My Marrakech travelogue

It took me a while to figure out how to share my recent trip to Morocco. I didn’t know if I wanted to share a bits and pieces of the entire trip or a more detailed travelogue with addresses and tips. I chose the later because many of you asked me to share details when I posted snaps and videos on my Instagram stories. This post will be focusing on the first 5 days of our trip, spent mainly in Marrakech and Essaouira. A second post will later highlight our road trip through the Berber country, to and back from the Sahara Desert, with tips and travel booking information because these questions were asked a lot.

Part I, Marrakech.

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We stayed at this airbnb riad, nestled in a quiet cul-de-sac, a minute-walk away from the bustling Jemâa El Fna Place. If you ever visit Marrakech, this is where you’ll spend most of your time : from the gigantic souk, divided by trade, to the place itself, the spectacles, the vendors, the cobras and monkeys, the street sellers… It’s quite a show in itself.

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Our riad was A M A Z I N G. Decorated with taste by Pablo, our host, the riad offers 4 bedrooms and spacious common areas – plus a fabulous terrace overlooking Jemâa El Fna place. Brahim, the house boss, made our stay as comfortable and memorable as possible – organizing a day trip to Essaouira with 3 private van chauffeurs or a small, intimate live-music and belly dance dinner party at our riad one night for our party of 12 travelers. We could not have had a better experience.

Marrakech Travel Guide | French By Design
Essaouira, a two-and-a-half-hour drive away from Marrakech. If you like fresh seafood and to be by the sea, this blue and white coastal town is the place to be! 

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We took a day to go visit Essaouira, a coastal blue town full of charm, but it’s on our way there that we found the tree-climbing goats [I had to take a picture, I had to!] or stopped at an all-women-owned organ oil small cooperative to learn about organ oil making and purchase a few argan-oil products.

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We also spent a day at the spa, enjoying a full hammam treatment and a relaxing massage while sipping verbena. I highly recommend Farnatchi spa; the ladies there are hospitable and very caring. It’s also on the same street as the Maison de la Photographie, a little gem of a museum hidden in a beautiful old riad with an impressive collection of black and white pictures and portraits taken in Marrakech and Morocco.

Marrakech Travel Guide | French By Design

Marrakech Travel Guide | French By Design
Just wandering the streets of Marrakech is a feast to the eye. The colors!

Marrakech Travel Guide | French By Design

If you have time, go visit the Jardin Majorelle, dedicated to Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé, and the newly opened Yves Saint Laurent museum nearby — get your combo tickets at the museum line, for an obscure reason, the Majorelle garden line tends to be loonnngg, but everyone goes to the long line. The garden is simply exquisite, very peaceful and inspiring. Do not miss the Berber Museum within Majorelle, it is a pure work of art! Really (really) worth it.

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As far as food, I recommend trying La Terrasse des Épices for dinner [loved the ambiance at night in their string-light filled patio, and the food was delicious!], Le Café des Épices for their house burger, and Nomad, literally across the Café des Épices. For a more Moroccan traditional experience, I recommend the sumptuous Dar Marjana – but try to reserve in advance, it’s a hot spot in town, and considered one of the top 3 restaurants by locals!

Marrakech Travel Guide | French By Design
Nomad, Marrakech

Marrakech is a magic city, but it’s the people of Marrakech, the Marrakchi, that made our trip memorable. I have so many silly stories of interaction with vendors or souk shop owners – we still giggle about it within the traveling group members. People are real, they are funny, they are authentic and if trust is established, they bend over backwards to make your day. As soon as you connect, even negotiating is a fun part of the process – our friend Nate had to arm wrestle to get the price of a Turkish towel down! We had a good laugh with the vendors!

As my next post will be more about our road trip to and back from the Sahara, you’ll quickly realize that hospitality and authenticity is not only a Marrakchi trait. As we progressed into the berber country, we fell in love with the culture, the food, the beauty of the land but, above all, the people.

