10 Day Tour: Travel & Shop The Souks of Morocco
Duration: 9:00am – 6:00pm Daily
Morocco Travel: In Luxury 4×4
English, French Speaking Driver, Guide
Starting & Finishing Point: Your Hotel In Casablanca / Airport in Marrakech
This fun-filled Shop the Souks of Morocco Tour is for the Moroccan traveler (Book a Tour or call (800) 787-8806) who wants to learn how local crafts are made with opportunities to explore and buy. Let us be your guide to Morocco Travel.
Shopping in Morocco is a unique and exciting experience. No visit to Morocco would be complete without exploring the medinas (walled cities with maze-like streets) of Marrakech, Fès and Ouarzazate. Unlike shopping in the West, where people tend to visit local retailers, in Morocco a shopping trip involves visiting the old medina, and various souks (markets) within them that sell specific goods ranging from clothing, to fabrics, shoes, food and carpets. Since most foreign currencies are strong in comparison to the Moroccan dirham, you can go on an extensive shopping spree and purchase various local Moroccan handicrafts such as Moroccan leather work, carpets, jewelry of silver, gold and copper along with ancient embroideries and basketwork.
Souks and markets are a major feature in Moroccan life, and among the country’s greatest attractions. Each major city and town in Morocco has a special souk quarter. Villages in the country side also have local souks which are usually held one day each week in an open field or outside the towns kasbah walls. Large cities like Marrakesh and Fès have labyrinths of individual souks (each filling a street or square that is devoted tone particular craft). The city of Marrakesh, Fès and Ouarzazate are famous for their beautiful souks- which are Morocco’s posh and huge shopping centers. Some of the best buys in Morocco are dates, leather ware, handicrafts, carpets, pottery, wood carvings, traditional dress (djellabas) and various food products.
Souks and markets are also a daily destination where locals shop for fresh meat, vegetables, household goods and other items that Americans for example, purchase at Wal-Mart or Target. In the country side, you can find large numbers of weekly souks (markets). A new alternative to souks in Morocco is Marjane, a Moroccan hypermarket chain, found in large cities like Marrakech, Casablanca, Agadir, Fès, Tétouan and Tangier. Marjane is the “Moroccan Target” and sells a wide variety of items such as food, clothing, liquor, electronics and other household goods.
Whether or not you are a big shopper, visiting a souk is a cultural experience that should not be missed on a trip to Morocco.
DAY 1: CASABLANCA
►Have breakfast in a local café, visit the Hassan Mosque, and then take the road directly to Fès. Once in Fès you will unpack at your hotel, rest and then have dinner in Fès Novelle.
DAY 2: TOUR FES EL BALI & AROUND
►After breakfast you will begin your guided tour of the Fès medina.
►Fès is separated into three parts, Fès el Bali (the old, walled city), Fes-Jdid (new Fes, home of the Mellah), and the Ville Nouvelle (the French-created, newest section of Fes). The Medina of Fès el Bali is believed to be the largest contiguous car-free urban area in the world. To enter the medina, you will pass through the Bab Boujeloud gateYou will explore the medina’s narrow streets lined with local shops and stalls of fresh fruit, mounds of spices, intricately woven Berber carpets and many other Moroccan handicrafts and home goods. Fès has two main streets, “Rue Talaa Kebira “ and the “Rue Talaa Seghira “ which are utilized as the main throughways when exploring the medina- and the mysterious maze-like streets in between. The Fès medina is a labyrinth of sloping, winding alleyways are crammed full of stalls and workshops. This area is known as the famed Kissaria -the commercial centerFès Medina produces its own specialty goods: cobalt blue enameled pottery, carpets, wrought iron … one looks on as the dyer stirs his yarns, steeped in their multitude of colors, as the tanner tramples his skins under an open sky -skins that the leather-worker will eventually adorn with fine gilt for book-binding. . A multitude of locally produced goods are on sale including cotton fabric, silk, brocade work, slippers, and many more. Each district in the , with its decoration of blue and green faiences.
(Book a Tour or call (800) 787-8806)
WE WILL VISIT THESE HISTORICAL SITES IN THE FES MEDINA:
►Medersa Bou Inania: An (Islamic school) founded by Abu Inan Faris that is highly decorated from floor to ceiling. The medersa is one of the few religious places in Morocco that is accessible to non-Islamic tourists..
