Marrakesh | A city of alluring contrasts

Marrakesh is a magical city. The exceptional light, the multitude of scents and the frenetic and vibrant medina make the visit of this city a unique experience.  When Yves Saint Laurent first discovered Marrakesh in 1966, he was so moved by the city that he decided to buy a house here and returned regularly. At that time, Marrakesh was still an intact jewel, known only to creative people. Today, Marrakesh stands out more than ever by its contrasts. In addition to the lively trade in the various souks, the latest Concept Store and galleries of young designers and talented artists are popping up everywhere.

Marrakesh is a great travel destination to discover with kids. They will find in fact an incalculable number of things to discover and test. Alone, a walk through the vibrant streets of the medina is a fascinating experience. Everything is narrow and a bit rugged. The round gates and oriental doors of the Riads  remind us the tales of the Arabian Nights. The bargaining that takes place in the different souks is a real event that children are not ready to forget. Here, haggling is a tradition and a true art and you will wonder how your children will learn it much faster than the adults.

Jemaa el-Fnaa

All roads lead to Jemaa el-Fnaa. Even if you have already come to Marrakech and rather dislike packed tourist areas, you will still come back here for the incredible and unique atmosphere. We recommend visiting Djemaa el Fna before sunset. You can witness how the place transforms from minute to minute and fills with different food trucks. Tables and benches are set up, smoke fills the sky and the atmosphere quickly fills with the delicious scent of grilled meat skewers, fried seafood and other Moroccan delights. If you prefer it less crowded, you can watch the hustle and bustle from one of the cafes around the place. Enjoy the magic moment with a Moroccan mint tea or freshly squeezed orange juice for the kids and some “cornes de gazelles” (Moroccan patisserie).

Here two of our nicest places with a view:

Café de France (terrace on the 2nd floor) | Jamaa el-fnna/Rue des Banques | Marrakesh 40000 | Maroc

Nomads1 Derb Aarjane | Marrakech Medina | Maroc

SOUK vs. CONCEPT STORE

It’s better to come to Marrakesh with a empty suitcase and a few extra euros to enjoy shopping. A hand-woven beach bag, new Babouche for the little ones or a Berber carpet for the children’s room.  It’s really worth buying souvenirs because here you want find any Chinese kitsch.

The souks of the medina are a veritable labyrinth of craft shops, arranged according to craftsmanship. More than 2600 craftsmen offer their services here in over 20 different souks. Some are only preserved for tourism, as the souk des Teinturiers, which has lost its activity due to the increasing use of industrial paints. But you can still find some small workshops where traditional dyeing is practiced. The colors of the suspended drying yarns are definitely a spectacle and your kids will love this burst of colors. Another of our favorite souks is Souk Chouari at the northern edge of the souks. Here you will find a large selection of hand-woven products such as baskets, straw bags and hats.

In recent years, a new generation of young artists and designers – international and Moroccan – have moved to Marrakesh, making it possible to find boutiques and galleries that reinvent the country’s handicraft. One of the main causes of this change was the recent rediscovery of the Moroccan craftsmanship.

Here is our top two (in the map below you have, as usual, all our addresses at a glance):

Lrnce59, sidi Ghanem | Marrakech | Maroc

33, Rue Majorelle | 33 Rue Yves Saint Laurent, Marrakesh 40000, Maroc

PALACE DE BAHIA & BEN YOUSSEF MADRASA

When traveling with young children, it is not always easy to visit all the attractions of the city and it can be overwhelming for a kid. But with a little advance planning and a playful way to show them the beauty of those places your kids will spend a very exceptional moment. The Bahia Palace & Ben Youssef Madrasa will surely leave you all with a lot of impressions.

The Bahia Palace dates from the 19th century and has more than 160 rooms and a garden of eight hectares. It is a masterpieces of Moroccan architecture and one of the most important monuments of the country’s cultural heritage. The palace was built and decorated by the then best Andalusian and Moorish craftsmen. The detailed ornaments and mosaics reminded me of the Alhambra in Granada.

