Longtime friend of Oliver’s Travels, Alicia, used to work as our French property specialist. In spite of her passion for all things French, she has always had a soft spot for wonderful Marrakech and goes there often. We spoke to her as part of our Team Travels series of blogs to get the lowdown on this heady, vibrant Moroccan wonderland.
Where did you find the best markets and shopping?
In a souk within a wall known as Jemaa el-Fnaa. It’s pretty hectic but it’s got all the best spices, jewellery and a lot more. There is a food market in the middle which is pretty cheap and nice for a quick bite to eat! Many of the stallholders will hassle you, but I generally just pick one that seems nice and most of the time they’re alright. The fresh orange juice stalls are insane here, and well worth a look!
A couple of tips: Do not take photos of the monkeys or the teeth (you’ll see tables full of teeth!). You’ll get charged for it. And also don’t let the nice women with henna fool you, if they can grab your hand they will try and give you a henna tattoo and charge you way too much!
If you walk into the Square and pass the food stalls on your right you will see Café de France on your right. This place has a great view and a great top terrace for having some mint tea. They do not serve alcohol!
Nearby you’ll see an entrance to the covered part of the market where you’ll find jewellery, bags, spices, shoes and loads more. This market really has everything you need and the deeper you go the better the quality (always offer at least half of the price when haggling). You will encounter little boys asking you where you are going and offering to show you the way and they will ask for money at the end, so either don’t accept their offer or make sure you give them a little something. When I’m out at night I prefer having a young guide like this so that I won’t get lost (which is very easy to do).
If you’re looking for a nice, haggle-free shop, head to Sissi Morocco. It’s full of cushions, bags and other assorted accessories. For a smarter shopping area, try Souk Cherifa. There’s also Atika, which is a really good shoe shop outside of the Medina quarter. Everyone knows where it is, and it’s close to the Yves Saint Laurent gardens so you could do both in one day.
Another street that I really enjoyed I found to the right of Café de France. It was way less hectic than the walk from Jemaa el-Fna to the Bahia Palace. Here you will find really sweet cafés, shops and spas. I wandered up and down this quite a bit, as it’s quite quiet compared to the left side of the square.
How about your favourite food and drink spots?
Here are a few of my highlights!
- The Grand Cafe de la Poste is very nice, very French and you can order really nice wine.
- Jad Mahal is really fun – they have belly dancers and live singers. It gets going quite late, so don’t turn up too early as it will be deserted.
- The Comptoir is my favourite restaurant in Marrakech. It’s quite small and intimate but has a bar upstairs that turns into a sort of little club. The food is really good and you get a belly dancing show at 11 if I’m remembering correctly.
- Kosybar is a nice little place that often has live music.
- The Pearl is a really cool rooftop bar for drinks before heading out!
- The Kechmara Bar is a cocktail bar at night and a café in the day.
- Finally, Le Jardin is perfect for a lunch in the Medina quarter!
What are the best places to visit?
- The Jardin Majorelle is so beautiful, so amazing, and very cooling when it’s too hot. There’s a really cute café at the end where you can have a mint tea or juice.
- The Mosque is always a very good place to visit.
- Bahia Palace is also really beautiful for a gentle walk.
- La Mamounia is the place to go if you want to treat yourself to a day or weekend Spa Pass.
- Nikki Beach is always fun to go to for lunch, party or sunbathe, though it’s quite expensive even for just sun loungers.
- La Plage Rouge is similar to Nikki Beach, but a bit more relaxed.
Both of these get louder and louder the later it gets!
One last thing: taxis. The official price for a taxi from the airport to The Djemaa el-Fna and most of locations around the city is 70 Dirham during the day and 150 Dirham at night. However, the taxi drivers will ask you for much more. Also there are two types of taxis; Petit taxis (little taxis) can only sit three people, and the driver really won’t like it if you try and fit any more passengers in. Always decide a price before getting in the taxi.
Has Alicia inspired you to head to Morocco? Check out our selection of Moroccan villas.