►Kairaouine Mosque: Morocco’s second largest mosque was built by Fatima in 857. The Kairaouine Mosque became the home of the West’s first university and the world’s foremost center of learning at the beginning of the second millennium.
►University of Al-Karaouine: Founded in 859, this university is one of the leading spiritual and educational centers of the Muslim world and is considered the oldest continuously operating institution of higher learning in the world.
►Medersa el Attarin: A (Koranic school) that was named for local spice merchants known as attar. Founded by Sultan Abou Saïd in the 14th century as a students’ dormitory, it is attached to the Kairaouine Mosque.
►Zaouia Moulay Idriss II:A zaouia (shrine) dedicated to and the tomb of Moulay Idriss II, who ruled Morocco from 807 to 828 and founded the city of Fès for the second time in 810.
►Dar Batha: A Hispano-Moorish palace dating from the end of the XIXth century that houses admirable collections of traditional art from Fès.
►Stop for lunch at one of the palace-restaurants medina at one of the fine Moroccan restaurants which serve an extravaganza of mezas (small plates of food) common among FassisChoukchouka salad, Zaalouk salad, Carrots with Cumin Seed, rasin and orange salad, Cold radish, orange, and Fennel Salad. The mezas are traditionally followed by the main meal which will include the option of a: Lamb, Prune, and Date Tagine, a Chicken Tagine with Olives and Preserved Lemons or a Vegetable Tagine. For desert you will be served with fruit/ or local Moroccan pastries along with Mint Tea. tradition. The mezas that are often brought to your table prior to the large mid-day meal will be several of these:
►After lunch you can explore the souks in the old Medina Fès el Bali more in depth and even stay well into the evening, as many shops are open after sunset. The layout of the souk is a complex network of streets ,centered around the kissaria, selling luxury goods like fine silks and brocades, high quality kaftans and jewelry. There are also souks like the El-Attarine Souk selling spices, a slipper souk and a henna souk, which is set in a shaded area planted with arbuses.
►Weavers Cooperative: We will also visit the Weavers Cooperative located in a residential neighborhood off a main shopping street. The workshop specializes in weaving the finest jellaba fabric, made of silk and wool threads imported from Italy. The shop also makes a quality jellaba fabric from locally spun, textured wool thread called hubba -sometimes referred to as couscous, because it’s nubby texture resembles Morocco’s national semolina dish of the same name.
►Berber Carpet Demonstration: The Famous Exhibition of Antique and Modern Carpets is one of the places in Fès el Bali where you can see a Berber carpet demonstration. You will be offered mint tea and follow your guide up a coil of stairs to a small area to watch carpets being made by young girls who come from the mountains to show tourists how Berber carpets are made.
►Tanneries: The Chourara or the Tanner’s Quarters is the most lively and picturesque souks in Fès. The Tanneries are often located near watercourses like the Wadi Fès and at a distance from residential areas due to the strongly unpleasant smells they produce.
►Dyers Market: The dyers market, located along Rue de Teinturies, is the best place to see the dying vats which have been used for centuries to soak the skins of sheep, goat, cows and camels after they have their hair and flesh removed is best seen from the neighboring terraces. You will see many tanned hides colored with natural pigments ranging from shades of brown, black, turquoise fuchsia, yellow and orange.
►Potter’s Cooperative: You will also visit the Potter’s Cooperative. Also known as Place el-Seffarine, this kisseria is the most important center for the production Fasiss style ceramics, brass-ware and silverware in Morocco.
(Book a Tour or call (800) 787-8806)
DAY 3: TOUR FES – JDID & VILLE NOUVELLE
►After a breakfast of Moroccan semolina bread, a fruit and nut or avocado milkshake and hot coffee in the Ville Nouvelle, we can explore the new city which dates from the French Protectorate that lies south of Fès el Bali. The New Town is one of the most impressive in Morocco with its gardens and streets flanked with shops, cafes, restaurants and minerature souks. Administrative buildings and modern hotels also populate the areas clean streets which are filled with locals, tourists and many petite taxis.
►Originally the Ville Novelle shopping center was designed to accommodate westerners living in Morocco; however, today it is considered to be a modern Moroccan city and used by foreigners and Moroccans. There are five mosques within Ville Nouvelle that were built after Morocco won its independence in 1956. Visit the exterior of the mosques and admire the attractive French architecture and the apartment buildings easily identified by their elegant balconies.