For the visit you should calculate about 1 -2 hours. Only a small part of the palace is open for visitors, because the rest is reserved for the royal family. The garden provides lots of peaceful, shady spots and making it a good alternative to the hectic medina. We recommend a visit in the morning which is the quietest time to visit.

Palais de la BahiaAvenue Imam El Ghazali | Marrakech 40000 | Maroc

Opening times: Monday – Thursday | 9 am – 17 pm

Entry price: 1 Euro

Ben Youssef Madrasa is another impressive masterpiece of the oriental architecture that is worth a visit. It is the largest medersa in North Africa and one of Marrakech’s most picturesque buildings. In the heart of the souks, this medersa–a theological college–once boarded some 900 students for religious study.

Madrasa Ben Youssef was converted into a museum in 1960 and has been one of the most popular attractions in Marrakech since its renovation in 1999 (it will reopen in 2020).

Ben Youssef MadrasaRue Assouel, Marrakech 40000, Morocco

Opening times: Monday – Sunday | 9 am – 17 pm (Actually closed for renovation until 2020)

Entry price: 6 Euro

YVES SAINT LAURENT

Jardin Majorelle is one of Morocco’s top tourist attractions and was bought and restored in the 1980s by Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé and saved it from falling victim to a real estate project and becoming a hotel complex. In view of its popularity, the garden is often very busy and we recommend visiting it early in the morning.

A few meters away, the Yves Saint Laurent Museum opened its doors in 2017. The Parisian Studio KO designed the museum, commissioned by Pierre Bergé. Its exterior incorporates terracotta brickwork designed to recall the warp and weft of fabric, as well as curved and angular volumes in earthen-coloured terrazzo.The museum’s 400-square-metre permanent exhibition space, is designed by scenographer Christophe Martin, and showcases 50 couture creations.

The 40 years of Yves Saint Laurent’s life work gives this place an incredible power. After your visit, you realize that his work has been an incredible enrichment and has contributed to the emancipation of women. The caban, trench coat, tuxedo, smoking, Saharienne belong today to the wardrobe of every woman.

Musée Yves Saint LaurentRue Yves Saint Laurent | 40000 Marrakech | Maroc

Opening hours: Open all days from 10 am – 18 pm, expect Wednesdays

Entry price: 100 DH

If you are planning a trip to MarrakeSh with your children, you can be sure to travel home with a lot of impressions. The many contrasts, smells and the incredible colors of the city will all be remembered for a long time.

Here you will find our tips for accommodation in Marrakesh. Click for info.

WE LOVE:

  • Enjoy the frenetic atmosphere of the Jemaa el-Fnaa square at sunset
  • Being awakened by the call for prayer
  • Try a hammam with your children. Most Riads offer Hammam and some have a “Light Program” for kids
  • Stroll through the souks, bargain the right price, discover, get lost

STROLLER FRIENDLY:

  • Take the Baby carrier! The streets are narrow, uneven and very busy.
  • Take good attention to the small kids when you walk through the streets. In the narrow streets of the medina many mopeds circulate at a relatively high speed. 

TIPS:

  • When a place is packed with tourists, there are of course some people who want to sell you some useless stuff. Say no, if someone offers you a free city tour, an unnecessary product or wants to paint a henna tattoo on the arm of your kids.
  • Marrakech is a desert town and during the summer months temperatures can rise over 40 degrees. Do not forget the water bottle and keep your fingers away from the ice cubes!
  • If you have the chance to stay a little longer in Marrakech, you can spend a few nights in a Riad in the Medina and then change to a quieter hotel with swimming pool in the Palmeraie.
  • The souk is like a big, hectic labyrinth. Keep an eye on your kids (this is not the place to play hide and seek!)

BEST TRAVEL TIME:

  • The best time is definitely in spring (mid March – end of May) and autumn (mid September – mid November) with pleasantly warm temperatures. In midsummer temperatures can exceed 40 °C and in winter the nights are mostly cold and temperatures can drop under 8 °C.

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