Marrakech

  

I drank bottled water in Marrakech. Don't stop reading! The locals we saw all used Sidi Ali, even at home, or when boiling mint tea. I drank tap water first, which my Moroccan friends specifically said not to do, since they only had bottled water growing up. I'm very sick right now. I'm not sure it's related, although sometimes when I wash my hands the faucet smells like sewage. Other than that, Marrakech is a wonderful place. Vegetable waste in the souks is bagged for animal feed. The tourist boom led to planting grass and clear-cutting fields, which ravaged the water table, but ground water, like tides, flows west to east, and winds carry moisture from Marrakech's trees over the Sahara, enabling forest expansion. The king is even trying to create a carbon neutral destination in Ouarzazate, replanting palm trees cleared for hotels.

Moroccan people are really talkative and friendly. Four old women patted me on the head for helping them with doors or their groceries. Nobody bothered us at Place Jemaa el Fna. There are more- and cleaner- public restrooms and more reliable wi-fi hotspots than in Paris. The people are welcoming and nice. Our driver, Yasim, who spends his weekends at La Mamounia and took us to places where we were the only tourists, thoughtfully bought us a couple coffees when we were cold and tired from exploring in the rain. Here is everywhere we went in Marrakech, with a few recommendations on where to stay.

   
    



Marrakech

All the places we visited (click titles for links)



 STAY



Riad Mena

Gorgeous light-filled riad near Jemaa el Fna with permaculture farm in the Ourika Valley, roof terrace, and natural pool.

Riad Goloboy

This pop art hostel features a rooftop hot tub, Majorelle blue terrace overlooking la Koutoubia, and unobstructed views of the Atlas.


Jnane Tamsna

I used to visit cities without ever booking a hotel, staying with local families and doing chores to earn my keep. Jnane Tamsna makes you feel like you're staying in a chic family home without having to lift a finger. The owner, Meryanne, knows everybody, and she and her husband refused to plant grass or cut down palm trees in the construction. Well-equipped to cater celiacs.

Villa K


Stunning Modernist ecolodge in the small Berber village of Tagadert. Eat under the stars and meet shepherds returning with their flocks in the High Atlas.

La Maison 


Three bedroom house in the Eastern part of the Medina offering homecooked meals (like bessara bean veloute with beetroot guacamole, yogurt and amlou, and strawberry mint tea), indoor and outdoor showers, flea market finds, handmade goods, and industrial decor. You can even sleep outside on the roof terrace- my top pick for staying in Marrakech.


EAT



Nomad

Reserve a spot on the roof to watch the sunset. Fresh vegetarian and vegan options, including delicious sorbets and ice creams from Panna.

Cafe Clock

Hear traditional storytellers and take calligraphy or oud classes while enjoying vegan almond and date milkshakes. Cooking classes, live music, and vegan options available. Like the famous Amal Centre, Cafe Clock employs, supports, and trains local women.

Le Jardin

Hidden away in a lush garden, it's a nice, touristy favorite among Parisians. Go for the setting, smoothies, and veggie dishes; vegans, ask ahead of time to hold the cheese, which comes on all salads. Be sure to hold the tortoises and feed them lettuce!

Earth Cafe

Two farm to table locations with several gluten-free options. The first 100% vegetarian / vegan restaurant in Marrakech, one location also serves meat.


Le Salama

Expensive but lovely vegetarian and gluten-free restaurant with 360 panoramic views of Marrakech near Place Jemaa el Fna.

Outside Marrakech

La Pause, Terre des Etoiles, Beldi Country Club, Kasbah Bab Ourika, Scarabeo, Peacock Pavilions, and Kasbah Tamadot cater to gluten-free guests.

 VISIT



David Bloch Gallery

Beautiful contemporary art space with intricate metal sculptures and diverse solo shows.

Douiria derb el hammam

A recently restored former apartment for guests of the Saadian era, now a decorative arts museum and example of traditional architecture.

YSL Jardin Majorelle

Touristy but worth it, Jardin Majorelle is where YSL's ashes are scattered. The ponds, cacti, and Majorelle blue former home equal Instagram gold.

Maison de la Photographie

Go for the architecture, panoramic views on the terrace, and gluten-free refreshments served by kind local women.

Saadian Tombs

Sealed up for centuries, the family mausoleum is a must-see for elaborate steles, carvings, and tilework.

El Fenn

If you can't stay at this beautiful, friendly hotel- it books up fast- go for a film, cocktails on the terrace, live music in the restaurant, or a dip in the rooftop pools.

Bahia Palace

Built by a former slave who rose precipitously to power, the harem's concubine rooms and flowering garden are as chilling and ornate as Versailles. The vizier was so cruel, his harem couldn't wait to ransack the palace at his death.

Pour les amateurs de "street food", à côté de la place Jemaa El Fna vous pourrez manger une "tanjia", ce plat traditionnel qui se trouve rarement dans les restaurants. Tip: Don't buy argan oil unless it's in a dark bottle. Plastic or clear glass containers can hold fakes or impure oils with added vegetable oils and silicones. Make sure the bottle has the cooperative name on it!

Paris to Go

2 comments:

  1. Hi Ariana, I have been living in Morocco since 2000 (formerly from Paris, but I lived in the US ten years). I must say, I love your picks, for instance the Douiria, Cafe Clock, and the Airbnbs, they reflect your unique style and will give readers an authentic taste of Marrakesh. Your photos and writing are always enjoyable, it's like reading a cool girl's diary. Keep up the good work.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Céline! Thank you very much! How cool is Cafe Clock? I worried because everything with gluten free options was straight out of Lonely Planet haha. But my Moroccan friends said- maybe you agree- it's hard to find non-touristy spots in Marrakech. For their families, the going out culture didn't really exist. That was years ago though, and they are perhaps not representative of Moroccans as a whole.

      Delete