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“A storm at sea meant no bouillabaisse for us”

Restaurant Chez Michel
Ranked #36 of 2,222 Restaurants in Marseille
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $67 - $148
Cuisines: French, Mediterranean
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Restaurant details
Good for: Local cuisine, Special occasions
Dining options: Dinner, Lunch, Late Night, Reservations
Reviewed January 5, 2014

This is a review of a restaurant we didn't eat in but the story is worth telling in case others have the same experience. We wanted to try bouillabaisse during our visit to Marseille and had booked Chez Michel through our hotel for dinner on our last night. When we got there, however, the restaurant was completely empty. The proprietor explained (in helpfully slow and clear French) that there had been a storm that day and therefore no fish delivered (or rather not the right fish for bouillabaisse). As this is a one dish restaurant that meant no dinner for us. It seems odd giving three stars to a restaurant we didn't eat in but I give them for the proprietor's honesty and commitment to authentic bouillabaisse - he could easily palmed us off with other fish. However, there is a warning here - if you are planning to go here it might be worth phoning ahead to check that they have the right fish.

3  Thank Susan8552
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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84 - 88 of 811 reviews

Reviewed November 30, 2013

Quality of Food: excellent
Location: very nice: close to beach Catalans, but not close to Metro
service: excellent (especially for French standards). Owner is following up personally with all guests
Price: quite expensive (2 people 220 Euro incl 1 bottle of wine) but worth the quality
With whom you should go: high class date, family, quite 'old' - nothing for meeting with friends casually

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1  Thank Doreen111-13
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 13, 2013

My first time, surprisingly, in Marseille, and I had to find the best bouillabaisse. I'd read an article in "The Guardian" listing Chez Michel among the top 10 restaurants in Marseille, and when we got to town, several local friends, independently, said, hands down, that we'd find IT at Chez Michel.

And, in the words of the Jean Sablon song, "Ah, que c'est bon, La Bouillabaisse!"

We went at lunchtime on a weekday, and the place was relaxed, bright and open. As you enter, there's a boat filled with ice (see accompanying photo), on which there are platters of the fishes (3, if I remember correctly, in the typical bouillabaisse). Behind the boat, on the wall, are photos of dignitaries-- I recognized Maurice Chevalier, Alain Delon, Mireille Darc, and Marcello Mastroianni-- with the late Michel.

Later, once you've ordered, they'll parade the platter of fish in front of you so you can see THE fish that will go into your soup.

Lunchtime, at least, was pretty relaxed and there were some waiters who wore uniforms or suits, while others were in shirt sleeves or even a striped sailor's shirt. We wore street clothes and felt perfectly comfortable.

What I hadn't known before, and about which the host and server were happy to instruct me, was the ritual of eating a proper bouillabaisse. The soup itself is served separately from the fish and vegetables, accompanied by the rouille, and aioli, with a platter of croutons. When the dish was ready, 2 waiters filleted the fish at a table on the side of ours, and served it.

And boy, was this meal good-- hearty and satisfying.

The meal was quite an education and memorable.

For 3 adults, with wine and bottled water, it came to (in October 2013) 266 Euros, which was $360.96.

Expensive, yes, but we will go back the next time we're in Marseille.

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3  Thank Godenar
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 21, 2013

according to our kind hosts, this was as authentic as it could ever get. truth be told, the decor was a little chintzy so it didn't start off very well for us but we trusted our friends. my last experience with a bouillabaisse was a decade ago and it was horrid to put it politely, bland, a pathetic excuse for a fancy fish soup. THIS however, changed my opinion of the classic fish dish all together!! when done by the experts and these certainly are, it's a gastronomic treat!! trust me, your search is over.

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4  Thank smoothjagger
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 9, 2013

Away from the crowds, the hectic scenery of the vieux port, this oasis of good food, good service is a very pleasant experience in this hectic city.
the saint pierre was delicious: very simple but the quality if the fish is so outstanding, it doesn't need a lot of other contornos.

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2  Thank annuska h
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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