Friday, May 30, 2008

Marrakech, une ville rouge

A country resting on the Western Sahara at the foothills of
The Atlas Mountains, where 12th Century traditions and
Present Day live side by side, entertaining your senses.
Marrakech (French spelling) or Marrakesh (English)
in Morocco, or Moroc (French), seems to be the vacation
destination for the French (at least the ones I know).
Marrakech, known as the "Red City", is a maze of
terra cotta pink walls (17 shades).

Without a doubt, the highlight for me was the Souk in
the old Medina just off the Djemma El Fna
(the happening square).
It is the oldest and largest souk (marketplace) in Moroc.
If you go, be prepared to get lost in the narrow, winding
alleyways of artisan workshops, divided into 12 different
Souk Chouari - Baskets and Wood Sculpting
Souk des Bijoutiers - Jewelry..(some good bargains on gold)
Souk el Attarine - Perfumes and oils
Souk des Forgerons - Copper
Souk Haddadine - Ironwork
Souk Cherratine - Leathergoods
Souk Rahba Qdima - Sheepskin, carpets and tapistries
Souk Smata - Babouches (pointed slipper shoes)
Souk as-Smarrine - Fabrics
Souk Larzal - Wool
Souk des Teinturiers - The tanneries where they use
saffron for rich yellows, poppies for red, antimony for
black and indigo for blue.

It has it's own unique character and is beautiful in the
morning with the sunlight gleaming thru the bamboo cover.
Learn the phrase
Rali-Besef (beaucoup cher, too expensive),
as the locals are fairly aggressive people when it comes to
getting your Dirham (Moroc's currency).
This is a bargainer's paradise!
Wear comfortable shoes as you'll spend half your time
jumping out of the way of scooters, bicycles, wagons and
donkey carts all in a rush to go somewhere.

One of my favorite sections was the food market. Surprise!
I must have taken 30 photographs of spice displays. I just
could not resist the colours! The meat market was
interesting although quite smelly!

There are a few antique stalls, but I only bought a few
painted tiles, clothes and pottery pieces.
There are just some places you have to visit for yourself.
Marrakech is one of them. If I told you about the traffic
jams due to the scooters, donkey carts, horse carriages,
slow moving camels, and taxi's, the snake charmers in
the square, the public baths for men to wash their feet,
hands, and face before entering the Koutoubia Mosque,
and the huge storks that watch over it all,
you wouldn't believe me. Go see for yourself.
It's entertainment at its best !
My favorite food was the melaoui (crepes) made from
semolina and the orange slices dusted with fresh, oh so
fresh, cinnamon. A wonderful combination!
Now, with all that being said, mind you, Morocco is still
a Third World country.
They continue to have Human Rights issues and gender
inequalities. The illiteracy rate hovers around 50% and
even though compulsory education was introduced in
the 60's, many rural children still do not attend school.
There are sections of town whose only use is to
house garbage, skinny stray cats roam the streets, and
the police are corrupt. (I have first hand knowledge of
that one).
Just didn't want to over romanticize the place.
For me, these were realities that were sometimes
difficult to ignore and saddened me.
It was always nice to return to our resort hotel.
It is still a beautiful country, rich in tradition and
I am thankful that I had the opportunity to see it.
In a future post I'll take you to Essaouira, on the
Atlantic coast and thru the Ourika Valley.
Hope you enjoy the photo's!


Alice W. said...

Looks amazing! Great photos!

LiLi M. said...

Hi! I just found your blog. I love your pictures of Marrakech. What pretty colors! Since a lot of people from Morocco live here, they introduced their food to us and I love it. Those smells and those combinations for instance of lemon and mint or cinnamom and meat. The moroccan kitchen has such unexpected lovely flavours I can even smell that from your pictures, thanks for sharing, I will be back to see the other Morrocan town too. Have a nice sunday!

Marie Louise said...

Wow - great photos. I have been to Marrakech, many years ago. I was there working on a fashion shoot and it happened to be in December. We all did our Holiday shopping there and the guy I was with spoke Arabic so I got the best deals on everything. It has been many years but your gorgeous photos brought it all back to me. It is exactly as I remember.

rochambeau said...

Thank you for all of this. I love the things from Morocco and the people very much. Come by way of Fifi.

Have a nice night!

Kathy said...

What a wonderful "trip" you've afforded us from our armchairs! I've always wanted to visit there after my quarterly France travels, but plans have always changed last minute. I do hope to get there w/in a year or so....Thanks for sharing this with us!!!!--

Country French Antiques said...

Thanks ladies for the comments.
It is indeed an interesting place.
Glad you enjoyed the photos.

Vie Chaotique said...


Elisa Day said...

I love these pictures! And I love your blog!

Julian said...

Congratulations for this beautiful blog. Pictures are amazing and also the text graphics.