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Babouche Making in Marrakech


Whenever we get the chance we like to immerse ourselves in the local culture here. And Marrakech, the place we call home since 2006 offers quite a few choices for that, despite the explosion of tourism of the last decade. After having cooked a tagine and bargained for spices and vegetables in the medina, crafted pottery in tadelakt and chipped the patterns of Moroccan zellij, we heard that someone could actually teach you how to make a babouche. You know, the sharp- pointed leather slippers, the ubiquitous Arab world accessory. Almost everybody ends up buying a pair of them after touring Morocco. But making a pair ? We wanted to see if we've got what it takes...

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We arrived at the shop one busy afternoon in November. The medina of Marrakech swarmed with motorbikes, pedestrians, donkeys, carts and cats. Rachid, the master maalem ( craftsman) was sitting comfortably beyond his desk in the back of a tiny shop whose walls were entirely furnished with hand- made shoes of all shapes, forms and styles. Sheets of raw leather of different colours and textures were piling up in a corner. After exchanging greetings, we had a quick introduction to the different techniques and a description of how the crafts class was about to unfold. First, the basics: 1) choose a size inferior to the one you have. For instance, if a 9, choose 8.5 ( if 43 choose 42). 2) you’ll craft the babouche from scratch, except for the stitching (if you want to factor that part in, add another hour and a half to the actual class).

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From beyond the counter, Youssef hauled a few sheets of raw leather in very exotic colors. We were supposed to choose each a color of our future leather slippers. Hard choice... Saffron yellow, turquoise, lilac move, red brown, purple, shiny black were just a few of the options on dispaly. I finally decided for coffee brown while Leila, my enthusiast colleague, went for a sort of reddish brown.

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Before making our choice, the master craftsman pointed out that traditionally men in Morocco wear yellow or black whereas Moroccan women have a choice of any colour and quite a few are embroidered. Tourism drove up considerably the demand as well as the fabric type and so nowadays one can spot in the souks of the red city anything from blue- jean or zebra print babouches. Don't trick yourself in believing that a Moroccan would ever wear such deviations from the norm… It was time to get our hands to work ! We took possession of the pattern and proceeded to draw the shape of it on the leather sheet we had each selected. 

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Then it was time for the second stage: the gluing. After applying generous layers of special glue, we pasted the parts together under the undivided attention of our master maalem. Soles slashed out, foam layer was rubbed in so that excessive walking wouldn’t be harsh on our feet.

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Then, it was time to activate our muscles. The mallet in our hands, the different leather garments were bashed together. The shapes were handed to Youssef, who started stitching the garment to the soles, while we indulged in the ubiquitous pleasure of having a Moroccan tea and cookies. After all, it was getting near to 5 PM.

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When finished with our tea, we were surprised to find that our soon-to-become-babouches resembled shoes reminiscing of what peasants used to wear in Europe centuries ago. Or perhaps, the Eskimos. Never mind, they sure didn’t look like a leather slipper that you’d wear around the house. Where’s the trick, I thought. Well, there was one.

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That was indeed the babouche, except it had to be turned inside out. And so we did. Turn it inside out. In the process, I was largely helped by a wooden stick. The trick is: you turn the shoe inside out using your hands as much as you can. Which is about 3 inches. Then you shove the stick inside the pocket thus created and you pull. And pull. At first, you are afraid that the stitches will give up from so much pulling. But they won’t. Eventually, you end up with an almost perfect babouche. And I think we did. I mean, have a look at the pictures and judge.

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Please note that such a class would take about 3- 4 hours for a whole class, tea time included. Stitching will be taken care of by the master craftsman. Babouche - making class is offered as a choice of activities while on one of our bespoke Morocco tours

© Sun Trails 2019. All rights reserved. No part of this interview may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher.


