Marrakech in Three Days
Arrival – 1st evening: In the evening you can go with Lucien for dinner in the restaurant “La Cantine des Gazelles” also heated if necessary (about 7-9 euro menu à la carte, delicious and clean food at best price), then tour of the Place Jemaa el Fnaa, exchange of money in Hotel Ali (best course in Marrakech, Open 24 hours), back in our riad, maybe drink a tea on the terrace.
After breakfast on foot in approx. 15 minutes to the Jemaa el Fna, then to the north- west souks to the Dar Cherifa, a sher well-looked-after riad from the 17th century, cultural center away from mass tourism with a very genuine atmosphere. Go to the roof terrace and drink a tea or spice coffee at the bottom of the patio and read the chapter “Over the Roofs of Marrakech” from Elias Canetti’s book “The Voices of Marrakech” and perhaps a fairy tale (the milk swindler and the monkey). You find it in he library in my riad.
Then through the streets of the Funduks (caravanseries, very interesting, a lot of atmosphere, partly still original, partly with interesting handicraft), Fontaine Mouassine, to the open air restaurant of Abdelhay near the mosque Ben Youssuf where you have a tasting menu with nice little things for 6 Euro gets. Then back to Jemaa el Fna. Onn the way stop on the spices place Rhaba Khedima where you can have a cup of tea with a view of the square on the small terrace of the “Café des Epices”. One you arrive at Jemaa el Fna drink an orange juice at stand 35, briefly cross over to the venerable Kotubiamoschee (you can not enter, but the gardens behind it are very beautiful and in the winter months there should be oranges at the little trees).
Back to our riad, late afternoon you may visit the neighborhood hammam, best with our dear Arab neighbor Reda, who can also regulate this for female guests (strict sex separation!) Let you have a great soap massage and introduce into the procedures. You should calculate 100 Dirham incl. Admission. Take your swimsuit with you (never naked), bring your towel. Black olive soap, scrubbing glove and ladle will be provided for you.
In the evening, take the bus number 1 to Guiliz, the new City. Leave the bus after the square du 16 Novembre (Mac Donalds) in Front of the Carree Eden, a modern shoipping Center, cross Boulevard, and turn into the first street. After 150m you will find the great fish restaurant “Al Bahria”. Super Paella, Super Fritture Royale for about 5 Euros is enough for 2, supplements inclusive or you are looking for the fish at the counter, and let it grill. This is also very cheap and very fresh – a real insider tip. Nearby there is also the beer garden from the colonial times (Lucien knows), cheap beer among gum trees, only Moroccans, no tourists. Then best with taxi (about 4 euro) back home or intermediate stop at the place.
In the morning go to the the Saadien tombs. Be there at 8.55, because otherwise too many people are in line and you may loose one hour in the queue. This is the “Taj Mahal” of Marrakech, about 25 minutes walk from our riad on foot. Then perhaps in the Berber Pharmcy in Bab Aganaou, where a perfectly English speaking Moroccan Pharmacist will explain everything about spices, agan oil and Arabic traditional medicine. Very interesting, everything to smell, feel and try. All products are certified organic and high quality, but also expensive. No buying force. Here you should not buy cooking agan oil, too expensive and also no saffron. The other things, especially the ointments, creams and aromatic or massage oil and fragrances are excellent and worth their money.
Afterwards in the El Badi Palace, (Storkpalace) once the largest palace complex of the Mahgreb, seat of the Sultan Ahmed the Magnificent. There, possibly in front of the former throne pavilion read the fairytale of the elephant “The gift of the Sultan”, which could have played there quite possibly. In the rear left corner of the Court is a short animated film to see, which gives a perfect impression of the former beauty.
Then continue through the Place Ferblantier (Brass Forge) and the spice Market (Mellah, former Ghetto), where you get fresh local spices at the local spice merchants. Our Spice Merchant of confidence will give you the best spices at the price for locals . And he can explain everything in english. Continue just opposite the exit of the Mellah to the Bahia Palace (entrance 1 euro), seeable plant with beautiful rooms and cedar wood ceilings and harem (Entrance fee 1 euro).