►Have lunch in one of the international restaurants in Ville Nouvelle then do a little shopping. Ville Nouvelle has well stocked shops filled with Moroccan crafts and foods from all over Morocco. The square is especially known for having some of the best tailors in Morocco. OnLalla Miriem you can find handmade caftans, jallabas and gandouras of which you can have custom made. Turn in early to your hotel to relax for a bit and then enjoy the evening at one of famous restaurants in Fès for dinner such as Le Maison Bleu or Imperial Fès Restaurant where your dinner will be accompanied by local musicians and belly dance.
DAY 4: TAKE THE ROAD TO MARRAKESH
►Wake up early, have breakfast and then take the road to Marrakesh. Once in Marrakesh you will unpack at your hotel, rest and head to Djemme El Fna Square for a dinner where aromatic smoke fumes linger off the delicious delicacies sold in the square and the sounds of Moroccan music fill the air. Food is prepared hot and fresh everywhere along the lines of countless food stalls. The entire square is dark except for the gas lamps lighting up the food vendors cooking area and illuminating the towers of greasy smoke sailing over the Djemma.
DAY 5: MARRAKECH / SHOPPING IN DJEMMA EL FNA SQUARE
►After breakfast, departure from your hotel. Your introduction to Marrakesh’s shopping district will begin in the Medina, the old quarter of the Marrakesh. From here we will explore the historically charming area by foot. In Djemma el Fna Square, you will find a lively area filled with artisan shops, aromatic bakeries, and excited shopkeepers eager meet you.
►Your guide will help you navigate through the labyrinth like streets and alleys of the Djemma. Enjoy the aromatic streets, taste the fresh squeeze orange juice and venture into the souks (shops) specializing in Berber carpets, silver jewelry, artisan workshops, handmade shoes, tanneries, etc.
The souks are laid out in the narrow streets north and east of Place Jemaa el-Fna and stretch from the Ben Youssef Mosque in the north to the Souk Smarine in the south. There is a different entrance to get into the Djemaa el Fna, just to the left of the Café Argana, which leads into the Bab Ftouh area and up Rue Mouassine; Rue Souk Semarine, through the potters’ market; and opposite Café de France, to the left of the mosque, through the olive market. One can enter through any of the Babs (gates) in the walls, such as Bab Lakhsour, and just walk in the direction of Djemaa el Fna and everywhere you will see handicrafts bazaars.
►In recent times, a goods and handicrafts were mixed throughout the souk however most sections remain separate today. The Marrakesh Souks worth exploration for the ultimate shopping experience are: Souk Semarine, and clothing, Souk Rahba Qdima, which is known as La Criée Berbère (the Auction Crier) has rugs, carpets, and sheepskins with many pharmacies. Souk el Attarine has spices and perfumes; Souk des Bijoutiers has jewelry; Souk des Forgerons has copperware; Souk Larzal is the wholesale wool market; Souk des Teinturiers is the wool dyers’ market; Souk des Babouches sells the pointed slippers a traditional favorite worn Moroccans; Souk Chouari is where carpenters work in wood and you will find lovely smells of cedar; Souk Haddadine sells ironwork; and Souk Cherratin offers a range of leather goods (with dozens of purse-makers and sandal cobblers). Tanneries, due to their unpleasant odors, are kept at the edges of Marrakesh.a main thoroughfare, traditionally dominated by textiles
►Entering the souks via Rue de Souk Smarine (clothing) or Bab Doukkala you will pass the former slave market and arrive at Rahba Kedima “Old Square” where magicians and healers buy their supplies and local Marakeshis from the country side sell fruit, vegetables and live chicken. Heading north of Rahba Kedima you will see Souk el Batna, which sells thousands of leather sheep skins, Souk Zrabia- the main carpet market, Souk el Kebir-sells leatherwork and Souk des Bijoutiers sells jewelry.
►Have lunch at a traditional Moroccan restaurant in the medina then continue shopping within the Djemma El Fna. Near the Rue Bab Doukkala is the Souk Haddadine where there is a constant sound of hardworking brass and copper workers clamoring away at metal and melting it to make trays, lanterns, grills, locks and keys. At this point, you will have exhausted much of the kisseria and perhaps want to head back to a favorite area or return to your hotel to relax prior to dinner.
