Since 1782, the “Navettes” are no longer distributed from Saint-Victor. Instead they are sold at the “Four des Navettes” bakery, the oldest bakery in Marseilles. It is located almost opposite the abbey.
These biscuits, whose name and shape recall a boat, are the result of the imagination of the founder of the famous bakery.
The story goes that he wanted to remind everybody about an ancient legend…
In the 13th century, the statue of a virgin (Our Lady of the New Fire for some, the Virgin protector of Seafarers for others) was washed up on the banks of the Lacydon. Made of polychrome wood, she was adorned with a green robe and a golden crown. The inhabitants of Marseille saw in her a sign of fortune and protection.
Some also say that the “navette” refers to Isis’ boat or the boat that brought the three Maries (the Virgin, Salomé and Magdalen) to the coast of Provence.
Apart from these interpretations, the one thing we can be sure of is that for over 200 years the method used to make “navettes” has been a jealously guarded trade secret.
They are made using traditional methods. The dough, made from carefully selected flour, is prepared in an old paddle-worked dough trough, and baked in an oven built in 1781 based on an original Roman model. “Navettes” have a unique taste.
Since it was created, the “Four des Navettes” has only had three owners in two centuries, and has never renounced its attachment to this tradition so dear to the people of Marseille.