When you are in Marseille, in South of France, don’t forget to pay a visit to St Victor Abbey and to eat the famous Navettes pastries !
The story of St Victor Abbey of Marseille and of the Navettes pastries. Situated on the southern bank of the Vieux-Port above the dry dock, this Abbey founded in the 5th century on the tomb of an ancient Christian martyr played an important role in Christianity’s development in the Mediterranean between the 11th and 18th centuries.
The present church, built in the 11th and 14th centuries, stands over an earlier crypt that houses early Christian sarcophagi. Daily 9 am-7 pm. Entrance to the church is free; admission to the crypt is 2 euros. 3 Rue de l’Abbaye (seventh arrondissement), Marseille.
You can’t visit Saint-Victor Abbey without a stop at the oldest bakery in town, which opened in 1781, The Four des Navettes, 136 Rue Sainte, Marseille. Navettes are traditional little pastries made in the shape of a “navette” or small boat, 7 to 8 cm long. Their name recalls the voyage of Lazarus, his sister Martha and the two Saint Marys, who are said to have landed in Provence almost 2000 years ago in such a vessel, giving their name to the town of “Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer.”
At Le Four des Navettes, near the Abbey of St. Victor in the heart of Marseille, navettes have been baked continuously since 1781. They are traditionally eaten after the Candlemas Day procession on February 2. The Archbishop of Marseille blesses an oven load of these little cakes and according to tradition, ten days later, on February 12, the Black Virgin of the Abbey appears in the chapel.