Riad La Parenthese Marrakech

The riads of Marrakech, probably Morocco's most coveted attraction. If until the late 90's, they were a well kept secret, the secondary homes of well- off French urbanites that used to come and spend the weekend or winter holidays and started to let rooms to their friends and aquaintances, they then became hugely popular with non- French guests starting around 2006- 2007. Nowadays, there are more than 1600 only for the medina of Marrakech. If they share something in common, it is the fact that rooms spread around an inside patio, with little or no windows on the outside and service is personal yet discreet. The owner will sit down with you and share insider's tips on where it is best to shop or dine. Breakfast at 1 PM ? No problem. In general, nothing is too much trouble, when requests are within reason. And ultimately, the feeling of being transported into another world, when walking past the threshold, from a world of narrow and scrubby alleyways into a setting of 1001 nights, where a fountain is girgling, surrounded by orange trees and the scent of fresh cinnamon filling the air.

But how do you choose the best ones ? After all, you've booked one of our private tours of Morocco and are not likely to return to Marrakech soon. Well, based on our experience, it makes a difference when the owner ( usually a foreigner) is always on site, rather than having a manager hired. Then, the location: close to Jemaa El Fna square, a taxi drop off point and the souks. Third: security. You are not likely to get robbed or attacked anywhere in Marrakech, but in some parts of the medina you will get hustled more by over-night guides. Riad La Parenthese ticks all these boxes and then some: the cuisine is delicious, the decor is sober yet modern ( after all, you get plenty of traditional in Fes, Meknes and Rabat) and nothing is too much trouble for Patricia, her son Pierre and their loyal and hard working team. Patricia generously offered to share with us some of the secrets behind her love- affair with Marrakech.

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Sun Trails: How did you get the idea of the guest house? How long have you been living in Morocco and why? Where does the name of the riad come from? Do you previous have experience running a hotel ? 

Patricia: My first trip to Morocco was about 20 years ago.
To be honest, it wasn’t love at first sight- I was a little apprehensive. When I visited the Medina there, I remember there were a lot of fake guides and for me, the culture shock was complete. 
On my second trip to Marrakech however, I do not know what happened but I only had one thought in my head: to return as soon as possible.

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That’s how we ended up buying a small house a few years later and were moving between Marrakech and Belgium, but as soon as I was landing in Belgium my heart remained in Marrakech. So one day I decided to sell my shop in Belgium so we can purchase the riad. We did and then needed one year of refurbishment works to turn it into what it is today.

We had no previous experience in hospitality, but had many ideas and I knew one thing was I wished to really spoil our guests. The name (Parenthese) because in general, one visits for a few days, has a break, a parenthesis ( faire une parenthese, FR)

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ST: The staff has not changed much in recent years. Was it easy to find a team so welcoming and motivated? When you are not on site to greet customers, who takes your place?

P: Our staff has not changed for 5 years. We are a bit like a family and customers can witness that. I know I can count on them at any moment. It is however very rare that none of us are here. Pierre, my son and partner, takes care of everything when I am not there and I am always very happy when I get an email from a customer who thanks me because he has been very accommodating.

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ST: How do you get along with your neighbors in the medina ? Are there many other guest houses on the street or is it more a residential area ?

P: The neighborhood has several guest houses and we are generally solidary enough to help us in case of overbooking or to lend us things when we need it. I do not consider the other riads as competitors, we are all different in design in terms of what we offer. The good relationship with the Moroccan neighbors comes naturally; it's always nice to say a word to people while crossing the neighborhood.

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ST: You are ideally located, next to Dar El Bacha palace and the souks and 10 minutes from Jemaa El Fna square, with a taxi drop off point not far. What will you advise someone to do if they stay with you and only have 48 hours in Marrakech?

P: I always advise guests who only have 2 days in Marrakech to visit the Mellah and its palaces, the Madrasa for its architecture and especially the Majorelle gardens that I adored on my first trip. The souks are unmissable, for therein lie treasures of Moroccan handicrafts. If the guests want to leave Marrakech, I advise them to take a day trip up in the Atlas and its small villages.

