Most of the dining in the vicinity of the Old Port (Vieux Port) is outdoors. With the mild evening air, the city lights, and sight of the boats bobbing in the harbor, dinner can be one of the most enchanting Marseille experiences. On the other hand, outdoor dining in Marseille is not without challenges. Smoking is still allowed in public in France. Chances are good that someone is going to light up at a table near you.
We were made aware of one of the other hazards of eating dinner outside in Marseille - more so after dark. While we were waiting for the waiter to bring our food my wife screamed and almost kicked our table over. I looked up to see what the problem was and caught the glimpse of a rat running from under the table beside us and disappearing between two large flower pots. Over the next few minutes, we would see the rat creep out to snatch a crumb and then dash back to its hiding place. This was happening a little too close to our table so I asked one of the waiters to move us to another table. When I told him it was because we saw a rat, he laughed and said, "Welcome to Marseille." He told us the problem gets even worse after midnight. He moved us to a table far away from the flower pots but we later had to deal with the cigarette smoke from the two tables beside us. That was the last time we ate outdoors in the city.