Following my two previous blog posts, I wanted to finish this series about Marrakesh with a list of things I like over there. It was my third trip there, so I start to get my head around the city and went back to some my favourite shops but also discovered new places.
For the first time though, I rented a car as my friend had no spare time for me. She warned me about the anarchy on the road, that I should be extra careful of small motorbikes, she said “hold tight when you drive” and “pay attention to how their upper body are leaning and not where their head is looking towards to”. And indeed driving in Marrakesh is an experience in itself: I wish I could have taken photos when I was driving (but that would have be suicidal for me!) to describe you what you see in the middle of the road: four people seating on a tiny motorcycle (most of the time the back passengers have no helmets…), pedestrians, overloaded cartwheels led by donkeys, carriages, cyclists, big trucks and of course everyone is driving fast, honking, crossing in front of you when you don’t expect it, not always stopping at the red light…basically you need to keep your eyes wide open and constantly scanning every bit of the road! Yes all of this sounds scary, and of course I did get lost, had a few good sweats, however in this complete chaos I did manage to get around quite smoothly without freaking out!
Anyway, enough of the crazy streets, as all the Moroccan people I met were really nice, welcoming and very helpful. The Medina is quite an experience too as the tiny streets are really bustling and not just with tourists. Make sure you stay on the right side! As much as I knew this I almost got run over by a motorcyclist but was saved last minute by someone walking towards me who saw what was going to happen, just grabbed me and push me back on the side…phew!
My ideal stay is 4 days but there is so much you can do…make sure you go with an empty suitcase if you like ceramics like I do and pack for olive and argan oil, preserved lemons, olives and last but not least Moroccan sweets!
33 Rue Majorelle: beautiful concept store with a selection of good quality products (although a bit pricey…)
Zwin Zwin: bags, clutches and pouches heaven! The shop relocated from Place des Ferblantiers to Riad Zitoun Lakdim in Derb Jdid N°1 (just a 5 minute walk from the square which was being renovated when I was there last month).
Souk Cherifia: plenty of tiny shops where you can find lost creations made by young designers.
Hand made embroidered linens: Al Kawtar Marrakech social workshop which has a good range of table linens, bread bags, tea pot cover, tea towels, etc. All of them are handmade in the shop with traditional embroidery. If you want to know more about the association and see more photos of their linens, check my previous post here.
Pâtisserie des Princes: don’t be put off by all the bees flying around all the cakes in the display windows, this is where I buy my Moroccan sweets all the time. I love their cornes de gazelle!
If you are into sewing, you can get great and very cheap bits and bobs like silk threads, silk embroidered buttons, tassels, stripes, etc. Head to the area called Semmarine, Souk Kchachbia (after the Terrasse des Epices), shop n°43 “Chez Med”, always full of locals.
Last but not least, I have been buying my ceramics made in Fez at the shop Caverne d’Ali Baba, Fhal Chidmi n°17 (A) in El Mouassine (just after the Fnaque Berbère bookshop, on the left side of the street).
A tourist guide book to buy (only in French for now) with lots of good tips and places: le Guide des Gazelles.
Things to see/do
Le Jardin Marjorelle: in every guide yes, but a nice little oasis and I love that blue colour…
Maison de la Photographie: a lovely museum telling the story of Marrakesh in a riad renovated with clean and simple lines. Make sure you stop for lunch to eat a Tajine on the rooftop terrace: they are really tasty and the view is great!
Take a stroll in the gardens of the Palace Hotel La Mamounia and sip a mint tea at the garden café or purchase a Spa pass for the day to enjoy the swimming pool and the fitness pavilion.
You could also go to the Beldi Country Club, just outside of town to spend the day by the pool and lunching. They also have a Spa and some nice shops selling local products like the traditional tea glasses and ceramics all made on site and beautiful hand made embroidered linens.
Another option could be to treat yourself with a Hammam at Les Bains de Marrakesh.
Another of discovering the Moroccan culture if you are foodie is actually to take part to an organic cooking class with the Chef Tarik. He will take you outside the city centre to a local village in the middle of olive groves where he runs an organic farm. Read more in my previous post here.
Where to stay
in the Medina
Riad Bindoo: very colourful with a different themes for each room, this Riad is ideally located in the vibrant area of Babdoukala.
Riad Lyla: renovated following traditional Moroccan art and craft with abondant vegetation make this Riad a little quiet Eden close to the Jemaa elfna square.
outside the city centre
Beldi Country Club – also a good option to spend the day outside the medina.
Kasbah Beldi – 50km outside Marrakesh after the dam. Beautiful scenery over the Atlas mountains and the lake Lalla Takerkoust. Rooms nicely done. They often host yoga workshops. Two huge Pistachio trees aged over 300 years. Peaceful retreat next to a small village. This is where you can see the women working on their embroidery work.
Hope you enjoyed my list and do not hesitate if you have any questions or alternatively want to share your experience in Marrakesh.
Last but not least who would be interested to take part with me to some exclusive photography and local foodie experience?