Marrakesh Shopping Tips by toonsarah Top 5 Page for this destination
Marrakesh Shopping: 111 reviews and 159 photos
Souk near the Djamaa el Fna
My crutches meant that we couldn’t venture as far into the labyrinth of souks as I would have liked to do my limited shopping. I know that the better bargains, and better quality goods, are to be had as far as possible from the Djamaa el Fna. But we had to make do with the opportunities in the lanes leading more or less immediately from the square, and found these in practice to be fine. We were able to shoot plenty of photos (always a higher priority for Chris than shopping, and usually also for me), and found that being more touristy made it actually easier in some ways to get the shots we wanted as people were more accustomed to being photographed and for the most part seemed unfazed by it.
What to buy: But I was here to shop too, as best I could – some birthday money was burning a hole in my pocket! My main and favourite purchase was a vibrant pink leather shoulder bag (photo 2), spotted in one of the lanes behind the Café Argana. I succeeded in beating the seller down on price from the 450 dirhams originally quoted to 280 (about £22.50) which seemed pretty good until I saw larger bags on offer at the Ensemble Artisanal for a fixed price of only a little more. No matter, I love my bag, and the price seems fair enough to me!
Theme: Local Craft
Carpet workshop, Ensemble Artisanal
A trip to Marrakesh isn’t complete without a visit to the souks, and bargaining there is a holiday experience in itself. But it’s not one that everyone enjoys, and even if you do, sometimes it’s good to have the security that a fixed-price label gives you even if it does mean paying a little more. If that is what you are looking for, head to one of the two so-called “Artisanal” complexes – the Centre Artisanal in the south of the Medina or this, the smaller Ensemble Artisanal just outside it to the west of the Djamaa el Fna. And for those planning to shop in the souks, this is still a useful opportunity to get an idea of the range of goods on offer, the likely prices (received wisdom is that you should aim for about a third less than that charged here) and to browse without being hassled to buy.
The building is also worth seeing in its own right – the old part (opening onto Avenue Mohammed V) has a beautiful entrance with a traditional water fountain surrounded by zellij and stucco work (see photos 3 and 4), and the modern part, while less attractive (it reminded me of a 1970s suburban shopping mall) has a pleasant shady courtyard with a little self-service café.
What to buy: We came here mainly hoping to get some photos as I had read in our guidebook that you could see many of the craftsmen at work. But while this was true, the setting was less than picturesque, and in the carpet workshop at least I was asked not to take any pictures (I nevertheless grabbed a few, as you can see). But we did enjoy seeing some of the local crafts in production, and made a few small purchases – I got some bangles wrapped in the colourful thread known as cactus silk (a natural fibre that takes these bright dyes very well) and Chris bought a small leather wallet for himself and leather bookmark for his mother. The bangles cost just 15 dirhams each (less than £1.50) and the wallet 70 dirhams (about £5.50).
Directions: On Avenue Mohammed V about five minutes walk (more on crutches!) north of the Koutoubia Mosque
Theme: Local Craft
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