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The Weekly Getaway: colours, herbs and heat in Marrakech

The Weekly Getaway: colours, herbs and heat in Marrakech

Really, there's only a few places where colour, food and culture is so profound - Marrakech is definitely one of them. Painted in ochre, submerged into a variety of herbs and immersed in a mix of customs, Marrakech is a destination craving to be explored.

I only had 4 days to spend and had to condense all of my friends' knowledge into a very specific and targeted plan. This is it.

Jardin Majorelle

A visit to the infamous gardens of Yves Saint Laurent may sound like a tourist trap but it's really not. If you can wisely pick the early hours of the day or the late hours of the afternoon for your visit, then you're in for a fairly relaxing walk around this vibrant celebration of colours and greenery. Majorelle was the son of the Art Nouveau ebeniste of Nancy, Louis Majorelle. The gardens he created is a true masterpiece with their signature bold cobalt blue evident in every corner of this green botanical oasis in the middle of a sandy desert.

Originally opened to the public in 1947, the gardens were bought by Yves Saint Lauren in 1980.

“We were seduced by this oasis where colours used by Matisse were mixed with those of nature. »

— Pierre Bergé and Yves Saint Laurent, “Une passion marocaine” Éditions de la Martinière, 2010

And when we heard that the garden was to be sold and replaced by a hotel, we did everything we could to stop that project from happening. This is how we eventually became owners of the garden and of the villa. And we have brought life back to the garden through the years

— Pierre Bergé and Yves Saint Laurent, “Une passion marocaine” Éditions de la Martinière, 2010

 Handmade pottery at the 33 Rue Majorelle café and shop

Handmade pottery at the 33 Rue Majorelle café and shop

Relaxing by the pool

The contrast between poor and rich can be very stark, but given the customary hospitality Moroccans exemplify it is worth offering yourself a luxurious treat. There are many hotels that offer a relaxing and comforting ambience by the pool, where sun-seekers  can enjoy a drink or a meal. Be it for the legendary La Mamounia hotel where tradition eminates across, the stylish yet unassuming Mandarin Oriental where food meets art, or the classic Four Seasons brand with one of its most iconic establishments in the western world, anything you choose you'll be in for a treat.

One of the swimming pools at the Four Seasons

Indulging in local food

Last but not least, Morocco is well known for its food culture. And one's journey is not complete without exploring its famous tagines. Pick anything that clicks for you although my personal favorite is the chicken lemon tagine, topped with couscous or vegetables. Better yet, with both.

Yacout is one of the best kept secrets in the south end of the city, hidden in a dodgy neighbourhood of Marrakech. Make sure you get a reservation early, cause word is there is high demand. Once you're past the main door, your host will welcome you and lead you the waiting lounge where you can enjoy a drink. You can leave the rest up to them really, as there is a fixed menu that will guarantee that you get every single bite out of Morocco before you leave.

 Chicken tagine with olive oils and lemon confit

Chicken tagine with olive oils and lemon confit

See

  • Jardin Majorelle - Visit the colorful and beautiful gardens of Yves Saint Lauren and get lost in between the small paths 
  • El Badi Palace - The famous El Badi Palace may seem to be a touristy destination, however its marble columns and its decorations will make you feel like being back on the 16th century
  • Jemaa el-Fnaa Market - You haven't visited Marrakech unless you visit this famous market in Medina. Get all your dirhams and be prepared for some textiles and spices shopping (don't forget to bargain) 

Stay

  • La Mamounia Hotel  - luxurious Moroccan style 5-star hotel in the center of Marrakech has all the magic you need to experience some arabian nights
  • Four Seasons Marrakech - The perfect combination of minimal and luxury. You will definitely enjoy their pools!
  • La Sultana Marrakech - Right at the heart of the Medina, this small hotel, or a riad as they call it, will give you all the comfort you need, a space and a beautiful terrace
  • Riad Kniza Marrakech - One of the best riads in Marrakech. Very traditional with an amazing interior pool you'll want to dive in the moment you see it! 

Eat

  • Dar Yacout - traditional Moroccan food in a traditional scenery. You should book in advance and enjoy a dinner followed by low lights and interesting food taste.
  • La Mamounia Hotel -  Great place for an all-you-can-eat buffet (mostly traditional dishes) right by the pool
  • Jad Mahal - this is a recommended place to go if you're looking for dinner along with some traditional dancing by belly dancers 
  • Al Fassia - Moroccan restaurant that will make you experience all that there is about Moroccan food and culture in a very nice environment
New York: 80's is still a trend at Indochine

New York: 80's is still a trend at Indochine

Recipe: Super noodle ramen with kale & mushrooms

Recipe: Super noodle ramen with kale & mushrooms