(Book a Tour or call (800) 787-8806)
DAY 6: MARRAKESH / MAJORELLE GARDEN & GUELIZ
►Have breakfast and then visit the Majorelle Garden, a magical and lush small garden estate designed by Jacque Majorelle and maintained by Yves Saint Laurent. The Majorelle Garden is filled with colorful walkways, ponds, cactus and plants as well as a beautiful shop with hand-made goods. After visiting the Majorelle Garden, we will navigate our way to the new city, to French, Gueliz. Gueliz is the Garden district within modern Marrakesh and spaciously laid out with wide avenues, municipal gardens, large hotels, cafes and apartment buildings. In the midst of Gueliz there are beautiful, trendy and upscale boutique shops. On our tour of Gueliz, you can browse the modern shops selling traditional Moroccan wears such as caftans, jellabas, fine silks, jewelry and other artisan goods. We can also make pit-stops at the various Moroccan galleries where Western and Moroccan art and artifacts are shown.
►Enjoy lunch in the Gueliz, a French quarter which offers a variety of Moroccan fare and International restaurants. After lunch explore Marrakesh at your leisure.
DAY 7: OUARZAZATE
►Wake up early, have breakfast and then take the road to Ouarzazate. Dinner on the road and then settle in to your hotel for the evening.
Day 8: OUARZAZATE SHOPPING, OASIS OF FINT, AIT BENHADDOU
►After breakfast at your hotel, we will depart Ouarzazate and take the pise (windy road) towards the Oasis of Fint passing the “Plateau de pierres”. On this road you will find a shining Oasis of palms. Visit this Oasis of Fint that hovers under the Atlas Mountains. Journey on a one-hour walk inside the Oasis where you will have a cup of tea with the headmaster’s family Azziz Ouaziz. Then tour the surrounding area where date palm oases and dramatic desert scenery is king.
►After visiting the Oasis of Fint we will take the road to the picturesque village of Aït Benhaddou. Aït Benhaddou is situated in Souss-Massa-Draâ on a hill along the Ouarzazate River and was once a significant stop for traders carrying gold, salt and slaves along the famous Southern Caravan route moving through the Sahara. Lawrence of Arabia was filmed here and Orson Welles used it as a location for Sodome and Gomorrah; and for Jesus of Nazareth the whole lower part of the village was rebuilt. In recent years more controlled restoration has been carried out under UNESCO auspices. Make sure to bring along your camera and photograph this spectacular site and the stunning views that surround this Kasbah and its crenellated towers and dark red pise walls. Aït Benhaddou was once a significant stop for traders carrying gold, salt and slaves along the famous Southern Caravan route moving through the Sahara.
►Enjoy lunch and then head to the souks and shopping streets of Ouarzazate. Your guide will lead you on a private tour through this desert city known for fabulous spices, antique silver jewelry, all things roses- imported from El Kelaa Des Mgoun/ Valley of Roses a, the capital of eau de rose.
DAY 9: OUARZAZATE- VISIT ATLAS FILM STUDIOS
►After breakfast, visit the Atlas Film Studios. The studios are flanked by Holly-wood style Egyptian figures and cover 30,000 sq m of desert. David Lean filmed Lawrence of Arabia at The Atlas Film Studios in the early 1960’s. Since then many famous directors have followed in his footsteps to exploit the magnificent scenery. International blockbusters shot here in recent years include: the French version of Cleopatra, Bertolucci’s Sheltering Sky, Scorsese’s Kundun, Gillies MacKannon’s Hideous Kinky, Ridley Scott’s Gladiator, Black Hawke Down, Oliver Stone’s Alexander The Great, Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven, and Penelope Cruz’s Sahara. Most of the filming takes place in the desert in the south however you can view the Tibetan monastery featured in Scorese’s Kundan and an Egyptian temple from Cleopatra.
►Take the road back to Marrakesh. For lunch enjoy a tajine in a cafe restaurant of the Tadart. At 2260 meters above sea level, the highest part of Atlas as well as the highest pass in Morocco, your lunch will be complemented with overwhelming mountain views. Driving on the road to Marrakesh, you will pass the interesting town of Amerzgane, the Kasbah Telouet and Aït Ourir, a charming Berber village where you can stop to take some pictures of the Atlas foothills.
►Soon after seeing views of the olive groves of the Oued Zat, you will begin ascending onto the Tizi-N-Tichka Pass Road. Along the route to Marrakesh you will see panoramic views of the High Atlas Mountains as well as sights of fertile valleys, blue and red colored pise villages and other striking mineral environments. The higher up you drive you will notice the mountains becoming more rounded and the crops turning into bare red soil.
DAY 10: MARRAKECH
►Departure from Marrakech’s Menara Airport. This ends your Morocco Travel experience.