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ST: What will you advise someone especially not to do, the first time in Marrakech?

P: I would advise against evenings too touristy. Some restaurants used to offer dinner and good entertainment years ago, but that is not the case anymore.

ST: What are the best restaurants not far from your hotel ? And spas?

P: The restaurants where we enjoy spending an evening are: Le Comptoir du Pacha (at only 100 m from the riad), Le Café Arabe and La Maison Arabe. We also love Latitude 31 for its reinvented Moroccan cuisine and stunning setting. As regards spas, we work exclusively with the Bains d'Orient and Heritage Spa. They are very professional and quite welcoming. Their decor is unique, with Heritage Spa being quite authentic and Les Bains d'Orient rather chic. It’s the best way to spend a few hours.

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ST: Which countries do your customers come from? Families or couples? How many nights do they spend at the riad on average? Tell us a funny thing that happened to your guests.

P: Our clients are mostly English and Spanish but the rest of our guests come from all over the world. They usually spend between 2 and 4 nights with us.

A funny thing that happened to us:
A guest that had just arrived with his luggage in his hand and who, upon walking past our plunge pool, thought it was covered by a see- through glass and stepped on it... He ended up in a bathrobe while waiting for his things to dry. Fortunately, he only got away with a scare...

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ST: What is one of the typical dishes of the house or one that your guests appreciate the most?

P: Our couscous is I think one of the best (I’m not the one preparing it, fortunately!) The girls are very good cooks. Our breakfasts which change daily are generally very appreciated.

ST: What is your favorite place in Marrakech, inside or outside the medina ?

P: My favorite place inside the city is Majorelle Gardens and a little outside the city, Lalla Takerkoust Lake. Inside the medina, the souks where I love to stroll and treasure hunt.

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Riad La Parenthese is currently offered on the Dreamers level of our bespoke tours of Morocco.

© Sun Trails 2017. All rights reserved. No part of this interview may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher.


Dar Infiane

Dar Infiane - 5.0 out of 5 based on 2 votes
Tucked away in the south of Morocco, lies the unassuming town of Tata. Those more intrepid travellers on a tour of the southern Morocco, spending the night in Erg Chigaga dunes, pass close by. At a first view,Tata seems a middle- of- nowhere ghost- town built by the French at…

8 things to do in Essaouira right now

With little to do but wander, Essaouira remains a hippy hang-out where Jimi Hendrix is said to have penned Castles in the Sand. Today though, a more Bohemian crowd flocks for the laid-back ambiance, delicious local cuisine, and miles of beach perfect for walking (even as far as the castle in the sand said to inspire Hendrix’s song).  Laid-back Essaouira is a must-do either as part of a custom Morocco tour or an excursion from Marrakech.

Sip local wines

It is believed that viticulture may have been introduced by the Phoenicians and at Domaine de Val d’Argan in the Essaouira region, Charles Melia from Châteauneuf du Pape in France, creates a range of white, red, rosé and Moroccan gris wines. Customize your itinerary with a sampling and lunch at the winery either en route during a day trip from Marrakech or as an extra activity while in Essaouira, part of your multi-day private tour of Morocco .

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Set off in to the sun

Ride off in to the sun- set Arabian horseback style! The friendly folks at Equi Evasion organize a two-hour sunset trek that is sure to take your breath away as the sun sets over the Atlantic Ocean with views of the ruined castles and mosque in the background. Or sail off towards the Iles Purpuraires as they are known locally during a two-hour sail around the bay. As human access is restricted to protect the precious birdlife (the island is a breeding ground for Eleanora’s falcons) that exists on the islands, this is the closest way to get up close and personal.

Known as the windy city, Essaouira is also a popular destination for kite-surfing and surfers and a day riding the waves (even for the most amateur of surfers) with Explora is always fun !

