More than just a market, this is a complete family-size fishing industry, as well as a vital part of the life of Marseilles, and very picturesque. "Peché le nuit, vendu le matin", we were told. Translated, roughly, to "caught during the night, sold in the morning". In fact, "caught during the night" is really the wee-hours of the morning. A procession of the small fishing boats can be seen going out of the harbour around Five O'Clock in the morning, long before the sun comes up.
Location: [Old Port]
About eight or nine in the morning the first boats arrive back at the Quai des Belges. The fisherman or fishermen, only one or two on these small boats, first off-load a shallow blue tray, and set it up on a folding stand on the pier, often aided by mother, wife or other family members waiting there. A scale and a cutting block then come off the boat to be put in place.
With the stand in place, buckets or baskets of fish come off the boat to be poured onto the blue tray, and a bucket of seawater is set beside to keep the fish wet.
Waiting customers crowd up immediately to every newly-arrived fisherman, and out-stretched hands point out their selections from the still-flopping fish. A quick transaction, and the satisfied customer leaves with a little plastic sack writhing with its live content: fish, a nicely squirming octopus or eel. While we watched one morning, a large octupus was put in the pan of the old scale. While the client was counting out to coins to pay, the octupus managed to crawled out and fall to the ground. Its escape was twarted, and it was carried off, still struggling, by the client.
Walking around the Old Port in the morning, you'll see the little sacks of very fresh seafood being carried off in all directions. It's also only a few steps to the metro station, right on the quai, so the live purchase might be squirming all the way home on the metro.