The navettes of Marseille

Biscuits for the snack break

Navettes are dry biscuits (shaped as small boats) traditionally prepared for Candlemas instead of pancakes, especially in Marseille. It is a biscuit that was created by Monsieur Aveyrous in 1781. It is eaten cold (like most dry cakes). It is made of wheat flour, sugar, eggs and orange blossom water which gives it its flavour!

Its origin

Several legends are evoked as for the origin of the navettes. Nevertheless, the most popular legend is surely the one that attributes the symbolization of the boat that brought the Saintes-Maries(the three Marys) to the coast of Provence!  This would have given the idea to its founder, Mr Aveyrous, to give a boat shape to his biscuit…

However, others think that the origin of navettes is due to a statue of the Virgin found on the banks of the Lacydon in the 13th century and which would have been perceived as a sign of protection by the little community of the craftsmen.

Tradition of Candlemas at Saint Victor

On February 2nd, the oldest church in Marseille, St Victor’s Abbey celebrates Candlemas. On this day, the octave of Candlemas begins (procession during which the famous black virgin is brought out as well as green candles which symbolise light, hope and purifying fire).

The processions end at the “Four des Navettes” (rue Sainte next to the Abbaye St Victor), the former bakery of the abbey, with the blessing of the oven by the Archbishop of Marseille (a 232 year old oven).

Over time, the navette  evolves…

If originally, the traditional navette was only flavored with orange blossom, it can now be found perfumed with different spices…

Other houses are nowadays known, notably in the Panier district, the “Navettes des Accoules” (cheque and cash are accepted for purchase, no credit card).

Four des Navettes 
136 rue Sainte
13007 Marseille

Les Navettes des Accoules 
68 rue Caisserie
13002 Marseille