Marrakech: Outside the medina

Following last week’s post on my four days spent trying to decode the medina maze in Marrakech, I’m moving outside the marketplace walls…

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In front of the koutoubia, just outside the medina.

The funniest thing I did in Marrakech–and probably on any international trip–was to get my hair cut. Is that a vain use of time? Going to the salon in Switzerland is twice as expensive as back in the States and it is no secret that Moroccans know their hair. So I thought, win-win.

I grabbed a taxi and ventured outside the medina to the Chris Salon where husband and wife team–both named Chris–treated me like a Moroccan princess (did you know the country is still ruled by a royal family?).

Their salon is in the swanky, European part of town known as the Guéliz.

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After my haircut, I found my way to the nearby Grand Café de la Poste. From the abundance of palm trees to the bow-tied waiters and checkered floors, I’ve never been closer to “Rick’s Cafe” in Casablanca. Since 1925, this cafe has been a meeting place for the well-heeled crowd. While I sipped a glass of French rosé and munched on olive crackers, I overheard a Hollywood movie deal being made between two aging, pierced, ponytailed Los Angeleno men.

In many ways, I felt closer to California than when I lived in Washington, D.C.

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Since alcohol is hard to come by inside the medina, the cafe is definitely a destination for those seeking a cocktail.

Marrakech is historically Muslim so some traditions remain, but today only half of its residents are practicing. For that reason, I also refrained from wearing shorts or short skirts. