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.
We stayed at a lovely 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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Just wandering the streets of Marrakech is a feast to the eye. The colors!
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.
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 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.
Have you been to Marrakech? What other addresses/spots do you recommend?
Photography French By Design ©