City Walls

Marrakech, Morocco is a wonderful mix of Arabic culture and African vibrancy. Not a very large city it is easy and relatively safe to just wander around and soak up the atmosphere. Surrounded on three sides by the Atlas mountains, though flat, Marrakech is beautiful. This is the city of royal power with the King spending time at his palace located near the city walls on the south side of the city (near the “medina” – the “old city”).

La Koutubia (Mosque)

Located opposite the main square of Place Jemaa El Fna (pronounced “Jemma Elfna”), La Koutubia is largely a ruin (though still a large, working, mosque) that defines the centre of the city and can pretty much be spotted from anywhere you are. Jemma El Fna is always a site of activity with large crowds around the various entertainers – From snake charmers to storytellers. At night the “Night Market” is probably the best bargain in town for dinner though be aware that it is also a target for a lot of hassle for tourists to get you to visit their stalls…A rule of thumb is that if they are pestering you hard to go to their stall then they are overpriced, go to the smaller stalls closer to the souk.

Night Market at Place Jemaa El Fna

The “souks” (“markets”) are located leading out from Jemaa El Fna on the north side. It is easy to get lost here but people will generally be helpful if you ask for directions (everyone knows where Jemaa El Fna is). As far as haggling is concerned, offer a low price to start with (don't ask them for a price if you can at all avoid it) then begin the negotiation. It might be a good idea before you do this to see what the prices are in the “Ensemble Artisanal” first as these are all set by the government so you should not be paying any more than this in the souks (mind you, we found the prices here were quite good and ended up buying a few things particularly since we were left alone and able to wander around to view what was being sold rather than the continuous hassle of the souks).

The Souks

A common site to visit is the tanneries but be aware it is VERY smelly (the reason why you may be offered a sprig of mint when you arrive to put under your nose) and quite difficult to find (small children will offer to “show you around” but be aware they will want money…).

 Camels in the Palmeraie

The Palmeraie is an oasis on the north-east side of town where you can find the Toureg (nomads of the desert) offering camel rides. If you want a camel ride, ask a taxi driver to take you there or arrange one through the tourism board (or your hotel).

The Palmeraie is also the site for a number of luxury houses, hotels and a golf course.

Theatre Royal

There is also a lot of modern things in the city including the wonderful Theatre Royal which is also an opera house.

Getting Around

It is easy enough to get around as everything is pretty much within walking distance but there are also bus routes throughout the city (look for “gare rotiere” if you are looking for a bus station) and also taxis which generally operate with a meter (though I understand you can negotiate fares for longer distances – note that tipping is generally not required for taxis).

There is a double-decker tourist bus that offers two routes: “Tour Historique” (a general tour of the city, new and old) and “Tour Oasis” (basically visiting the Palmeraie area of the city) with buses running throughout the day with recorded commentary on a hop-on hop-off basis (145 dh per adult, 75 dh for a child, for a 24 hour ticket). Note that the tour bus does not visit a lot of the medina and the souks as these areas are generally full of smaller roads…

“Calèches” are horse-drawn carriages that generally congregate around the south-west end of Jemaa El Fna and supposedly operate on a fixed-fare basis (posted in each carriage) though you may need to haggle to get this price…It is a good idea to agree to a price before beginning your trip.

Where we Stayed

Eden Andalou

We stayed in a “resort” about 15 minutes outside of Marrakech, Eden Andalou which is quite pleasant and relaxing if you do not want to be in the city all of the time. It has wonderful views of the Atlas Mountains.

Atlas Mountains from the Hotel

Service is quite good though, as would be expected, prices are not great. Staff generally speak French a lot better than English.

Generally the breakfast buffet is included with your room price and is actually quite good - A lot of fresh fruit (the fresh orange juice is simply wonderful as is the, always empty, mint tea). The dinner buffet is also quite good – particularly the fairly few Moroccan dishes. Though the “Atlas” restaurant serves the buffet dinners and breakfasts the Fez restaurant is a traditional Moraccan restaurant with live music and is MUCH prefable (and not much more expensive than the buffet). Note that the Fez restaurant does get a bit noisy as it is beside the bar which, at night, tends to do quite loud karaoke.

Scrabble Playing Near the Pool