AEIOU Parties Review – Owner leaves comment on review

Comment from Owner of AEIOU Parties Ltd

I have pasted below the comment left by Manuel, the owner of AEIOU Parties Limited, on my original blog post AEIOU Parties Review Awful Experience.

This post contains:

  • My response to Manuel’s comment
  • A comment left by someone who narrowly avoided working for AEIOU
  • Manuel’s comment
  • My email from which Manuel has misquoted me in the post on the AEIOU website

It is amazing the number of other entertainment companies and entertainers, alongside parents, who can see that a full refund and proper apology is the least AEIOU can do after ruining a little girl’s party. But Manuel just can’t seem to get his head around this.

Instead, AEIOU will be posting their version of events over on their website. I am really keen to see what this will say.

Especially as they will apparently be quoting something that I emailed to them in my first email of complaint.

“My little girl and her friends enjoyed the party”

Yes, those words are in that email, but the full sentence was…

“My little girl and her friends enjoyed the party in spite of the entertainment, rather than because of it”.

I have pasted my original email in full below as well.

Manuel has also accused me of trying to profit from this experience by updating the design of this blog and linking within the post to my main parenting blog.

I can assure you, Manuel, that the first thoughts I had as I saw your entertainer ruining our daughter’s party, were not, “ooh I could use this to promote my business.”

With regard to the template update. Anyone who knows will know that this change of template was the result of two clicks of the mouse.

The reason I changed template?

The previous one made it difficult to read all the comments.

I chose to post this story on my personal blog  specifically because this is a personal issue and not a business one.

Posting it on Mums Make Lists, which has page impressions of 200,000+ per month, would have been a far more efficient way for me to ‘make use of this as a business opportunity’.

Manuel, your comment is also the first time I’ve been made aware that the entertainer who showed up wasn’t necessarily the one who was meant to do the job. Why hasn’t that been mentioned before?

Manuel, you clearly feel very hard done by that my original post has caused such a stir. But instead of thinking about yourself, try putting the focus on the real issue here…

I am a mother of a 5 year old daughter who booked an Elsa entertainer from AEIOU in good faith.

When the entertainment ruined the party and left my little girl asking me, “Why didn’t Elsa come to my party?”, and me in tears, I came to you with a complaint and a request for an apology and a full refund.

To date you have not made an outright apology and you have only given me a 50% refund. Which means that AEIOU has pocketed just under £90 for ruining a little girl’s birthday party.

I had no desire to see my daughter’s party ruined after all the effort we put in to making it special for her. Nor did I have any desire to have to spend hour after hour on this issue after the party.

The ideal scenario for me would have been:

  • Book entertainer
  • Entertainer arrives on time and does a good job
  • Everyone’s happy.
  • We get on with our lives with lovely memories of a great party


  • Book entertainer
  • Entertainer arrives late with no advanced warning
  • Entertainer does really bad job and looks awful
  • Complain to agency
  • Agency issue a 50% refund and quote their mysterious ‘Terms & Conditions’ as reason for not giving back full fee.
  • I spend hours or my time dealing with this issue

And yes, the way I’ve been treated, does lead me to question whether it will happen to other families. Which is why I felt so strongly about sharing my experience of dealing with AEIOU online.

The original post, AEIOU Parties Review Awful Experience, has also received this comment from an entertainer who says they interviewed to work for you…

“I almost worked for AEIOU, but thankfully left myself after the interview. The interview consisted of playing a party game of your choice with the other applicants, and then The next day I was told I was successful. I was never asked for any references or a CRB/DBS check. They tried to send me to a party, where I would have to “face paint, balloon model, play music games and perform a puppet show for 30 children”. I asked when my training would be, they said I didn’t need any. I told them I couldn’t balloon model and had never painted faces before, they told me “I’d be fine, just wing it”. I was told I would have to organise all the games, equipment, costume and provide the puppet myself, with no help or training from the company. And the real kicker, the party would have cost the host £180, I would have recieved £50 for doing all of the work. AEIOU is simply a scam scheme, with no regard for the children they entertain or the entertainers themselves. The entertainer in this story was probably shoved there last minute with no idea what was going on the day after the first interview like I nearly was. Terrible terrible company”.

