If you’re in the market for some leather bags – but don’t particularly want what is on offer in the souks – go to Guèliz. There are a couple of stores along the main shopping street, Mohamed V, around the crossroads with Rue de la Liberté, that offer modern styles and much better quality than in the souks.
The dyes don’t run, the leather doesn’t smell bad and the long-term quality is far superior. They don’t have designer labels – but do designer labels really matter especially if you’re saving a lot of money? If what you want is a good quality bag in terms of design, leather, and style, you will be happy you made the trip.
Place Vendôme in Marrakech has been around for years – they offer bags, belts, leather jackets and even saddles – all at much lower prices than in Europe.
141, av. Mohammed V, corner of Rue de la Liberté, Marrakesh, Morocco
Ouazazarte is not the only place in Morocco connected to the film industry.
Kasbah Films is a production services company based in Tangiers, Morocco and founded in 2006. They have recently signed on to “Morocco,” a psychological thriller set against the backdrop of the 2008 economic meltdown.
Told over 72 hours, “Morocco” turns on Simon Collinsa wealthy Irish property developer who travels undercover to North Africa on the eve of the financial collapse of 2008 to embezzle funds from his company before it collapses. But Simon’s plans unravel as he comes across Karim, a local property developer and shrewd businessman who quickly discovers the scam andsets off to give Simon a lesson.
The first Café Clock opened in Fez, Morocco and now there is one in Marrakech. A great place for cultural exchanges as well as a cup of coffee and a place to rest.
Cafés are spring up all over the medina of Marrakech – and a welcome addition they are too.
There is local artwork on the walls alongside vintage items, street art and a program set up for cultural exchanges and the promotion of aspiring artists. Every Wednesday there are jam sessions for musicians – anyone can bring along their instrument. There is traditional Marrakchi storytelling with an English translator on Thursday nights. Saturday nights offer live concerts. You can also find classes for yoga, darija, oud, calligraphy and oriental dancing …
More than your average café. In the Kasbah area of the old city.
For your stay in the ever-fascinating, exotic city of Marrakesh live in a totally renovated ancient riad in a quiet, residential area of the medina. At Riad Sapphire & Spa we have adopted a colonial 30’s style, but updated for the new century, in a blend of modern architecture with traditional Moroccan architecture. The interior design also is a mix of Western and Eastern, modern and ancient.
Take the glass panelling in the large courtyard with our pool (using solar energy to heat), instead of a traditional forged metal railing, we’ve rendered it in glass but had the beautiful traditional pattern etched onto the glass. The result is a clean look that allows more light to penetrate the loggia/arcade area of the riad.
In keeping with our colonial 30s theme, we have a ceiling fan in the salon – but used Moroccan craftsmanship to make it a little different. We purchased leather from the suqs and found a leather craftsman to cut and cover the fan blades and support rod – voilà an old idea updated.
In the rooms we have hand-cut metal ceiling lampshades that cast wonderful patterns on the surrounding surfaces. In the courtyards and arcades we decided on a more modern take on metal lampshades – we only had to show our metal craftsman, Mohamed, a sample and he faithfully executed the designs. Again, at night these lampshades throw entrancing shadows on the white walls.
All the furniture and most of the décor, e.g. tables, sofas, banquettes, lampshades, rugs, artwork, decorative cushions, etc. have been locally made using skilled craftsmen. We’ve done a series of videos outlining the work of some of these craftspeople – see our blog – to watch how wood is turned without using electricity, how the beautiful cut metal lampshades are fashioned, how the fabrics used in some of the draperies are woven and more.
Marrakech is modern, ancient, exciting, interesting, vibrant, innovative, exotic and it has over 300 days of sunshine per year. Don’t wait to visit!
Come and stay with us – live in a totally renovated ancient riad in a quiet, residential area of the medina of Marrakech. Book directly online via our secure site and get an extra bonus www.riadsapphire.com
Etsy (www.etsy.com) is a huge online marketplace. If you’ve not heard of it, as we hadn’t until recently, think of it as a kind of fashionable ebay without the auction element. It’s full of arts and crafts inspired items and is a colourful way to shop online whether you’re looking for homewares, clothes or just some ideas.
If you put in a search for Morocco all kinds of wonderful things come up.
That leather pouffe you couldn’t quite carry back? They’ve got those, in tan, pink and every other colour of the rainbow too. Or how about a Moroccan-inspired hipflask? Yup, they have plenty of those as well.
