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Among the imperial  cities of Morocco (Fes and Marrakesh), Marrakesh is the entry to the south of the country. Both maintain a mostly medieval city life, but Marrakesh seems to beat Fes with the huge number of visitors it gets.
The second biggest city of the country, Marrakesh remains as exotic as it gets. And it all starts at the square of Djema el Fna, the "most wonderful city square in the world" according to the Rough guide (which of course makes one wonder as to the credibility of the authors..). Beloved by tourists, snake charmers, fortune tellers, acrobats, storytellers and pickpockets, sad monkeys and tooth-pullers, water vendors (!) and herb doctors and other charlatans and performers that will basically force you to pay the moment you even turn your camera their direction. Djema el Fna is a must of your visit, the beginning of your visit to Marrakesh, or the end of it, if pickpockets enter your pockets and send you running to your consulate. Beware of scams and follow the news, because they change often and you need to do the update (googlewise) before your trip…

Adjacent to the square is the famous souk, where you WILL fatally be lost. Do not wander very far though, even if you are feeling lucky that day, because once the omnipresent police (for a big part in civilian clothes) are not there to protect you the persisting, agressive touts are as present as they were 30 years ago (my first visit to Tangier) to make your life hell. I have not yet found a way to avoid them, but this phaenomenon bleeding the country is just so  embarrassing and dangerous that we decided to never go back again. (I said the same thing 30 years ago, with the difference that this time it is safe to say I will most probably not be there anymore at that time to break my promise…)

Marrakesh, the city of Yves Saint Laurent, is nowadays a major albeit discreet gay-cruising scene. Visiting the YSL Museum is another must, without dangers. Situated in Gueliz, the New City (a name originally coming from the word "English", where the foreigners lived) it is an astounding piece of architecture that, together with the adjacent Majorelle gardens, you will have the pleasure of photographing with another million selfie-hungry aspiring photo models.

The Bahia palace is also worth a visit, as well as the El Badi palace. But even more worth visiting is the Mamounia Palace hotel, considered to be (…) one of the best in the world, where you will have to pay to enter and where you will be limited to only certain parts of the famous gardens, the rest being available to international zillionaires. The Koutoubia minaret is another must-see.

As a general rule, if you want peace and comfort you should choose a place to stay in the Gueliz, with its grand but mostly (sort of) affordable hotels, in Hivernage or Semlalia,  or otherwise find a Riad outside Marrakesh, nearer to the airport, although you will need taxis to the city. Our riad El Cazar was a real oasis, a splendid little place with a lovely swimming pool and an exquisite Berber cuisine. It was hard leaving the place and I can imagine one could spend the entire holidays without going anywhere…The French owners and their four dogs (Caramelle, Ozzy, Sailor and Django) will make your stay unforgettable. And eat the rest of your food...

But you will most probably choose to visit the city, and the safest way to do that is by booking the taxi through your hotel. Pay a little more and avoid the hassle with local drivers telling you the price on the taximeter (if there was one and if they had turned it on) is per person and not per itinerary…

While in Marrakesh or in Morocco in general you should be prepared for a much bigger police presence that you are used to, if you come from Europe. The same goes for the unending police controls to get in and out of the country. Beware that if you fly with a connection in Morocco you will simply have to undergo twice the same exhausting controls, the notion of "Transit passenger" being irrelevant in the country. The queues are nerve-breaking, the machines do not always work and the employees fight between them instead of helping the situation. All this happening in a country that as recently as 1987 applied to join the European Economic Community, the predecessor of the EU… (the geographical criterion that somehow had been omitted was later enshrined in the Treaties)

We had lovely culinary experiences in the Cafe des épices and the Terrasse des épices. For a coffee or a drink, or a photo opportunity, try the Café de France or the Grand café de la Poste.

The Café de France is full on a permanent basis, and the Grand café de la Poste is so solicited that you have to pay BEFORE you enter for a photo opportunity from its roof, that may prove impossible, given the other thousand tourists standing in front of you and obstructing the view.


While in Marrakech the TAM (Artisanat et coopérative textile des femmes de Tamesluht) is worth a visit for a good cause. As for your eyes pleasure pay a visit to the Hotel Beldi and its glass laboratory (closed in the summer).