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Eat well

The restaurant scene in Essaouira is hotting up with local hotspots UMIA’s Ottolenghi-inspired menu featuring fresh seafood in a cool setting, One Up, located in the former British consulate building is beautifully decorated and serving up an eclectic menu and a rooftop terrace where lunches will be served opening soon.

Newby La Tete dans les Etoiles is popular for sushi on Saturdays and the regular live music fusions on Saturday evenings while nearby Le Chalet de Plage is a popular institution amongst the bohemian jet set who prefer a seafood feast overlooking the ocean. If you’re not put off by somewhat slow service ( after all, Essouira doesn’t quite transpire urgency), head to Ocean Vagabond for the most delicious fresh tuna steaks and grilled sea food.

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Foodies will want to head to La Fromagerie for locally produced sheep, cow and goat’s cheeses served over several courses under the shade of the olive trees. Jolly cheese-producer and owner Abderrazzak casually greets guests, sharing a few laughs and explaining the cheese-making process done on site.

Shop local

The only region in the world where the famous argan tree grows, picking up a bottle of both the culinary and cosmetic oils is a must! For the best, forget small spice shops and purchase only the oil produced by nearby Sidi Yassine .

We love visiting the little workshops on Rue Chbenate for wooden bowls, spoons and serving ware made from locally sourced thuya and olive wood while watching the craftsmen spin their creations.

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Essaouira is known for its raffia craft and the small boutiques throughout the medina sell a range of colourful shoe styles – loafers, slip-ons – that are perfect for warm summer days wherever your next stop on your tailor made Morocco tour!

Learn from a local

While Essaouira is known for its relatively few sites, hiring a guide is one of the best ways to understand the old city steeped in history. Once home to a thriving Jewish, Christian and Muslim population peacefully living together, today only one Jewish resident remains and some Christian expats remain in this Muslim dominant town. Yet the proof remains - Star of David, Flower of Life and the Islamic crescent engraved throughout the medina that was once a bustling Portuguese port and known also as the Timbuktu port as it marked the end of the trade route as caravans made their way across the Sahara desert. In fact, today many of the local Jewish synagogues are undergoing restoration works with foreign aid.

Sunset drinks with a view

Whether visiting Essaouira as part of a day trip from Marrakech or an overnight as part of a private Morocco tour, watching the sun set over the Atlantic Ocean as the call to prayer rings out over the medina, seagulls overhead and surfers winding down for the day is a must. For a casual drink, head to the top terrace of Taros where the energy is upbeat and fun or to Ocean Vagabond where locals and expats flock to wind down for the day, a true local Cafe del Mar. For fancy cocktails the rooftop terrace of Palais Heure Bleue cannot be beat!


Roll up your sleeves

Many cities offer cooking classes, but we think those offered at Khadjia’s Kuzina are rather special. Offered in Khadija’s home, guests create a custom menu that mixes traditional with creative menu options including appetizer, main course, fresh juice and fruit-based dessert before eating together in the comfort of her traditional Moroccan salon (living room). If you fancy something more elaborate, Madada Mogador’s Atelier Madada , a cooking school in a former almond factory. You will have a 4 hour workshop under the supervision of Allison and Mona, complete with a trip to the nearby spice souk. You will then prepare and eat a full multicourse lunch.

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Deep-rooted music scene

The wildly popular Gnaoua and World Music Festival attracts festival-goers young and old as some of the top maalem (master Gnaoui musicians) are invited to share the stage with international, often jazz and blues acts, to fuse with the traditional music with African/Islamic roots. The stages are often alive until the wee hours of the morning as concert-goers flying in from around the world and travelling from across Morocco dance the night away in the famous Place Moulay Hassan. The festival is usually held in June. 

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For a more refined concert experience, the Andalusian Music Festival (known locally as the Festival des Andalousies Atlantiques d'Essaouira) is held annually the last weekend of October and celebrates the rich Jewish legacy and the shared Arabo-Andalusian heritage between Morocco and Spain. Afternoon concerts set in the Andalusian-style Dar Souiri are intimate and popular, making it feasible for visitors on a day trip from Marrakech to enjoy some live music.