Comment from Manuel, owner of AEIOU Parties:

I am the owner of the company that had the problem with luci. First of all i have to say sorry again (as we have done many times to her via mail and phone and 3 different people). Sorry for the things that we did wrong but also for the anger and sadness in Luci. Anyway we dont agree in some of the things that Luci presented here and that many others have imagined or commented, so we are, among other things, preparing a post in our website explaining our full version and explanation of this story as there are many things that were not mentioned by luci or even not known about what happened to the entertainer who was going to attend. I think always is good to listen to both parts and then give opinions. Always with respect, and from our human nature that make us imperfect. Everyone can do mistakes. We did in certain things wrong, we say sorry for those, but we also need to express our part to make people acknowledge all before criticising. One of the main things is that despite somethings i have read and copy pasting luci’s email:

“My little girl and her friends enjoyed the party” by Luci McQuitty Hindmarsh

We have understood what we did wrong so, Luci, your work, as you said, is done. This will never happen again to any other family. Now, as you said you can feel calm about this hole thing. That is what i read although sometimes i felt you didnt want us but to deeply and agressively damage our 15 years and more than 15.000 parties and more than 98% happy customers. That is the absolute truth. We are so sorry that this happened to your party, it will never happen again, and we will explain in oir web how we will do and how all of you can check that is true. So you got your goal, this will not happen again, so if that was your aim, as you repeated here and in social media, after reading our post everything should be right

we feel sad that because of the great relevance of this issue that you also feel surprised, you have taken advantage and redesign your template to make it more appealing, change menus, and even add, move, change.. a couple of follow links with not much reason to your website. If this is about your child, shouldnt make business of it. We feel used. Your main aim was to make us never give a bad service before, not anything else and not those commercial things

Crisis are an opportunity to grow, and this is how we feel this moment. Honestly I have to say thanks for making us more exigent about ourselves and make this work better. This will not make us think anything destructive but we will analyse everything we can improve, everything we should improve, and grow much stronger with much more hard work than before in every field. So thanks and sorry. Shortly we will send you our post so that u can share with all your community with a no follow and maybe all can be better informed reading both parts

thanks to the ones that here or mailing and calling us have brought to us the trust because they know us well, or at least the doubt if they dont know us. We also prepare the post for you. Thanks

(we do as a post because we have talked to Luci a few times abouth this and the situation requires a full explanation to all of you which cannto be made individual)

My original email of complaint to AEIOU

Luci McQuitty Hindmarsh <>

17 Jan
to Sarah

Hi Sarah

As discussed on the phone, we are really unhappy with the service we received today.


The entertainer arrived at the time she was due to start entertaining and it then took her twenty minutes to get changed and set up, most of which was spent getting changed. During this time we had to keep the children occupied.


In short, she looked a total mess. She wore an ill-fitting Elsa dress over her own clothes, which were black. The dress came undone at the back, she had help to do it up, but it came undone again and stayed that way.

The wig was too small and ended up being worn like a badly fitting hat.

She wore no make-up, which given the character of Elsa being super glamorous, really wasn’t good.

The Entertainment

Was patchy and rushed. She’d had no time to prepare or set up properly. When she started the face painting she turned the music off, as it was on her phone and she wanted to use her phone to time the face paint sessions.

Face Painting

I did explain yesterday that as there were more children than expected, it would be best to just do a small something for each child. This had been lost in translation so we had to intervene.

Ultimately, my husband and a friend stepped in, managed to get some music on and entertained the kids with a couple of games.


These ended up being made in a rush at the end of the party, whilst all the kids were watching Misty blow the candles out on her cake etc.


And finally, whilst I understand that you can’t discriminate over who gets given a job, an Elsa with a heavy Spanish accent is not good. I would expect an entertainer to at least try to do an American accent.

Having chatted to the entertainer when I gave her the outstanding balance of the payment, she explained to me that she was late because she was waiting for the dress to come across from another entertainer at the agency.

She explained that she chose to wear the dress over the top of her clothes because the dress was wet with sweat.

So ultimately the agency needs to think about how they manage bookings, because a lot of these issues wouldn’t have arisen if the entertainer had been able to arrive on time and wear a clean outfit.

My little girl and her friends enjoyed the party in spite of the entertainment, rather than because of it.

The adults were all incredulous as to why someone who looked like she’d stumbled out of a rave at 6am was entertaining at a kids party.

I would like a refund on this booking, I am deeply unhappy at how this has panned out. We have been to plenty of kids parties over the last couple of years and seen some great kids entertainers in action. The service we received today was way below parr.

