by Liz Fleming
When in Marseille, you must stay in the old port district - it's as simple as that. That's where it's all happening - great restaurants, the charming Panier district, nightlife, the best gelato, tour boats to the Frioul islands, the Chateau d'if and the Calanques (stunning island rock formations) in the nearby national park, the finest restaurant for Bouillabaisse (the Miramar)...it's all in the old port. And when you stay in that old port district, the hotel to choose is the Grand Hotel Beauvau.
Open since 1816, the Grand Hotel Beauvau was the first hotel in the Phoenician city and has been the choice of luxury-loving guests ever since. Its 73 rooms are gracious and inviting, featuring silken bed linens and beautiful furnishings in empire or Napoleon III style, lovingly collected over the years from the markets of Provence - but the real attraction is the sense of Mediterranean warmth that comes from the colour that surrounds you. Draperies, upholstery and bed coverings in shades of soft yellow, tangerine and green create the feeling of a sunbathed garden and the sun streaming in your windows completes the picture.
Though enjoying a quiet drink in the hotel bar, catching up on the international newspapers thoughtfully provided, then tucking yourself into your luxe bed at night is a pleasure, the real treat is breakfast each morning. Get there early enough and you'll be able to find a spot at one of the round window tables that overlook the port. While you enjoy fresh baked croissants and cafe au lait - all delivered by servers who'll charmingly forgive your terrible French accent and offer impeccable service anyway - you can watch the transactions taking place at the early morning fish market and the lazy spinning of the giant waterfront Ferris wheel.
Regardless of how busy the rest of your schedule might be, watching the morning sun glittering on the bay of Marseille is a glorious start to any day in France.
Originally published in Cruise & Travel Lifestyles Spring/Summer 2017 issue.