Trust me Marrakech has an abundance of great places to stay as well as some incredible restaurants, this week were going to explore a couple of the ones that we visited on our stay, as well as a tasty treat during our sojourn in Casablanca.

Jemaa El Fna Square

Generally, not synonymous with great food, although the one thing they do incredibly well is the freshly squeezed orange juice.  I can hear you thinking…orange juice???  Each morning shortly after dawn the first of the many fruit and orange juice makers arrive to set up their stand.

There is something incredible about the freshly squeezed orange juice in Marrakech.  Not sure if it’s the variety of orange they use but they are the naturally sweetest little devils you’ll find anywhere on the planet!

The restaurants are okay, the best I found for people watching was the Café du France situated right on the square and with a ground floor plus two-story balcony.  Be careful, each level is its own separate restaurant and the waiters will always say the restaurant above is full and to please take a seat in theirs.  Be skeptical my friends as the best views are from the top floor. 

Also note that many restaurants do not sell alcohol, but if you want to visit, then you must buy a drink of some variety, which is actually a small price to pay especially around sunset.  You’ll have to hustle to get a front row seat, but hang in there and be ready to move tables at the drop of a hat.  Don’t worry it’s a common practice!

Al Fassia

This fabulous restaurant has two locations.  One on the edge of the old Medina which was closed during our stay, and the original some 10 minutes south of the Medina in the Aguedal neighbourhood.

The translation of Al Fassia means “The Woman from Fes” and is an ode to the matriarch of the family who started this restaurant – Mrs. Fatima Chab. And is a tribute to all Moroccan women that have thrived to master the Moroccan cuisine to satisfy their families and husbands. 

It’s set inside a walled garden, with both an indoor seating area but also an outdoor area under motorized shade. 

One of the top dishes is the popular and traditional Pastilles de Pigeon.  Yes, pigeon pie!   This had been one of the dishes Shirley really wanted to try during our visit, and it was very tasty.  Although, not what I expected at all, in that the top is criss-crossed with cinnamon and baking sugar and so has both a sweet and savory flavour.  Really interesting dish!

I had a traditional Camel Tajine, which was also fascinating.  I’d never had Camel before, and so discovered that the meat is similar to a fatty beef.  As you know anything cooked perfectly in a Moroccan Tajine is delicious. 

We would both definitely recommend this restaurant.  It was the best meal we had during our stay in Marrakech.  This restaurant is ranked number one in Marrakech, but you’ll need to call ahead and get a reservation at least a day or two ahead of your visit.

Les Jardin du Medina

Our five star Riad was spectacular!  From the moment we walked in it felt like we were thrown back to the 1950’s French Colonial period.  It was a cross between being on a constant movie scene or a Home and Garden editorial photoshoot.  Classic lines, beautiful architecture and furniture designs made for a real authentic experience.

We chose the Garden suite, which opened out onto a lush tropical garden and the adjacent pool.  This lovely big room, with separate lounge area which was the perfect size to unwind. 

Afternoon drinks (yes, they sold alcohol) on the Terrace by the fountain was a treat that was just too good to pass up.  Such a fabulous setting for a glass or two of wine surrounded by such beauty.  This is one of the things I will miss about our time in Marrakech…that perfect evening temperature and a glass of chilled wine chatting about our day.

As with most cosmopolitan cities Marrakech has a huge range of accommodations.  Everything from the hotel chains (Four Seasons, Sofitel…) to the one star and Airbnb’s they’re all on offer.

My recommendation is that for not a lot more money you can stay within the Old Medina (walled city) and experience a traditional Moroccan guesthouse (Riad).   We stayed in the Kasbah neighbourhood south of the main square but within walking distance of everything.  Absolutely perfect for our week long stay!

This area of the city is going through a revitalization that has just gotten underway, but over the next couple of years will be the hotbed of new and updated Riad’s in the city. 

Restaurant du Port de Pêche

After leaving Marrakech we made our way to Casablanca for our trip back to Toronto.  We had decided to spend a night in this old port city.  There are two things that made me excited about visiting Casablanca (other than the movie that is…yes, there is a Rick’s café but we didn’t visit).

The first is the Hassan the second Mosque, which is the tallest Mosque in the world.  Build by 10,000 labourers working 3 x 8-hour shifts per day, 7 days per week for six years.  It was completed in 1993 and is the most noticeable building in the city as it sits on the low cliffs overlooking the ocean and with commanding views of the city.  I’m so glad we were able to take a tour inside and see the incredible craftmanship.

The restaurant Jalil recommended for us was the Restaurant du Port down by the harbour.  The food was traditional seafood, we had Grilled Prawns to start (freshly caught that day), followed by one of their specialities – Paella du mare. (Seafood Paella).  Quite delicious!

The traffic is crazy in Casablanca, and feel like you literally take your life in your own hands even being a passenger in a Petit taxi.  These shared taxis ply their trade around the city, but be warned they are always looking for others to join you on your ride.  In addition, they rarely have seatbelts, nor do red lights or lanes provide much more than a “suggestion” to drivers, who you must…yes, must negotiate your fare with up front.  Yes, you’ll need to take some deep breaths!  🙂

As an FYI – haggling is a way of life in Morocco, and just one of the many charms!   You can negotiate literally everything…trust me it can be fun, as long as you’re okay to walk away if you don’t get your price. 

Until next week