About the author:

In 2010, Mandy Sinclair arrived in Morocco on an 18-day holiday. Little did she know her life was about to change as she fell in love with the country, the music, the food, the culture and the people. Within five months she returned and in 2014 she established Say Something Communications, an English PR agency in Marrakech, and Tasting Marrakech, private food and cultural tours of Jemaa el Fna. Her writing has been featured in Brownbook, Time Out Marrakech, and H.O.M.E. interiors magazine.

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6 things to do in Marrakech

We’ve been designing travel experiences around Morocco since 2008, from our offices in Marrakech. The year is 2019 and with the rise in numbers of online ‘ lifestyle travel designers’ with ‘expert advice’ on Marrakech, we needed to sift the wheat from the chaff and compile our own list of essential things to do and see in Marrakech. After all, your holidays don't last forever and you want to make the best out of them.   

Some of the things to do in Marrakech below are rather popular and some of them just hidden gems. In general, you should try and spend at least 2 full days in Marrakech if on a private tour of Morocco. Some of the experiences below were not available a few years ago. Some of them have always been but presently, it’s more about the how than the what.


Souk Cuisine18 If you wish to tour the medina of Marrakech in a different way than with a traditional local guide  this one is worth considering. On one hand, you get your bearings as your guide will point out Jemaa El Fna square, the souks, the Place des Epices and other such landmarks of the medina. On the other hand, you will familiarize with the locals, fetching bread from the local Souk Cuisine15 farnatchi or bargaining for vegetables at the local market. Better still, cook a traditional Moroccan dish, whether it will be a tagine, rfifa, couscous or pastilla. The experience is personal as groups rarely exceed 10- 12 persons and everyone gets personal attention. Gemma, the organizer, has lived in Marrakech for 10 years, speaks Moroccan, English and French and is a well of information on such disparate topics as the social importance of couscous or permaculture in Morocco.

Start by meeting Gemma in front of Cafe de France at 10 AM. She will take you around the medina and uncover for you each component of the food circuit inside the old town: the mechoui lamb ovens, the Souk Cuisine37 preserved vegetables, the farnatchi stove, the herbs and spices shop, the local butcher and finally the souika market where you will bargain for matisha, bsla and btata. Your guide will also point out the different sites and monuments of Marrakech on the way. Then, in the shade of a traditional riad, you will be assisted by 2 dadas in cooking your tagine. If you're not crazy about cooking, you can sip a glass of wine, watch the others at work and have a tasty lunch. Later,  enjoy the rest of the afternoon on your own, browsing the souks of Marrakech or relaxing back at your riad. More details to be found here . From 50 euros per person. 

Best done on your first day in Marrakech, all year round except July, August, Ramadan and Aid El Kebir holidays.



IMG 1505 Less than one hour drive from Marrakech lies the stony Agafay desert. Nothing grows here. There are no birds, no sign of animal life. Far away on the horizon lay the snows of the High Atlas range, but in between, there seems to be nothing but dead hills indescribably bleak, more frozen in their ashen yellow than if they had been covered in rime. Occasionally, a herd of goats and shepherd spatter the horizon, on their way from their hamlet to the next oasis. The occasional camel waiting by the dusty road. One or two camps have pitched their white canvas tents between the stone dunes. In places, the same solitude and majesty reigning over the Sahara. The open panoramas lined by the High Atlas ridges in the background make it a great alternative to the Sahara for those too short on time to make the 9 hour- drive trip each way.

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bike, camel, horseor 4x4 but our favorite has to be in the seat of a buggy car. The adrenaline rises while the landscape changes continously as you drive past isolated Berber dwellings, abandoned pens, Eucalyptus forests, lunar rock formations and inside dry river beds and oases. The team will collect you at your riad / hotel in Marrakech after breakfast and take you to Tamesloht, a village famous for its 15th century, 30 minute drive south of Marrakech. There, you will get introduced to the different vehicles and security measures before rolling off in a dust cloud.