Then take the Rue Zitoun, turn right to the very interesting Dar Si Said Museum (entrance 1 €). The splendor on the first floor are the most beautiful of Marrakech, the garden with well is also very worth seeing and you get a good impression as the rich lived there. It ewas the first Museum of the town of Marrakech. There are only a few tourists, (just do not go to the the Bahia-Palais if too many tourist groups around there). Then continue to Jemaa el Fna in 5 minutes. There, in a small hidden side street near the Café de France the lamb shops “restaurants”. The lamb that is baked in the mud stoves in the ground (Mechoui) is an absolute favorite of the Moroccans, best lamb ever !! Secret tip, daily except fridays. Lucien knows it. Open the lids of the stoves and take pictures down to where the lambs went to spits. Buy yourself a kilo of lamb meat, which you get on a tray with bread and eat it right in the niche behind the stove or let it be brought to a nearby restaurant and order a tea. The people at the sales counters will organize all for you. You pay at the shop after meal. An archaic dining experience, especially since these mud stoves have been heated daily for more than 800 years.
Then take a trip to Rue Darbachi, the busiest street that leads to the most popular Ben Saleh district. After about 150 m, after a small place with restaurants on the right side you find a small juice shop where you get the best fruit pulp mix in Morocco for 50 cents, always freshly made, take “Panaché” (mixed in layers in the glass).
Then go back to our riad, this time simply follow rue Darbachi towards the Ben Salah Mosque, then turn left into Rue Azbezt. Follow the sign to the Musée de la Boucherouite (closed on Sundays) in the same block of houses where we live. The museum is an absolute secret tip. Here, in one of the most beautiful renovated Riads in Marrakech, you will discover very special “Rugs”, which are actually abstract art, discovered and collected by a very interesting Frenchman (Patrick) who will tell you a lot of interesting facts when you tell him that you are friends of mine. The house and the carpets are unique, have nothing to do with the carpets you can buy on the bazaar, is real art by women from the high atlas. On the beautiful roof terrace you can have a coffee or tea or taste Habibas wonderful applecake. Then go back to the riad, maybe Lucien cooks something and you eat on the roof terrace (pleaseorder before).
Best morning 8 clock !!! By taxi (by bus is cumbersome) to the Jardin Majorelle, the second most beautiful garden of Marrakech in the New city, (unfortunately expensive entrance about 7 euros), with fantastic succulents and cactuses and the villa and grave of Ives Saint Laurent and one small but fine Berber-Museum. The garden is a tourist “must” therefore from 9 clock terribly overcrowded, especially in the high seasons.
From there either by taxi or on foot (about 15 minutes) to the northern city gate, Bab Doukala. Go through the city gate and then follow always straight the Rue du Bab Doukala, very busy typical absolutely untouristic shopping street in about 15 minutes to the Mederse Ben Youssuf, the most beautiful coranic school of Marrakech. An absolute must! Entrance fee 2 euros. Possibly the Musee de Marrakech, an interesting stylishly renovated palace with huge covered courtyard, hammam and interesting exhibitions.
From there in 5 minutes to the highly interesting “Musé de la Photographie”, a small but fine private museum, also led by a friend of mine, also named Patrick, who can also explain a lot. Very interesting selection of historical photos, especially of people and souks and landscapes, great roof terrace where you can also have magnificent views over Marrakech. You can eat a tajine or drink tea there. (If you want lunch, you can go there first from the Bab Doukala and then visit the Mederse and the museum on the way back).
ATTENTION !!!: do not trust anybody in this area who wants to show you the tanneries – “les Tanneurs” – free of charge. The area is unclear and you hardly find out anymore and if you do not buy anything in the much expensive leather stores, you will pass through “by chance”, while getting out of the tannery, you will be in trouble. There is only unnecessary trouble and time loss. Hands off!!!
Afternoon free for strolls over the souks, in the evening back to the riad.
Alternatively to the Jardin Majorelle, I recommend the Anima-Garden (www.anima-garden.com) by André Heller, a bit out of the way, but excellent and free to reach by shuttle bus from Parking La Koutoubia (behind the Koutoubia Mosque). Departures 9:30 • 11:30 • 14:30 • 16:30) The garden has not yet overflowed and a wonderful rest from the hustle and bustle of the city.
All informations to the best of my knowledge, but without engagement.
Have fun in Marrakech!