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To the Beat of the Moules Frites

moules-frites-recipeWe arrived in Marseille on a dusty summer afternoon, tired and moody. It was just at that witching hour when everything we wanted to see was closed and the spirited port took its afternoon siesta. Good thing some folks in Marseille march to a different beat, because at the end of a noiseless alley was one small restaurant determined to keep its door ajar. Blue checkered tablecloths gaily waved to us from the sidewalk, clinking glasses invited us in, and the aromatic fragrance of mussels steamed in herb broth beckoned our empty stomachs. We have taken the delicious dish one step further to evoke that tangy, spicy, pastis filled afternoon we remember so well.


Serves 4                                     Total Time: 30 Minutes [Prep=20 minutes, cook=10 minutes]


4 pounds mussels, cleaned and de-bearded

6 tablespoons minced shallot

6 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

2 sprigs fresh thyme

3 cups dry white wine*

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 teaspoon saffron

2 tablespoons fennel fronds, chopped

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper



1. In a large pot melt the butter over medium heat. Add the shallots, garlic, and salt to the pot. Stir frequently for 3-5 minutes until shallots and garlic are soft and translucent.

2. Add the white wine, parsley, and saffron to the mixture. Bring the sauce to a boil. Add the cleaned mussels, stirring thoroughly once before covering.

3. Let the mussels steam in the broth for 5 minutes or until almost all muscles have opened their shells. Give mussels one last stir and pick out unopened ones to discard. Add in the fennel fronds, black pepper, and fresh thyme to the mussels before serving.

4. Serve alongside thick-cut fries. If you wish to make your own, our recipe for homemade fries follows below.


Serves 4                                  Total Time: 60 Minutes [Prep=15 minutes, cook=45 minutes]


2 large Yukon or golden potatoes

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons garlic

2 teaspoons black pepper

2 tablespoons oregano

2 teaspoons minced parsley

Salt to taste



1. Rinse the potatoes then cut them into 1/4 inch thick slices. Cut these slices further into 1/4 inch thick sticks.

2. Place the pieces in a medium-sized bowl and add in olive oil, garlic, oregano, black pepper, parsley, and salt.

3. Toss all ingredients in bowl until the fries are nicely coated.

4. Place parchment paper or aluminum foil on a baking sheet and spread the fries on top of the parchment or foil. Bake for 25 minutes then turn them over onto the other side.

5. Continue baking for another 15 minutes or until the fries are crisp and golden-brown. Serve with the mussels and a chilled white wine.

*BT Tip: For a more piquant moules frites, substitute a rich tomato broth for the white wine. You can make your own broth by stewing canned tomatoes.

18 replies »

  1. I love the moules in France …they’re much smaller than the ones we get here in New Zealand but tastier. I’m going to be in France soon so you’ve reminded me to order them when there. Pip

  2. I love moules frites. On our honeymoon, my husband and I ate them all through Belgium and couldn’t get enough. I’ve never made them myself. Thanks for the recipe! I’ll have to make them at home one of these days for a special occasion to bring back memories from our trip.

    • Moules frites were one of our staples while touring the south of France and is tied to so many memories of the unflustered life we had there. Thanks for stopping by and enjoy making the moules frites at home.

  3. Ah, the memories of sopping up the leftover broth with leftover bread. The fries, the mussels, the wine, the wonder of such blessedly good food. It’s been way too long.

  4. Yum! I love moules frites! I went to Marseille a few years ago and reminisce about having some of the best shellfish and falafel of my life. Bon appetit!

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