Marseille: Secret Fig Marmalade Recipe

Posted by on Nov 30, 2009

I took a short train ride to Marseille in the South of France as a breather from bustling Paris. The balmy and humid Mediterranean air welcomed me. Whilst wandering around, its prominent Italian and Greek influences became quickly apparent.

Overlooking the port. What kind of plant is this? I thought it’s olives…

This gorgeous port city is the oldest city in France and boasts of an active fishing industry. The scenic Vieux Port (The Old Port) is dotted with restaurants, cafés, and bars. Many waterfront establishments are closed during the Winter months, which played in my favour because I find swarms of tourists overwhelming.

Food enthusiasts are probably wondering: How was the seafood? Did you have Bouillabaisse?
That’s saved for another post. Instead, I’d like to share about my retreat in a quaint, rustic bed and breakfast.

Courtyard and pool.

From its streetview, I would never suspect that a bed and breakfast existed through the narrow and unremarkable doors. Stepping inside, I was transported into a cozy and charming sanctuary.

View from my breakfast table.

The gentle host prepared breakfast at dawn and guests were invited to mingle and share travel stories. My travels showed me that Europeans do not eat breakfast like North Americans do.

Le matin à Paris: The flakiest, butteriest croissants are found at every corner.

A croissant or a slice of buttered baguette with coffee is the usual Parisian fare. Italians linger over coffee in a similar fashion, sometimes with a piece of baked good. Meanwhile, Barcelonians don’t seem to appear on the streets before lunchtime. Correct me if I’m mistaken.

Nope, there’s no hashbrowns, sausage links, or pancakes here. Homemade preserves, pats of butter, and rustic bread beckons bonjour.

But look at this beautiful bread… can anyone complain? Alongside a glass of cold orange juice and a mugful of steamy coffee, this comforting spread prepared me for the chilly, windy port.

Here, I also enjoyed a delectable fig marmalade that was made by the host’s wife. While the blueberry and currant jams were great as well, this dark and sticky fig concoction tugged at my heartstrings.

The combination of the orange peel’s slight bitterness, the aroma of smoky honey, and the tiny crunchy bits of fig seeds was worth waking up early for.

The recipe? Between my limited French, an exchange of hand gestures, and moments of skepticism between me and the host, this was what I gathered.

Bed and Breakfast Fig Marmalade


  • 6 cups of fresh figs, quartered
  • 2 small oranges, quartered, seeded and sliced thinly (with peel on)
  • 3-4 cups of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of honey
  • 2 cinnamon sticks


Simmer the ingredients slowly for 1 hour. Stir regularly and add tiny amounts of water if necessary.

Cool complete.

Serve with crusty, rustic bread.

That’s the best I could do, honest.

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  • Melody Fury (admin)

    Hello love, figs are considered a luxury item for me in the Pacific Westcoast. I say, give the dried figs a shot and up the water. What’s the worst that can happen? :) an Earthier, more intense version, I predict.

  • Unplanned Cooking

    You have such a great eye for color.

    Can you use dried figs?

  • Melody Fury (admin)

    Thanks, Jennifer :)

    This was made with fresh figs but I imagine so. The marmalade would be thicker and more intense. Let me know if you do try it please!

  • heidileon

    oh, how I love Marseille and French petit dejeuner! That fig marmalade looks like the perfect match for that delicious bread. Now, where’s my coffee?

  • Carter @ The Kitchenette

    Dearie, you take the most amazing photographs, in my humble opinion. I also wondered if you could make it with dried figs… suffice it to say, we have no fresh figs in Colorado this time of year. And even if they did, the price at the grocery store would surely be “$9.99 AND YOUR SOUL per pound.” Regardless, I’m so looking forward to making this!

  • redkathy

    I’ve never been out of the USA, except for a short trip to Mexico once. How fortunate you are to travel abroad! This breakfast would be my choice! No big heavy breakfasts for me. The bread looks wonderful and marmalade even better. Thanks for sharing your lovely photos and visions of France.

  • Robert-Gilles Martineau

    Great steal, Mel!
    Love that jam!

  • candice

    Ah, I can’t wait to make this! Those pictures make Europe seem so… earthy, and yet elegant. So gorgeous. Thank you!