The ride takes about two hours and throws at you all types of terrains, from making your way in and out of a trench to stretches where you can take full advantage of the powerful engine. The ride is sometimes windy, as you navigate sandy river beds or donkey tracks under the eucalyptus. The front vehicle will guide you and ensure safety at all times, while stopping regularly for photos at chosen vantage points. You will also be invited to visit a local family and have tea with them. Later, trod across the stony desert on the back of a camel. Finish the day with a tasty meal in one of the local farms and return to Marrakech in the afternoon. Click here for a video of the ride. From 200 euros per person.

Best done on your second or third day in Marrakech, all year round, except July and August. 



Ideally, you’ll need perfectly clear sky to enjoy this Marrakech hot air balloon flight berber village view attraction, conditions which are more likely to happen outside the warm season. Then you can really take in all the majesty of the snowy peaks of the High Atlas range and the adobe hamlets scattered throughout the palm trees on the edge of the city.

The journey starts quite early as you are being collected by a 4x4 from your Riad/ hotel in Marrakech at around 5 AM. Once arrived at the flight area you will be served a coffee or tea and witness the rather spectacular setting up of the balloon. The pilot turns on the burners which heat up the air inside. A huge tongue of fire makes the beast slowly stand up... The last tests are being performed and then the passengers can come on board : the preparations are finished.

IMG 5034 Finally, the order is given by the pilot: " RELEASE ALL ! " Everyone is holding their breath. The moment is magical as the journey begins. This delightful sensation of floating in the Moroccan sky, suspended inside a hot air balloon soon replaces the initial surprise of the vertical takeoff. The brown adobe villages below contrast with the lush green of the palm groves and other olive orchards, while in the distance the High Atlas culminating at 4200 meters high, glittering its snow mantles far away to the south. One hour later, it is time to think about the landing. The pilot chooses a flat area and starts the approach after having explained to the passengers what to do upon making contact with the ground. After being picked up in a 4x4, you are driven to a Berber tent where you’ll be served mint tea and breakfast while the pilot delivers you a flight certificate. You will be delivered back at your riad/ hotel by 11- 12. From 200 euros per person.

Tip: A Royal Flight would grant you an exclusive private flight for hot air balloon flight you and your dear one, if you’re looking to romantically surprise your other half, either on your honeymoon in Morocco or as a perfect setting to propose. This also entitles you to: roundtrip in a private and luxury 4x4 from your hotel to the taking- off area, welcome Moroccan tea, free Wi-Fi on board and gourmet breakfast prepared specially by a Pastry Chef composed of fresh champagne, pressed orange juice, fresh fruits selection, coffee and tea served by a steward or hostess sitting at table in the sky. From 550 euros per person.

Best done on your second or third day in Marrakech, all year round, except June, July, August and September. Check weather conditions the day before to be guaranteed clear skies.



The base for the ascension to Mount Toubkal, the highest peak in nuih North Africa is the village of Imlil, at 1700 meters high, only one hour and a half drive from Marrakech. Now, perhaps you are not fit enough to climb all the way to its 4200 meters high ( the hike takes 3 days from Imlil and back) but worry not: there are some great alternative treks available from Imlil and your local English speaking guide will adapt to whatever your level of fitness may be. The surroundings of Imlil are a ybbbu true earthly heaven and orchards of cashew nuts, cherries, raspberries, elderberries, apples and figue trees supply the local Berber market in Asni on Saturdays. The local waterfalls, half hour walk from the village, in the shade of the nut- trees, past Kasbah Toubkal, are also a highlight. After a good trek, treat yourself to a tasty lunch and incredible views at the local Douar Samra chalet or the more posh Kasbah Tamadot . Our favorite thing to do though is by far lunch inside a Berber home and seeing how the locals live.

