La Relève, Marseille – A Bar, Few Rooms, An Institution

In Marseille, at 41, Endoume street, the Art Deco sign announces in wrought iron and capital letters “BAR de la Relève” and lets you know you’ve arrived at La Relève.

Grégoire Hessmann and Gregory Mandonato, local figures with southern accents, have made it an institution. One on the terrace and the other in the kitchen. The old-fashioned counter spirit, the speckled 5×5 tiles on the floor, the short but enticing slate, the 70’s bench and especially the generous speaking behind the bar… Almost everything is there!

The almost, these are the 4 rooms like at home, which now open above the bar, for friends of friends passing through this lovely Marseille quarter, Endoume.

In 2023, La Relève expanded upstairs to open four rooms for a guesthouse that feels like home. To handle both the décor and comfort, the keys were entrusted to Marseille architect Elsa Junod of Junod Marc Architects and Annick Lestrohan and Ingrid Giribone, the mother-daughter duo the French interior decoration brand Honoré.

The rooms are an elegant trip back tothe 1950s. Like the bar and the restaurant, they embody the neighbourhood spirit. Many imprints can be found here: ArtDeco, local lifestyle, the oldfashioned (and utterly charming!) hotels on the Côte d’Azur and the Amalfi Coast, and summer chic. Without ever losing sight of the Mediterranean vibe. A southern charm that is found in the chosen hues, the sensuality of the objects, the roundness of the doorways, the terry-cloth bed linens.

Each room has its own colour code (blue, pink, green, and yellow) linked to a unique theme: Tropical, Rococo, Provençal and Mediterranean. Here, grace is in the air: Italian-style showers and generous bathtubs, unique desks and headboards, Provençal tommettes (hexagon clay tiles), woodwork made by Marseille artisan Romain Davidico.

The recipe for success? A high-quality bistro with three daily lunchtime specials, each beautifully plated and fresh (made with organic and local ingredients), accompanied by a wine list that is equally well sourced. And each night, when the sky turns pink and orange, thirst-quenching beers or pastis & panisses are a must. A pitch-perfect epicurean pause that has figured out how to stand out from Marseille’s other night-time offerings.

I love the idea of sleeping above the bar, for the proximity to the last evening drink and the first morning coffee!

La Relève
41 Rue d’Endoume
13007 Marseille