I look forward to hearing back from you with confirmation of a refund.

Yours, Luci

Luci McQuitty Hindmarsh


AEIOU Parties Elsa From Frozen Review – Horrific Experience

AEIOU Parties Limited, Childrens' Parties London, AEIOU Parties Elsa From Frozen Entertainer

We booked an ‘Elsa from Frozen Entertainer’ from AEIOU Parties Ltd, a children’s party entertainment agency in London, for our daughter’s 5th birthday party.

We are deeply unhappy with the ‘entertainment’ AEIOU provided and the way they have dealt with this issue.  I’ve posted about our story, because I would hate for any other families to have the same experience.

A quick summary of this post:

  • The entertainer was late, and didn’t call us to let us know
  • The entertainer looked dreadful
  • The entertainer told the kids “Elsa couldn’t make it”
  • The entertainment provided was appalling
  • AEIOU Parties refused us a full refund

Our little girl was HUGELY excited, as were all her friends, that she would be having an Elsa Entertainer. Little did I know what a mistake I’d made trusting AEIOU.

The images below are of what the actual entertainer looked like.

AEIOU Parties Limited, Childrens' Parties London, AEIOU Parties Elsa From Frozen EntertainerAEIOU Parties Limited, Childrens' Parties London, AEIOU Parties Elsa From Frozen Entertainer

Add to this that the lady had a heavy Spanish accent and you begin to get a picture of the level of care put into providing us with an Elsa Entertainer.

According to the agency, they cannot discriminate over who they give a job to. Fine if the person can pull off the accent of the character they are playing and looks vaguely like them…

The Entertainer Was Late

Our party started at 4pm. The entertainer was due to start entertaining at 4:15pm.

She finally arrived at 4:20pm and didn’t start entertaining the children until 4:35pm.

We did not receive a call to say she’d be late. We called the agency twice, who didn’t know where the entertainer was either.

Any parent who has put their heart and soul into preparing a kids party will understand how stressful this was – greeting expectant guests and their parents with a rictus smile, whilst trying to contact the agency to find out where the entertainer was and dying a little inside that I’d trusted them.

How Our ‘Elsa from Frozen’ Looked

AEIOU Parties Limited, Childrens' Parties London, AEIOU Parties Elsa From Frozen Entertainer

I think the photos say it all. She looked dreadful, like she’d left a rave at 6am.

Apparently the Elsa outfit had been worn by another entertainer earlier that day and was wet with sweat. So, our entertainer decided to put the outfit on OVER THE TOP over her own clothes, which happened to be black.

She didn’t even bother to put the costume shoes on and wore a pair of tatty black flat shoes. The dress came undone at the back, someone did it up for her, but it wouldn’t stay done up, so she left it to hang off.

The wig didn’t fit her and she didn’t bother to put any make-up on.

AEIOU have since gone on to be quoted in a piece in to say that actually, despite it being their fault that the entertainer was late and her costume was dirty, it is actually our fault that she looked such a mess, because if our party was really so important, we should have given her more time… I’d love to know how that would have worked… “oh hold on kids, the entertainment should have started 20 minutes ago, but if you could just amuse yourselves whilst we help the entertainer get better prepared…” 

Here’s their laughable accusation…

‘We assume the responsibility of the delay, the wet costume and therefore not having the right amount of time to prepare, but I think that if the party was so important as we also think it should be, Luci should have go to the entertainer [sic] and give the time she needed to look great.’

Read more:

AEIOU Parties Limited, Childrens' Parties London, AEIOU Parties Elsa From Frozen Entertainer

The Entertainment

“Elsa couldn’t come to your party”

The entertainment was dreadful… To start with, when one of the children asked her…

“Where is Elsa?”

The ‘entertainer’ replied…

“Elsa couldn’t come to the party, so I am here instead”

I think everyone can imagine how that made our little girl feel.

Where’s the music?

The entertainer’s PA system wasn’t very powerful and had constant static and feedback.

The entertainer told my husband that she has a bigger PA system, but doesn’t like bringing it to parties because it is too heavy. Useful.

Parents open-mouthed in disbelief

She did some singing, but she hadn’t bothered to stage herself, rather she stuck to a corner of the room – a room with sloping eves – and it was all very underwhelming.

The combination of the way the entertainer looked, in her cheap and dirty Elsa dress thrown over her own black clothes, the ill-fitting wig, the totally inappropriate-for -the-character heavy Spanish accent, and the fact her singing was awful, had all the parents’ jaws dropping to the floor in disbelief.

