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Jan
31

Marrakech The Beautiful

Why is it that Marrakech, the third largest city in Morocco, which is not a rich nation by any means, such a lap of luxury, a world of design perfection, a bastion of incredible taste, decadence and inspiration for the fashion world?

Was it Yves Saint Laurent who made it so lovely to look at that the all the beautiful, the free-spirited people of the world just followed?

YSL

YSL

During the 1950s and 1960s, morocco was a refuge for writers and musicians including the rolling stones, jack kerouac and william s. burroughs, who wrote the legendary naked lunch while staying at a hotel in tangier.  Morocco was to the rolling stones what India was to the Beatles – they traveled there in the late 1960s in search of musical inspiration and found that and much more.  Soon the city became a refuge from the uptight English aristocracy, the Parisian pecking order, New York society. They arrived in the British mod style and left in loose shirts, bracelets, necklaces and a free spirit.

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Getty and Talita on the roof of their home in Marrakech

Getty and Talitha on the roof of their home in Marrakech

And still today, Marrakech is an oasis of luxury, a garden of Eden. There are still so many expats here who live in their closed villas with their insane gardens, writing, reading and painting. They fly direct from Paris or London, strip off their shoes and ties and put on a caftan.

And you can too. In fact you should. We have great deals on flights to Marrakech.

For a true vacation from the world, check out Beldi Country Club.

Beldi Country Club.

Beldi Country Club.

It feels like you’re staying in a private home. It’s as if you have entered your own lush backyard. You can sprawl out in any of the private areas of the garden maze by the pool, each bordered by a hedge of pink and orange bougainvillea, surrounded by more green trees and vines than you thought possible.

the pool

the pool

The beauty of Morocco is that you can simply lie about all day long. The hotels with their indoor-outdoor flow is set up for that. The back-and-forth routine between the blue-tile pool and chaise lounge; book or sleep is my idea of a vacation.  Rough life. Platters of Moroccan and French cuisine: monkfish, quail, steak, foie gras starters, and tagine ain’t bad either.

But if you’re one of those people who actually wants to see things on your vacation, there is much, much to do. Some touristy and some not so.


The MEDINA

the medina

the medina

It’s crazy busy and can sometimes be a little off-putting if you’re not used to be approached, but for sheer energy and intrigue, few places rival the souks of Marrakech’s fortified old city. Skullcapped artisans sweat over ancient lathes while French tourists haggle over inlaid cedar boxes and silver lamps.

La Bar Churchill

the churchill

the churchill

Le Bar Churchill, in the incredible La Mamounia hotel, which most agree is the best hotel in the city. Le Bar Churchill escaped the hotel’s face-lift largely unscathed, and still drips in supple black leather, leopard skin and polished chrome.

Belly dancers

belly dancers

belly dancers

Don’t miss the real thing. Go to Le Comptoir Darna, a French-Moroccan brasserie in the up-and-coming Hivernage quarter, is the place to see seriously entertaining belly-dancing.

Cooking

spices

spices

Moroccan cooking workshop are getting more and more popular. One in particular, Run by Gemma van de Burgt, a Dutch expatriate, the half-day workshop (10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.) starts with a visit to the Rahba Kedima market to forage for quince, argan oil and other Moroccan ingredients. Classes convene in the courtyard of an old riad, where budding chefs learn how to make dishes like lamb tagine and raisin couscous, culminating in a four-course lunch on the terrace, served with mint tea and wine.

The garden saved by Saint Laurent

Majorelle Gardens

Majorelle Gardens

the Majorelle Gardens is a 12-acre botanical garden in the French district of Gueliz. The cobalt-blue gardens were designed in the 1920s by the painter Jacques Majorelle and are filled with palms, yucca, lily ponds and a huge variety of tropical flowers and cactus. They later became the backyard of Yves Saint Laurent, whose deep love for Marrakesh is evident in his personal collection of Moroccan crafts and textiles on display in the adjoining Islamic Art Museum. Before his death, he paid for the entire gardens to be renovated.

IF YOU GO

We can’t all stay at the Mamounia at 700 euros a night so there’s also:

Riad Dar Khmissa (dar-khmissa-marrakech.com) In a renovated traditional riad well-situated within the Medina. There’s seven comfortable rooms and a sprawling roof terrace. From 50 euros, including a delicious home-cooked Moroccan breakfast.

Remember we’ve got great deals to north Africa at www.fareboom.com, check us out!

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If you enjoy always getting the best tips, deals and insider news before everyone else then make sure to visit www.fareboom.com and follow us on Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter.

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