Whilst browsing on the site we discovered the Izzizi Interiors range, which offers authentic, vintage Beni Ourain and Marmoucha Berber rugs from the mountains of Morocco – not cheap but very chic (www.etsy.com/uk/shop/IzziziInteriors)
Our blog usually covers art, fashion, jewellery, dining out and various other cultural activities that our guests enjoy so much. This week however, we bring you news of an exciting, but all together more down-to-earth, discovery. Newspapers reported last week that a brand new species has been discovered in Morocco – the curiously named ‘flic flac’ spider.
Found in south-eastern Morocco, not far from the Algerian border, this little arachnid caught our eye as he is quite unique in the insect world. To get around the Sahara this spider propels itself along by is its ability to move by means of flic-flac jumps. It literally cartwheels across the sand and is believed to be the only spider in the world to move this way. An acrobatic little fellow!
This week we bring news of a unique restoration project, just completed. If you wander along the rue de l’ Hammam and through the archway between the Mouassine Mosque and the Mouassine Fountain you will find yourself in the proximity of the newly opened Douiria Apartment.
The ‘Douiria Apartment’ may sound like a modern housing development, but it is a much more exciting concept than that. It is in fact a restoration project which has preserved a ‘Douiria’ (reception apartment) that was built during the reign of Sultan Moulay Ismail (1646 – 1727) in the 17th century.
Patrick Man’ach – who opened La Maison de la Photographie and the Berber Eco museum in Ourika – is the brains behind the project. Having seen the space, he suspected that its white-washed walls might conceal an older, more fascinating décor. He brought in a team of experts, including Xavier Salmon – of the Louvre museum in Paris – and together they worked to remove the plaster.
What was discovered behind these plain walls must be seen to be believed. Underneath lay floral patterns, wooden beams and a sun motif – all perfectly preserved.
Next, a team of 10 skilled Moroccan craftsmen were brought in – expert Moroccan potters from Ourika – who carefully restored the original colours and wooden beams. All the phases of the complex restoration were photographed and are also on display.
Now open, The Douiria provides not only a unique place for hosting VIP gatherings and high-end exhibitions but also a rare insight into the Arab art of courtly entertainment during the reign of Sultan Moulay Ismail.
While we love Moroccan food, there are certain foods that we often get cravings for that are not always that easy to find. One of these is of course – cheese!
With so many French expats in the city, thankfully it isn’t too hard to source good selections of cheese and dairy produce. One of our top tips is Le Maitre Fromager which is the go-to place in the city for cheese fans.
Housed in a pretty boutique on Avenue Mohamed VI, the smell of cheese entices food lovers in from the streets. It’s not only about cheese here though, you can also pick up other fine foods including smoked salmon and platters of cheese which work well as gifts. A must for any foodie’s address book.
It’s rare that a visitor leaves Marrakech without a newly-found passion for the local food. We offer lovely, home-cooked salads and tagines in our own riad and happily recommend plenty of interesting places to eat in and around Marrakech (many of our favourite places can be found here on this blog). But, if you’re keen to delve deeper, then a food tour might just tick the box.
We recently heard about Marrakech Food Tours from Amanda AKA @MarocMama who we avidly follow on Twitter. She and Youssef, who met in the US but who live in Marrakech, are now taking visitors out into the city to discover its culinary traditions.
Guests meet at the Jemaa el Fna Post Office and then go out with Youssef (and maybe Amanda) to meet different food artisans, to learn about food culture and the history of the area. For the adventurous there’s the “Freaky Food” tour, where Youssef takes guests out to try snail soup, sheep head, and kidney loaf – we have to admit that we’re very keen to test this one out ourselves!
Tours operate every day of the week, starting at 1pm and each tour lasts approximately three hours. Group sizes are from 1-6 (although email ahead if you plan to book solo). Tours are conducted in English and the cost for the tour is $50 (US), pre-paid, per person. Children 5 and under are free with a parent and children over 5 are $25 with a paying adult.
The lovely folks at Dubai Eye Radio – one of the best radio stations in the Middle East – asked us to tell them what it’s like running a riad in the heart of Marrakech. Before we knew it, we were on-air being broadcast around the region and beyond.
Our story was on a particular show called ‘The Road Less Travelled’ which is all about exploring other cultures and authentic travel. The Travel Show is presented by Lucy Taylor and Mark Lloyd who, every week, help their listeners ‘stay up to date and learn to navigate potential pitfalls with practical travel tips and on the ground advice from the experts in the know.’
The Travel Show covers all elements of travel, tourism, hospitality, leisure and lifestyle – looking at everything from local UAE escapes and entertainment to international vacation options and attractions.
You can listen to our own interview here, care of this podcast: