Moroccan Adventures | A Day in the Souks
No trip to Marrakech is complete with a day of ‘souking’. Go in with a positive, open attitude, combine with a nice lunch somewhere shady (Le Jardin, Terrace des Epices) and be prepared to barter. It was almost 40 degrees the afternoon we took to the city’s maze of market vendors and stalls and to be honest, 3 hours later we were overjoyed to return to the oasis of El Fenn… When it’s that hot, bite-sized chunks of exploring is definitely the way to go.
Here are a few tips/things to know when it comes to Marrakech’s souks:
- It’s not as cheap as it once was. Prices in Marrakech are sky-rocketing and bartering isn’t always pleasant or easy as many of the stall holders are aware that behind you, there is someone willing to pay full whack. We were shown smallish rugs, albeit beautiful ones, for close to £300 with little room for budging. Be firm but fair and if you really love it, be realistic about what the equivalent would cost you back home. And always barter with a sense of humour and a smile!
- Beware of asking for directions. You’ll often find someone will offer to walk you there only to expect payment when you get there, even if you explain from the outset you can’t pay (the latter happened to us). Again, be firm and insist you don’t need them to show you in person.
- When shopping for interiors stuff, keep in mind your decor at home. It’s seriously tempting to go all out and get sucked into all sorts of textiles and lanterns but it’s worth remembering what your true style is like.
- Cover-up legs and shoulders. Be respectful of Morocco’s culture and wear loose trousers and sleeves when wandering round the souks. You’ll also feel more relaxed and comfortable the less attention you draw to yourself.
- If you’re taking photos of the souk’s themselves be subtle and polite to avoid any confrontations about payment.
But most of all, have fun and explore!
We stopped for lunch at Le Jardin which I’d definitely recommend. Shady, green and straws fans on hand, I wolfed down a massive plate of ravioli before tackling the souks once again. Tortoises freely wander around so be careful with your chairs…. We almost decapitated one when we arrived as it was pretty much camouflaged on the tiles. Thankfully we made up, although I couldn’t quite shake the feeling he wanted to bite my toes….
We came away with two huge kilim floor cushions and a pair of babouche slippers for me, all of which I still love now back in blighty. After getting lost for about an hour in the souk’s maze (not kidding), we finally made it back to El Fenn, although not without a pretty nasty flare-up of prickly heat. The roads were so hot, they were basically grilling my feet from underneath…. Thankfully. a nice, cool dip in El Fenn’s courtyard was the ultimate remedy.
Ph. by James Wright and myself