When Jeff and I first chose to visit Marrakech I wasn’t sure what to expect. Some people sang praises about how wonderful the city is, some cursed about the lack of alcohol and bars, and some said the shopping is good, but you don’t need more than a few days there.
I’d heard about the thé à la menthe, leather goods, argan oil, tagine and the medina with the small streets and so many market stalls. I’d done my research, read the reviews and poked about for blog posts to learn as much as I could before travelling – and I found so many conflicting attitudes and ideas about what Marrakech is and isn’t.
Regardless, I came with an open mind and left with a broken heart…
We stayed in a beautiful riad in the heart of the medina, just a short walk from the famous Jemaa El Fna square.
Each day after exploring the city we drank our fill of thé à la menthe and the riad manager listened to us about what we saw and experienced each day.
We wandered through the medina until our feet were sore, we shopped in the markets and haggled till we got the prices we wanted. (I was called a “Berber woman” more than once while haggling – and while I’ve been told this is a type of compliment for being firm, I’m still pretty sure it was delivered as a backwards compliment!)
Throughout the medina we marveled at the tiny details and vibrant colours that were so distinctly Moroccan – and reminded us that we weren’t in London anymore!
We explored the historic museums and attractions (such as the Musee Dar Si Said), which you need to wander through the medina to find.
But we didn’t just stay in the medina, and when we left we were met with the contrast of the new – and oh-so-European style – city with wide streets, apartment buildings, the usual fashion retailers and Starbucks.
But even in the new city there is so much detail!
And of course – tourist attractions. Such as the beautiful Jardin Majorelle, a 12-acre botanical and artist landscape garden designed by French artist Jacques Majorelle in the 1930s. The garden was open to the public since 1947, and in the 1980s Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé bought the Jardin Majorelle and restored it.
Besides the beautiful plants, the garden is decorated with striking blues and yellows.
When it was time to go back we followed the signs…
…and walked around the large wall surrounding the medina with large archways allowing people in and out.
On this particular day when we returned we went straight to Kosybar – one of the few places in the medina that serves alcohol.
So we enjoyed our £5 bottles of Casablanca beer on the rooftop!
But this wasn’t our only rooftop adventure in the medina – not even close! In the medina, rooftop hangouts can offer an escape and privacy from the hustle and bustle of the streets below. From sun loungers and a pool on the roof of our riad (yup!) to dinners overlooking Jemaa El Fna, we were never short of opportunities for quiet breaks with incredible views.
But it wasn’t all rooftop escapes – there were plenty of little cafes tucked away in the medina, such as Le Jardin with it’s hipster vibes.
Marrakech, I love you and can’t wait to come back…