The gilded, 11-metre Madonna that crowns the Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde looks benignly out over the city, and is regarded as the guardian of Marseille. Inside, votive offerings testify to the faith that locals have placed in la bonne mère over the centuries, giving thanks for their deliverance from sickness, shipwrecks and war.
Le Clan des Cigales is a welcoming, wallet-friendly spot. On Fridays and Saturdays, aïoli (steamed vegetables and fish served with garlicky dip) and a glass of organic rosé are a bargain €13.
Or splash out at Une Table, au Sud, where Michelin-starred Lionel Lévy offers courgette flowers stuffed with brousse cheese and a deconstructed “milkshake de bouillabaisse”.
Save room for a scoop of Navettissimo ice-cream at Le Glacier du Roi, its flavour inspired by the city’s delicious orangewater biscuits.
La Bastide des Bains is a sumptuous spot to refresh, reinvigorate and scrub away any early winter blues. In addition to the steamy hammam, it offers massages and facials.
Grand Hôtel Beauvau (rooms from €125) has been a Vieux Port landmark since it opened in the early 19th century: George Sand and Frédéric Chopin stayed here in 1839 and have been followed by scores of writers, artists and composers. The hotel’s panoramic views sweep across Marseille’s skyline and pretty port.
Mama Shelter (rooms from €69) is a southern outpost of the Philippe Starck-designed hotel of the same name in Paris, and the city’s sleekest abode. Rooms are petite but funky, and there’s an industrial-chic restaurant and cocktail bar on the ground floor.
American Vintage was launched by local designer Mickaël Azoulay in 2005. This season, shoppers can stock up on the label’s silk-trimmed knits, neon T-shirts and stripy cardigans.
Savonnerie Marseillaise de la Licorne sells chunks of traditional Marseillaise olive oil soaps, scented with lemon, honey, lavender and more.
If you’re looking for unusual Christmas gifts, the atelier at Santons Marcel Carbonel makes Provence’s traditional santons (nativity figurines).
Le Silo is a grain silo turned music venue; this month, look out for Herbie Hancock (11 November) and MIKA (18 November).
Au Petit Nice is a low-key, welcoming spot to sip une pression (beer) on fashionable Place Jean-Jaurès.