  • steenbok68

    From the look of the leaves in the first picture, that is not an olive tree…

  • Melody Fury (admin)

    what is it? please tell! :)

  • Marisa

    That first photo is absolutely exquisite! And you have a way of weaving magic with your words too – I almost felt like I was sitting in France while reading your post.

  • Melody Fury (admin)

    Thank you, Marisa :) You are so sweet. Glad you enjoy my writing!

  • http://http// Kathy

    I am Italian and thats just how I make mine. Once I can them I save them to use or making cujadadi ( little fig filled cookies) for Christmas each year. The hurricane killed off our half century old fig trees so friends fom other parts of the state have been sending me canned figs this year.

  • Melody Fury (admin)

    Hi Kathy, aah, that makes sense now. Marseille is rich in Italian influence and I’m happy to receive confirmation on this recipe! Those cookies sound delicious and I’m very sorry to hear about your trees :(

  • Fran

    Beautiful photos. It makes me want to pack my bags now and get over there by morning! :)

  • Danielle

    I love fig anything! Will save this for fig season. Wonderful!

  • Kelly @ EvilShenanigans

    Wow! Beautiful post!! I don’t have nearly enough fig in my life. This seems like an excellent way to solve that problem!

  • Divina

    That’s a heavenly breakfast. It’s okay if there’s not bacon, ham or pancakes for as long as I’m having the best croissants in the world. Along with fennel, I also LOVE figs. Why I do love ingredients that are not available here? Oh well. Also, your photos are gorgeous. Thanks for sharing your fig marmalade recipe.

  • The Urban Spork

    Sounds delicious! I’m making bread today, so this will be the perfect topping!

  • Shuk

    nice photos~ ;)

  • Christine @ Fresh Local and Best

    Now I know why everyone talks about Marseilles in such a dreamy way! Your photos are stunning!

  • wasabi prime

    Amazing photos. What a dreamy adventure you had! And yes, fresh figs are an indulgence in this Pac NW area, but even the dried ones are still nice to use. I love using fig preserves on… well, everything.

  • Jessica

    first off let me just say that fig marmalade sounds wonderful! I would just spread that on a nice piece of fresh bread. Your photos are so breathtaking! I just love the story that comes with each photo.

  • Sook

    My mouth is watering by just looking at your photos. What amazing photos!

  • French Cooking for Dummies

    Your pictures are amazing! Are you sure the tree on the first picture is not an olive tree from a special kind? I keep looking at it, I don’t see what else it could be…

  • Rose at The Bite Me Kitchen

    North American breakfast is a bit heavy for me. This looks just perfect. A hearty fruit & nut studded bread, beautiful jams and fresh coffee. This marmalade recipe looks PERFECT! Thank you ;)

  • Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite

    OMG – sumptuous! And I wanna know the name of that B&B… Heavenly!

  • Cahide

    Great recipes!I got my blog a meal.Turkey doing dishes.See you seen…

  • PaulM

    I suspect the fruits in the photo are small clementines. In APT, Aptunion produces candied clementines to die for: the ultimate marmelade.. HThey look like this :

    I wish I was there….

  • Erica

    I love making jam of all sorts, but haven’t tried a fig marmalade. Hmmm…..that may be next on my list. Looks delicious!

  • Melody Fury (admin)

    @ PaulM Interesing. Thanks for the info! :) I wish I was still there too…

  • Mari @ Once Upon a Plate

    Mel, it cannot just be the light ~ you are such a FABULOUS photographer and I’m so grateful you share. :)

    Like a wonderful mini-vacation, yet we don’t have to be bothered with passports, or packing our bags. Love it!

    Thank you for taking us along, and for giving us the recipe.

    BTW, I believe the unidentified plant may be [ a type of ] pittosporum. We had them all around when I was growing up. There are many varieties and growth habits, but the shape of the leathery leaves and the fruit looks identical to me. Later in the season those pods burst open revealing very sticky (usually bright red) seeds.

  • pierre

    mel do you know that what you describe is just daily routine !! ahhahahah !! this is so good to be french at breakfast ! cheers from Croissantville!

  • Stephanie

    I am on my way to France in a few months.. can you tell me the name of the place you stayed?

  • Melody Fury (admin)

    Hi Stephanie Here’s the link to Un Mas en Ville. Have a great time!