Marrakech Travel Guide | French By Design

Have you been to Marrakech? What other addresses/spots do you recommend?

 

Photography French By Design ©

 

Comments

19 thoughts on “My Marrakech travelogue

  1. Thank you so much for this article ! i’m going back to Marrakech for a yoga/meditation class in March and will make sure to visit a few suggestions you gave !

    1. Ah, take me with you! :-) Let me know what you think of my rec’s when you’re back. Have a lovely trip, @Confitures!

  2. Thanks for the recommendations! Everything looks beautiful, we are planning to go to Morocco in May with our 3 kids… I was just wondering whether we could plan everything on our own and do everything more or less alone or whether we should go with a type of organized group… What would you say? Are the kids welcome everywhere?
    Would love to hear from yo!

    1. While vacationing in Marrakech, you don’t need to pre-organize much – except airport to accommodation pick ups, ahead of arrival so a chauffeur will be waiting for you at airport and safely take you to your residence. We set this up with our host before arrival. Around the souk, people are used to tourists, so outside of the hard-sell tactics, nothing to worry about. Ask your host or hotel maybe for a guide for a couple of hours if you prefer until you get the feel of the souk, then go explore! Past midnight, we were still on the tiny souk streets and never felt unsafe, plus the royal palace is in that zone, so there are a lot of police and guards, although we never had to see them in action :-)
      To go outside of the city, book a van driver and then you’re all set, the driver will give you tips and recs about your day trip and meet you at the pick up point – For Essaouira, he stopped us for a breakfast break, the women-owned argan oil coop, then on the way back from Essaouira to Marrakech, we stopped at a local organic winery for wine testing. To go further away from Marrakech, I do recommend booking a trip with a local agency. I will share this info on the next post [Berber country and Sahara.] Hope this helps @Patricia!

  3. Merci pour ce bout de voyage avec toi, je vais à Marrakech en février.
    Je retournerai errer dans la paix chlorophilée du jardin Majorelle et j’ai noté les quelques adresses où l’on mange bien, je pense tester le café des épices !

    As tu des bons plans pour un joli sac fait main, et des bijoux ?

    Tes photos sont superbes :) comme le bon goût des choses que tu as, bravo !!

    1. Non, pas d’adresse spécifique pour les sacs et les bijoux, mais le souk regorge de petites boutiques, et à l’intérieur, ce sont de vraies cavernes d’Ali Baba. Inès y a trouvé de magnifiques boucles d’oreilles longues en onyx et argent. Pour les sacs, c’est pareil — attention aux contrefaçons, mais ça, tu savais…
      Bon séjour, @Bibi!

  4. I loved Marrakech. I went to a hammam in the suburbs–all moms and little kids, very adorable ambiance. I came out with baby-soft skin.
    I don’t think you can eat badly there. I never stopped, even street food, no problem, all delicious. However, I must say that one of the best. and most elegant restaurants I tried was Dar Cherifa, where, as a solo female traveler, I was treated with as much respect as any of the couples and groups (in several decades of travel, I can assure you that this is RARELY the case). Plus, the food was so good I almost cried.

  5. Good grief, Si, I pinned a bunch of your gorgeous photos and went merrily on my way…without thanking you for your lovely, informative post. So thank you for it all, for transporting me to a location I’m not likely to visit anytime soon. Cheers, Ardith

    1. Wep! I can finally post a reply to your comment! I was yelling on top of my lungs in dark-web land! Hooray!
      Thank you so much @Ardith for your kind words! They warm my heart.

  6. I love Marrakech!

    Worth seeing:
    – The Secret Garden
    – La Famille (restaurant)

    Both very central and lovely!

    Welcome back and thank you for sharing the goat hug photo – it made my day <3

  7. It looks fantastic! I just can’t get over the colors! And your imagery is absolutely stunning…breathtaking. I must definitely visit Marrakech one day, unfortunately it won’t be soon enough! So glad that you had such a great time!

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