Contribution by: Nivine Maktabi
Many find Morocco an exotic, colorful, and a lively place to visit… And being fascinated about exotic places, Morocco was definitely on my “to do list”. My journey in the kingdom was loaded with discoveries, new sceneries, and new taste buds.
With its colorful, dynamic markets and extraordinary wealth of handicrafts, it is one the most attractive cities in Morocco in my opinion. The highest point of picturesque splendor is the daily folklore celebration centered on Jemaa el Fna, the veritable heart of the city. Jemaa el Fna is near the Bahia Palace, the Royal Palace, & the toms of the Sultans of the Saadi dynasty …the city has successfully preserved the pure mediaeval structure of the period, where everything is in terracotta color and kept its heritage of folklore in all its fascinatingly original richness. We stayed in a “maison d’hotes” called Al Riadnou, surrounded with a park facing the Atlas Mountain. The boutique hotel is composed of 8 suites with a combination of unique oriental decoration and an up-to-date comfort. For dinner, we were served a traditional home cooked dish called Madfouneh. It looked like a big pie of chicken covered with vermicelli and powder sugar with nuts on top.
Among the main hotels to visit or stay in are with no doubt, Mamounia, Amanjena & Royal Mansour where we had a special tour in and tasted their gastronomic restaurants. Only recently the Four Seasons Hotel resort was launched couple of month ago.
Close to our Riad was the Nectarome, an organic-aromatic garden (Le Jardin Bio-aromatic de l’Ourika) in a valley near Marrakech and the high Atlas mountains. It was founded by a team comprising a doctor specialized in the study of essential oils, a doctor in pharmacy and a cosmetic formulator, trained in the field of aromatherapy. Nectarome combines the wisdom of ancient Moroccan traditions with the knowledge of modern aromatherapy and phytotherapy.
I got the chance to meet the founder of this company Dr. Belkamel who gave us an explanatory tour of all the plants and the oil they extract from and the purpose and use of each product. The tour ended with a relaxing warm water and salt bath in an extraordinary foot basin digged into the soil while serving us green tea. The view and the feeling were out of the world.
Fascinated about carpets and all hand knotted products, I couldn’t leave the country without checking, feeling and touching its colorful Berber & natural Atlas rugs from the origin, up on the high Atlas Mountain. The Mountain View, the landscape, the ride was an experience in itself and the highlight of it was seeing all these colorful carpets lying on the rocks sun tanning against the strong sun.
Another fascinating place to visit in Marrakesh, my favorite, was Les Jardins Majorelle, the ex house of Yves Saint Laurent with its rich gardens of different shapes and length cactus. A picture moment:
Shopping in Marrakesh:
Of course, one cannot leave any city without doing the ritual which is shopping.
For me, Marrakesh and especially the industrial zone where all designers’ kitsch boutiques are located was an ideal place. In brief, it is the remote version of Saifi Village in Beirut, where all designers meet where you can pick up a designer dress, top, bag, art craft, painting, table and even antiques.
33 Rue Majorelle just facing les Jardins Majorelle was one of the nicest boutiques I enjoyed to shop for the trendiest new designers.
Eating out in Marrakesh:
Interesting restaurants to eat in Marrakesh: Palmerai Gold Palace, an afternoon tea at La Mamounia garden, ElFassia for traditional Moroccan food in Gueliz, Drinks at Renaissance Roof Bar.
So I leave you planning your visit to Morocco to mo-rock it “Bel Sahha wel Rahha” as the locals say.
I just can’t wait to visit Marrakech. Thank you Nivine, we’re excited to discover with you your next destinations.