For those fit enough and willing to go totally off the beaten track, the more strenuous trek to the 2 Roulidane waterfalls is worth every stretch. Even in October, after the long hot summer, you will spot patches of snow on the plateau dominating the falls. The walk is long and you will need to stop and catch your breath plenty, but you are rewarded with breath- taking views, lost-in-time adobe villages, remote sheep folds and terraced gardens. The few locals you will cross on your way will invite tttt you for tea. Then, have lunch in a Berber home: a steamy tagine and freshly baked tafernoute bread while overlooking the peaceful valley. On the way back, we can choose to return the same way or draw a loop to join the Asni- Imlil route and be picked up by your driver. Return to Marrakech in the evening. Tip: trekking equipment including ski sticks and boots can be rented locally. From 65 euros per person, excluding guide and lunch.

Best done on second or third day in Marrakech, all year round.



Marrakech is resplendent with gardens, resembling much its sister city on the other side of the mamounia pool and gardens Mediterranean, Seville. Menara and Agdal are two of the vastest ones, built by former dynasties around large basins of water, meant to drain the waters of the High Atlas mountains and distribute it to the medina. Yves Saint Laurent’s Majorelle Garden is perhaps the most popular, especially since 2017 has seen the addition of a museum dedicated to the fashion designer. However, Majorelle is rather tiny and thus gets hugely crowded most of the day ( try visiting them early in the morning, before the tourist crowds and buses take over).

DPP 292297 Our favorite gardens in Marrakech though, belong to a hotel, La Mamounia. The story of the Mamounia begins in the 18th century with the Alaouite Sultan, who used to offer a domain as a wedding gift to each of his sons and thus Arsat Al Mamoun inspired the name of a hotel. Two centuries later, the hotel and its 8 hectars ( 20 acres) of magnificent gardens opens its doors and soon achieves international fame. Throughout the years, the hotel was never able to accommodate all the customers who desired to lodge here. Before the Second World War, Europeans and Americans were bringing their furniture for their long stays. Winston Churchill, a regular at the hotel, told Franklin Roosevelt about Marrakech in 1943: "This is one of the most beautiful places in the world". The Rolling Stones stayed in 1968. Other guests included Jean Paul Gaulthier, Nelson Mandela, the Kennedies, Tom Cruise or Elton John. Nowadays, tt goes a long way to imagine a more romantic site in Marrakech than these gardens la mamounia panoramic view when the afternoon turns to dusk, here, among the hundreds of well- manicured olive, lemon, pine and orange trees. In a way, being here, is like you have suddenly been sucked out from the white noise of the neighboring medina and its traffic madness and landed into an oasis without leaving the city. Even the nearby Jemaa El Fna and its permanent tumult seem but a far away memory.

Tip: Naturally, the gardens are not open to public, but you can ask at the entrance for the terrace and for a beverage ( a coffee would cost you a 70 dirhams / 7 euros) on the terrace, you are free to roam around its romantic gardens.

Important: please note the hotel has a strict dress code and sandals, flip- flops, shorts and mini skirts are not allowed.

Best time of year: all year round except high season ( Easter and New Year’s Holidays).



Jemaa El Fna by night Perhaps the most popular thing to do in Marrakech, Jemaa El Fna open- air market is the heart of the city. Undoubtedly touristy and flooded during the day with international tourists on their way in and out of the neighboring souks, it is still... unmissable. After dark the lingering crowds in the square are mostly composed of Marrakech locals, who come looking for entertainment and eating out at one of the hundreds of food- stalls late into the night.

The Jemaa al-Fna is limited only by the streets and buildings that surround it and the market square has been used as a public gathering place since the twelfth century, when Marrakech became a lively international capital under the rule of the Almohad dynasty (1130-1269).The square provides the setting for a huge repertory of spectacles: telling tales, playing music, achieving trances, snake charming, showing monkeys, selling herbs, street preaching, performing acrobatics, magic, fortune telling or reading cards, to name a few.

