world, with superb views across the waves to the deserted island opposite. It’s a great adventure, and a beautiful, unique spot.

The building looks a bit like a seaside snackbar: the menu is simple and you eat at plastic tables — in fact the two poshest spots are the ‘solarium’ (you can hire sunbeds for an afternoon siesta) and the not-to-be-missed ‘grotto-loo’. We ate delicious seafood salads and succulent grilled fish, and drank Cassis wine and ended up paying a pretty steep 50 euros a head — but you could get away with a lot less. Having said that, no-one begrudged the price — it was such a fabulous place. Booking is essential. If you go in the evening, get there in time for the sunset, and take a torch for the return journey to the car. NB: closed from the end of September until April 1st.

Just under 2 k’s nearer Marseille lies the higgledy-piggledy fishing port of La Madrague, where for many years we’ve enjoyed the food at Chez Aldo’s, on the tiny port. Recently it’s got rather smarter, but, this summer, I still trusted it to serve some friends of mine a genuinely “honest” bouillabaisse. They really have some of the freshest fish in Marseille, straight off the fishing boats moored outside.

Our pre-booked bouillabaisse, marinaded in mountains of saffron, garlic, olive oil and fennel, (€35 a head — cheap at Marseille prices) was superb — but I’d also really recommend the delicious, cheaper Marmite Pêcheur, as well. There’s plenty of choice on the menu, they also serve terrific pizzas.

This excellent, friendly place, justly popular with Marseillais in the know, is open all year, and well worth the trip “out of town”. Parking, on the other hand, is atrocious.

Juliet Young

Copyright © 2005 Anglo-American Group of Provence