Face painting stress & parents have to take over entertaining

I had expressed concerns with the agency about the time it would take to face paint 20 children, and had agreed with the agency that the entertainer would do a very small and simple design on each child.

This did not happen until I intervened.  If the entertainer had carried on at her pace, it would have taken her well over an hour to complete the 20 kids….

…which might have been bearable if she’d got something up her sleeve to entertain the children….

I’d asked the agency how the kids would be entertained during the face painting and was told…

“Each entertainer has their own special way of entertaining the kids whilst they are doing the face painting”.

Well this entertainer’s way of entertaining the kids was to turn the music off – because it was on her phone and she wanted to time her face painting – and do NOTHING to entertain the kids.

Instead she became increasingly frosty with the children as she made her way through the face painting.

Parents find a way to entertain the kids…

In the end, to do something to keep the kids amused during the face painting, my friend and my husband took matters into their own hands and started to entertain the children with games of musical statues and the hokey-cokey.

Bizarre Rock Music Moment

After the face-painting, the entertainer said she’d do a couple more ‘games’. These amounted to a couple of song things, neither of which were anything to do with the Frozen soundtrack, the second of which was some heavy rock number from the 70s, to which she started punching the air and looking like a complete loon.

This had my fellow parents at the party curling up in shocked laughter.

No balloon for the birthday girl

And to end the sorry state of affairs. The entertainer’s last job was to create balloon animals / shapes for the kids. She did this hurriedly whilst we did the cake and sang happy birthday.

When our daughter asked her for a balloon animal she said to her…

“Sorry, I don’t have time”

The only reason our daughter got her balloon creation was that my husband stepped in and pointed out that she was the birthday girl.

So, the entertainer was so unengaged with the party she couldn’t even remember who the birthday girl was. Impressive.


In total we paid £175 for 1.5 hours of entertainment, 50% ahead of the party and 50% to the entertainer on the day.

Yes, I actually handed over cash to this woman. I wasn’t going to, but having called the agency during the party to tell the agent I was appalled by the service, and that I wasn’t happy to hand over the second payment, I was advised  by the agent that I needed to pay the money and then complain to the agency in order to receive a refund.

If my brain hadn’t been so addled with stress, I would have ignored their advice and kept my money.

And I wish I had, because two weeks on from complaining to AEIOU, I have ended up with only a 50% refund. Yip, exactly the amount that I would have kept if I’d not paid the entertainer.

AEIOU Won’t Give A Full Refund If The Entertainer Shows Up

The agency insisted that their offer of a 50% refund was in-line with their Terms & Conditions.

The only issue with this being that we hadn’t been sent any Terms & Conditions at time of booking and the Terms & Conditions aren’t findable on their website.

I asked for a copy of the Terms & Conditions to be sent to me. 24 hours  later the Terms & Conditions still hadn’t arrived. I chased and was told…

“They are just coming over from our legal person”

Make of that what you will, I know what it leads me to believe.

Why I Want To Warn Other Parents About AEIOU

It takes a lot of time, care and love to put together a child’s birthday party, not to mention a lot of money.

Hiring an entertainer is a big part of the financial cost, and the entertainer is meant to be the focal point for the party.

To have created an Elsa themed party for our daughter and then have the ‘Elsa entertainer’ turn up late, shove on a dodgy wig and dirty costume over her own clothes, and then tell the expectant children…

“Elsa couldn’t make it”

… before launching into a second rate entertainment routine, RUINED our daughter’s birthday party.

In fact, the last thing our daughter said quietly to me before she went to bed that night was…

“Mummy, why didn’t Elsa come to my party?”

Which is not how I had imagined her birthday party day would end.

The poor service also ruined the party for my husband and me. Previously we’ve done the entertainment ourselves at parties, and this year we had wanted to relax and enjoy watching our daughter having fun at her party.

This was our daughter’s 5th birthday party, it was meant to be a really special and magical occasion for her. We worked really hard as parents to make it happen. We were totally let down by AEIOU and their entertainer.

A full refund would have gone some way towards recompensing us for a completely ruined party. It still wouldn’t have made up for the fact the party was ruined by the poor entertainment.

