A 5 Senses City Guide to Marrakech
Don’t you just love it when a taste, touch, sight or smell has the power to instantly transport you back to a travel memory? That’s exactly what happened when I was clearing my bedroom up this weekend. I came across a vase of Orange Blossom oil (fleur d’orange) which I bought in a souk in Marrakech last year.
But as well as smells, Marrakech is a city of sights, sounds, tastes and touches and for that reason I totally fell in love with it. The fusion of Arabic culture, North African cuisine and French influences make Marrakech a feast for the senses. Here’s my experience of the city through all 5 senses.
The sights of Marrakech are rich, colourful and forever changing. The best place to start is the Jemaa el-Fna square, right in the heart of the old town. Here you will see everything from snake charmers to magicians and dancers. The landscape of the square changes multiple times within the day, starting from orange juice vendors in the morning and street entertainers in the afternoon to rows of food stalls come night fall. Another sight of Marrakech is the signature Majorelle Blue, which is the trademark colour of French artist Jacques Majorelle. The Jardin Majorelle is full of the stuff and you can find hints of the colour all over the city (it also makes for a fabulous nail polish colour).
The sounds of Marrakech are much like many other bustling cities. Beeping cars from angry drivers mixed with the odd ‘moo’ of a cow in transit or the trotting of hooves of a horse and cart. The hectic sounds of the street contrasted with the babbling fountains and soothing spa music from within my luxurious hotels. Of course, Marrakech sounds can’t be listed without mentioning the famous call to prayer, which echoes around the city from the towering minarets five times a day (good job I’m a heavy sleeper).
When you’re busy getting lost in the souks, you will want to reach out and touch everything you see. Moroccan slippers, soft fabrics, hand made souvenirs and spices are some of the most common wares you can find. Be careful though – as soon as you do ‘touch’ you will have a charming stall vendor challenge you to a haggle-off before you can say ‘Fez’. Another touch I remember is when a local lady grabbed my hand in the Jemaa el-Fna square and began penning my hand with a henna paste. ‘free, free!’ she insisted, but I knew her game. I had to very strongly tell her ‘No thank you!’. But she still asked for money after she got half her design onto my hand. Pesky so and so.
The best touch of the trip was a 2 hour ‘four-hand’ massage I had at the Es Saadi Spa. Now I know what you’re thinking – sound’s a bit dodgy. But I can assure you it was all above board! The (ahem female) masseuses used their hands and warm balloons to provide a blissful massage experience.
Orange Blossom is the most heavenly and exotic fragrance and is the signature scent of Marrakech. Everywhere I went in the city I would get wafts of the stuff and it lingered in the air of the lobby of my hotel, the Sofitel Imperial Palace. Another smell I remember is the crystalised methol which was sold in the souks. One tiny flake was enough to blow your head (and sinuses) off and locals claimed it helped to cure snoring. As you wander around the old town of Marrakech you will be hit with a heady mix of food stalls and spice stalls, all of which adds to the amazing atmosphere of the place.
Seeing as Lebanese and Moroccan are my favourite types of food, I couldn’t wait to discover the TASTES of Marrakech! During my trip I was lucky enough to experience stays at both the 5 star Sofitel Imperial Palace and the Es Saadi Palace, which meant I experienced exquisite Moroccan fine dining and twists on the classic tagine. We were also spoilt at the hotel with Macaroons and fresh French pastries which were a very memorable taste. As well as the fancy stuff, I also loved digging in to local street food and shabby Moroccan restaurants off the beaten tourist trail. Like all savvy travellers, I always look out for where the locals are eating, and that’s exactly what I did in Marrakech.
Are you planning to go to Marrakech or have already visited? Leave me a comment in the box below and be sure to tell me your favourite sight, sound, smell, taste or touch of the city . I’d love to hear from you! x