This post has been a long time coming. It’s been quite a while since I was actually in Marrakech but I still wanted to share because I love these pictures. I went with my friend and his cousin, and we had a great time! It was particularly helpful that my friend’s cousin is fluent in French (sidenote: I would definitely recommend picking up a few French phrases in preparation for heading to Marrakech). It was an incredibly interesting city, so different from anywhere I’d been before.
Here is an overview of my favourite things that we got up to:
This is probably one of the most iconic places in Marrakech. Well, it’s definitely one of the most iconic on Instagram anyway. It’s where the designer Yves Saint Laurent lived for years and there’s a memorial for him and his partner in the garden. The gardens are simply beautiful. They were very busy but there was still an element of calmness and serenity as soon as you walk in. There’s a large variety of flora and fauna, and the blue house is truly striking.
This was hands down my favourite thing I did while in Marrakech. There are a bunch of different companies that do quad biking but we went with Dunes & Desert. They were absolutely great and I would highly recommend them, they were just really friendly and just made us feel so safe. We were picked up from near our hostel and taken out into the desert. We were given a safety talk, suited up and started practicing on the bikes. We then had a photoshoot (you could buy the photos after if you wanted, they were pretty cool so we did end up purchasing them), and then we headed out on our adventure. One of the staff members led up in a line, with another staff member at the back. We stopped twice, once was just a quick break to take a few pictures, and the second time we were given tea and bread. It was so much fun and a really cool experience, I would definitely suggest it to anyone heading to Marrakech.
The souks are the markets. They are probably what Marrakech is most known for and they are insane. They seem to just keep going and there is a constant hustle and bustle. I’m not really a haggler so I found the experience very overwhelming but it was very interesting to see. I would definitely recommend going further into the markets, as the ones at the front are very touristy, more expensive and I found the people were pushier. I would also suggest having a bit of a google to see roughly what prices you should be paying for things and tips on how to haggle.
LE JARDIN SECRET
This wasn’t a place I had heard a lot about but my friend and I had a few hours to kill and wanted something that was relatively close and relaxed. We did a bit of a google search and ended up at Le Jardin Secret. It’s easy to pass and not even realise it’s there, being near the centre of the city and with the entrance along a narrow street. You can’t tell from the outside that there is a hidden oasis of calm just behind the door. We walked around for a bit and then just sat and enjoyed the scenery and the serenity. It’s smaller than Jardin Majorelle, but it was a lot less busy when we were there. There is a cafe/bar and a tower you can go up (for an additional cost) to see an amazing view of the city. It’s not the most impressive place I’ve ever been but something about it made me fall in love. I would definitely recommend a visit if you’re looking for somewhere to escape the chaos of the city and just breathe for a few minutes.
WHAT TO WEAR?
I wanted to finish up with a quick note on what to wear if you’re a woman, as it’s something I struggled with before going. It’s going to be quite hot so keep that in mind, but I did find that I was more comfortable when I was more covered up than I normally would be in a hotter climate. It’s really annoying to have to do it, and honestly I didn’t do it out of respect for the culture; if I was going into a place of worship or something like that, I would understand having to cover up and abide by their rules if I chose to enter, but on the streets, sorry no, I don’t care; it should be my choice what I wear. HOWEVER, I personally felt it made me feel safer and more comfortable to be a bit covered for a number of reasons. I didn’t feel like there were boundaries when it came to my body, if I’m honest. On the first night, we were out quite late getting food since we had gotten in late and a guy came right up behind me and properly grabbed my ass. As you can imagine, after that I was a bit on edge. Because of how people are dressed around you, you draw more attention to yourself the more skin you show. And there are people waiting to take advantage of tourists; some of the guys there do this trick where they act as if they’re helping you and then, regardless of whether or not you even accepted their help, they ask for money. Once we refused and the guy tried to start a fight with my male friend. Thankfully some local woman stepped in and helped us. We genuinely did met a ton of nice helpful people, but there are also a small number of shitheads who are just looking for their next victims, so it’s best to try and stay off the radar as much as possible.
So, having said of that, what did I actually wear? I didn’t show my legs, I had some very light linen trousers and a flowy midi skirt. I then wore either a t-shirt or a tank top with a scarf (that I bought in the market). When we were inside the tourist areas and restaurants, I felt okay with my shoulders out. And I did wear shorts when we went quad biking because I knew we were going to be with tourists and people who are used to tourists the whole time. I did get told to put on a jacket by a random man in the souks when I was wearing a high neck tank top with a scarf over my shoulders. I definitely saw people wearing less clothing on the streets and in the souks then me, and they seemed fine, but I just didn’t want to have to deal with the additional attention. It’s frustrating but it’s a personal choice, I guess.
Marrakesh was a crazy place. It was such a different culture and honestly I think it took me a few days to adjust. I did start to love it though once I had gotten my bearings. I think my main tip would be to do lots of research when you’re looking for a place to stay and consider paying a bit more for somewhere nice. I didn’t like where we stayed and I think that impacted how I felt mentally, not having a place I felt safe and relaxed to come back to after the chaos of the city. Also, I would suggest going in a group, even if it’s small. I would not have felt safe on my own (and I travel by myself a good bit). Other than that, I would definitely recommend visiting Marrakesh and I would like to go back some day.