For AEIOU to apologise and say that this wasn’t their normal service, but then to go on to say that as the entertainer had shown up (eventually) it meant that they could at most refund us 50% of the fee, is belligerently missing the point that the cost to us of this sorry excuse for entertainment was far more than the fee we paid AEIOU.

So I’ll end with a warning to any other parents planning on booking an Elsa Entertainer… think really carefully about who you book and which children’s entertainment agency you go to.

Ideally go for a recommendation. In fact, if you tweet me @LuciMcQ I can share with you details of two Elsa entertainers, in the East London area,who have apparently done amazing jobs of entertaining. If only we’d known about them before we booked with AEIOU.

AEIOU Parties Limited, Childrens' Parties London, AEIOU Parties Elsa From Frozen Entertainer

 Author: I’m Luci McQuitty Hindmarsh, co-editor of parenting blog . Mums Make Lists is the number one parenting blog offering simple tips for busy mums, tried and tested by busy mums. London based, loved in the UK and USA.

Find me on Twitter @LuciMcQ

The link at the top of the post to AEIOU is a nofollow link to ensure no SEO benefits to AEIOU from this post. 

80% of cigarette smoke is invisible… so don’t smoke around non-smokers

I am passionately anti-smoking. I always have been. But I’ve also breathed in a LOT of smoke over the years, because I’ve had no choice but to be around people who smoke.

The smoking ban wasn’t around when I was out partying and going to clubs in my teens and early twenties… so I spent hour after hour dancing my heart out, whilst my lungs were filling with second hand smoke.

The smoking ban was a welcome relief from smoke filled bars, pubs and the misery of having to sit next to someone smoking at the next table in a restaurant.

But the flip side is that outdoor areas are now crammed with people heaving away on cigarettes… not great, particularly when there are children around.

And I live in a London terrace where there’s often a smoker sitting outside a neighbouring house having a cigarette… sitting outside to keep the smoke out of their house, but if we have a window or door open, it comes straight into ours.

And that brings me onto the biggest concern of all… babies and children breathing in second hand smoke. Why should they ever have to? Why should anyone who doesn’t smoke ever have to?

When someone smokes near me, this is what I experience…

  • my eyes water
  • my nose runs
  • I feel faintly nauseous
  • My hair and clothes smell of smoke

On top of that, second hand smoke is damaging my lungs. It’s damaging the lungs of everyone, baby, child or adult, who has to breathe it in.

80% of cigarette smoke is invisible

Watch this video about second-hand smoking… over 80% of cigarette smoke is invisible… but it’s still have an effect.. on you and on all those around you.

So you may think you’re being considerate, but you’re not. Smoking anywhere near anyone else is never considerate. Not in the car, not in a public space, not near someone else’s house, not around non-smokers in your own home. It. Is. Never. Considerate. You. Are. Always. Causing. Them. To. Breathe. In. Toxins. That. Your. Cigarette. Is. Producing.

So why do it? It’s a habit? Work hard to give it up.

It’s your right? Is it… ?

Revamped public entrance to Kensington Palace

Kensington Palace: revamped and really rather wonderful

It’s the school summer holidays and M and I are on a mission to do something fun every single day of the holiday. London is such a great place to be with kids in the summer months, so doing something fun every day isn’t hard to achieve.

Kensington Palace… WOW!

Today M (age 4.5) and I whiled away a sunny London day with friends, exploring the newly revamped Kensington Palace, followed by a meander through Kensington Gardens for a play in the super duper Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Playground.

Kensington Palace’s make-over is nothing short of fabulous. The way areas of it have been brought into the 21st century whilst staying loyal to the history and grandeur of the Palace is nothing short of brilliant. The use of 21st Century technology is ace – film projected onto walls, writing appearing letter by letter as if by ghost…

In particular I love the simple line drawings adorning the corridor walls on the ground floor, the lineage of the recent royals through the medium of a line-up of scatter cushions and the Diana wallpaper – wallpaper designed by fashion illustrator Julie Verhoeven. Oooh and the fabulous dresses on display, both of Queen Victoria and in the current Fashion Rules exhibition.

Here’s a selection of snaps from our time spent at the Palace… for full details on paying Kensington Palace a visit, hop over to the Historic Royal Palaces website.

The revamped public entrance to the Palace

Revamped public entrance to Kensington Palace

Line drawings at Kensington Palace

Line drawing of bird at Kensington Palace

Line drawing of crown at Kensington Palace

Line drawing of ballet shoes at Kensington PalacLine drawing of bird at Kensington Palace

 Diana, Princess of Wales wallpaper – WANT!!