Several possible explanations are given for the origin of the name Jemaa El Fna by night 2 of the square. The word jama', or djemma, is an Arabic term meaning "gathering" or "assembly," sometimes carrying the more religious connotation "mosque." The word fna means "nothing" or "end." The interpretation of Jama' al-Fna as "the mosque that came to nothing" refers to an unbuilt mosque that was planned for the site by Sa'di Sharif Ahmad al-Mansur (reg. 1578-1603) but was never erected. Jama' al-Fna was listed as an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985 as a part of the "Medina of Marrakesh" site. It was almost terraced by the local authorities in 1990’s to make place for a building project and was later rescued by an appeal made by Spanish writer Juan Goytisolo, a local resident, to the UNESCO who then declared it Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Tip: The best time of day to capture the ambiance ( and the best photos) is at sunset. Get up on one of the roof terraces next to Cafe de France and have a mint tea while witnessing how the food stalls are set up and the whole square appears to wake up among the hawking of the sellers, the call to prayer and the fumes rising in the air above it. Then, get right in the middle of it and nibble on local street food from the stalls and stay on to watch the local entertainment.


tasting marrakech Do you want to eat where locals eat and taste dishes you typically won’t enjoy in a riad ? Tuck in to a slow-cooked tanjia prepared with preserved lemons and spices and cooked underground. Slurp harira with a side of sweet treat chebakya at a locals-only soup stand. Don’t miss out on some of the best zaalouk in the square, best paired with fresh calamari while watching the world go by from one of the busiest food stalls. In between take in a belly dancing show, some storytelling and perhaps an astrological reading or test your patience alongside locals young and old fishing for a cola. Along the way, your hostess will share her tips to Marrakech including where to dine for a special occasion and of course, where to shop. At the end of the night with bellies full, guests are accompanied to their riad. From 80 euros per person.

All of the above experiences and sites are included with our private bespoke tours of Morocco. For more information, write to us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or fill in this form

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Special Offers

BOOK SMART - BOOK OFF SEASON ! Travel with us during December, January, February, July or August and you will be charged the lowest rates all year round. 

Are you thinking of booking a tour of Morocco off season? We can’t think of a reason for you not to. December before Christmas or January after NYE is one of the best times to visit Morocco. Why?

• most hotels, Riads and kasbahs offer discounts, which means you enjoy our lowest all- year- round rates.
• there aren’t many tourists around. So you don't have to queue to see monuments or rub shoulders with hundreds of other persons in the souks of Fez or Marrakech. 
• most importantly, the weather is gorgeous. Where else can you walk around in the afternoon wearing a t-shirt in December or January ? Seychelles or Thailand perhaps, but that’s quite a few more hours to add to your flight.

In July and August, visiting the Sahara desert isn't for everyone as temperatures may rise over 100 Fahrenheit/ 40 Celsius. Instead, why not explore the unspoilt remote beaches on the Atlantic and the High Atlas mountains, where temperatures are just right during the summer ? 

If you want to take advantage of our offers, send us an email here  or call us at +212 638 636 719/ +212 666 915 384.



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Boutique tours of Morocco

What better place than Morocco for a private tailor made tour ? It can be a day trip from Marrakech into the Atlas Mountains. Or a 14 day private luxury Morocco tour. And everything in between. With such a different culture and language, a boutique 4x4 Morocco tour with an English speaking local driver- guide guarantees the best holidays in Morocco. Choose one of the many 4x4 tours from Marrakech or another imperial city and you will discover the off the beaten track Morocco. Much more than excursions from Marrakech or Morocco desert tours, our 4x4 custom tours travel all across Morocco, covering Berber villages, majestic Kasbahs, enchanting palm groves or Touareg desert camps. From Ait Benhaddou to Chefchaouen, from Erg Chebbi to Taroudant and from camel rides in the Sahara to hardcore trekking Morocco can only offer. Browse among our 4x4 boutique tours of Morocco and book your favorite today !