Diana Princess of Wales Wallpaper at Kensington Palace

Modern Royal Family lineage scatter cushions

Lineage of royal family depicted with scatter cushions

Queen Victoria’s Wedding Dress

Mirror images of Queen Victoria's wedding dress

Interactive Fashion Rules game

Interactive fashion design game, Fashion Rules Kensington Palace

Zandra Rhodes fashion confection for Diana Princess of Wales


Evening dress worn by Diana Princess of Wales Diana Princess of Wales evening dress Kensington Palace

Projection of Diana onto the wall of the Palace  Projection of Diana Princess of Wales, Kensington Palace

Signs for the Throne Rooms at Kensington Palace 😉

Sit on the throne at Kensington Palace, toilet signs with crowns at Kensington Palace

#GirlSummit London 2014 – What does freedom mean to you?

Girls have the right to reach their full potential

Today, 22 July 2014, the UK will host the first Girl Summit, aimed at mobilising domestic and international efforts to end female genital mutilation (FGM) and child, early and forced marriage (CEFM) within a generation. UNICEF is co-hosting the event.

Find out all about Girl Summit here

Girl Summit Insta-Documentary

Introducing the world’s first Insta-documentary, created from Instagram footage in honour of girls affected by child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM).

The film calls for an end to these harmful practices ahead of the world’s first Girl Summit. Click here to find out why you should be pledging your support to end these two practices.

Pledge your support so that every female, from new born babies through to elderly women, has the chance to live her life free from abuse, oppression and discrimination. Girl Summit Pledge.


Metro Sign Marseille Le Vieux Port

Things to do during a weekend stay in Marseille

Things to do in Marseille

I’ve been going to Marseille from London on and off since I was a kid. But this last trip I fell in love with France’s second largest, but coolest, city all over again. Not least because since being bestowed with a European City of Culture title for 2013, Marseille has had something of a wash and brush up.

Whilst the gritty realness of Marseille remains – and it still certainly has its issues, this Provencal melting pot of a city is busting out with cool things to see and do. Yet still not overrun with plane loads of tourists 😉

This particular trip to Marseille I was with my husband and our four year old daughter. Here’s a rundown of our weekend to share with you some great ways to while away a couple of days in Marseille.

Where we stayed:

Hotel La Residence du Vieux Port

Lounge in Hotel Residence de la Vieux Port Marseille

If it’s your first time in Marseille I wholly recommend staying in the Vieux Port area of Marseille, see below for more details.

If you can, opt for a hotel on the quayside itself, we stayed at the Hotel La Residence du Vieux Port, a recently renovated and effortlessly stylish hotel in a mid-century modern block. The entire hotel is styled with a retro 50s and most have a balcony overlooking the Vieux Port. Find out more about the hotel here.

Desk in room of Hotel Residence de la Vieux Port Marseille, Retro desk

Bathroom in Hotel Residence de la Vieux Port Marseille

Things to do in Marseille:

Le Vieux Port

Vintage sailing boat in Le Vieux Port Marseille

The Vieux Port (The Old Port) was the original harbour of Marseille and is very much a popular place to hang out, particularly since swathes of it became pedestrianised in 2013. There are various markets through the week, but it’s in the evening that it really comes alive. As the sun goes down, the Vieux Port is abuzz with families, couples and groups of friends.

Le Vieux Port Pavilion

Mirror Pavilion Le Vieux Port Marseille, tourist attraction Marseille

Le Vieux Port Pavilion is a polished steel canopy that reflects visitors walking underneath. Designed by Foster + Partners, it is quite literally a reflection of its surroundings.

Musée des Civilisations de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée (MuCEM)


MUCEM Marseille Le Vieux Port

Situated at the entrance to the Vieux Port, MuCEM seemingly floating between sea and sky, this new museum (opened in 2013) is dedicated to the cultures of the Med, their history and civilisation. Yadda yadda, all that aside, it’s a great architectural sight to behold and experience, not to mention a great place to visit for a coffee or spot of lunch.

Le Panier

Shop front in Le Panier Marseille

Just behind the Vieux Port to the North is Le Panier, the oldest area of Marseille. It’s often dubbed the Montmartre of Marseille, once a working class area, it’s now decidedly more bohemian and artisan. Check out the higgledy piggledy off-beat beauty of the ochre washed and shuttered houses and buildings.

Street art in Le Panier quarter of Marseille, Street art in Le Panier quartier Marseille

Buy from local designers, artists and boutique owners and if you’re there at mealtime, pay a visit to the Au Coeur du Panier restaurant.

Shop in Le Panier district of Marseille, Le Panier, Marseille

Restaurant: Au Coeur du Panier

Table in Le Coeur Du Panier Restaurant Marseille, Restaurant table Marseille

Slap bang in the middle of Le Panier – hence the name – Au Coeur du Panier is a tiny restaurant with maybe five tables inside and a couple outside. But if you can bag one of them, you’re in for a gastro-treat. Modern Provencal cooking at its finest. They even cooked up a special off-menu dish for a tired and grouchy (too much sun, not enough sleep) four year old.

Address: 18 Rue Panier13002 Marseille.

Restaurant: Le Café des Épices

Lunch at Le Cafe Des Epice in Le Panier Marseille, Restaurant in Marseille

We had lunch here on our first day in Marseille. Yum. Interesting modern combos of food and out of this world presentation. Le Café des Épices is located in a square that has been made over with giant plant pots and if you sit at the right table, you can see out to Le Vieux Port.

Address: 4 rue du Lacydon, Marseille.

Cours Julien

Street Art Graffiti Cour Julien Marseille

Visit the Cours Julien area. It’s the equivalent of London’s Hoxton, but on a very small scale. Graffitied walls, achingly cool cafes, bars and night spots, it’s a hipsters paradise. But even if you aren’t a beardy hipster or his belle, it’s worth a visit to experience the delightful food of Cafe Vian.

Restaurant: Cafe Vian

Cafe Vian fillet steak, Cafe Vian restaurant Marseille

Situated in a seedy looking, graffiti splattered street, not much bigger than an alleyway, we weren’t sure at first if we were going to stop to eat. But having been recommended by someone in the know, we took our seats at Cafe Vian and were. not. disappointed.

I had possibly the finest tasting, most melt in the mouth fillet steak ever and I had to fend both my husband and our daughter off my dessert of profiteroles filled with caramel ice cream and dripping in hot chocolate sauce. Best of all, this place does not break the bank by a long shot. Our bill for three courses plus a bottle of wine came to around 80 Euros.

Cafe Vian profiterole dessert

Address: 12, Rue Vian 13006 Marseille

Le Corbusier’s La Cité Radieuse

Art Gallery on roof of La Cite Radieuse Marseille, Roof Top Le Cite Radieuse Le Corbusier

La Cité Radieuse was and is, ubber architect, designer and town planner, Le Corbusier’s, experimental city in a building. The first and the most famous of his Unité d’Habitation (housing units). As testament to the genius of its designer, remains to this day a desirable place to dwell.

Art Gallery on roof of La Cite Radieuse Marseille, Roof Top  of La Cite Radieuse by Le Corbusier

You’ll need to take a guided tour to experience life in La Cité Radieuse. You’ll see a high street within a tower block, complete with shops, restaurant, cafe and a hotel. There’s also work spaces, a school and of course apartments.

The high street of shops within Le Cite Radieuse by Le Corbusier

La Cité Radieuse is located in south Marseille, it’s a bit of a trek if you’re staying in the Vieux Port area, but if you’re a design and culture vulture, it’s well worth a visit.

Art Gallery on roof of La Cite Radieuse Marseille, Roof Top  of La Cite Radieuse by Le Corbusier

Book a tour: Marseille Tourisme 

Basilica of Notre Dame de la Garde

Le Vieux Port Marseille at night with Notre Dame de la Garde

Of course a trip to Marseille wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Basilica of Notre Dame de la Garde, the most iconic building in the City.

Notre Dame de la Garde is tear jerkingly beautiful. It’s a bit of a trek up hill to see it, but once you get there the spectacle of the Basilica itself and the views from it make the huffing and puffing all worthwhile (Don’t worry, you don’t have to walk, you can drive or take Le Petit Train) .

Le Petit Train

And finally, a quick note about Le Petit Train. It’s a tourist ‘train’ that trundles round the roads of Le Panier, Le Vieux Port and up to Notre Dame de la Garde. We didn’t take it, cos it’s not our kind of thing, but it is a useful way to get to know Marseille.

Useful links:

And finally… this post catches the flavour of Marseille perfectly…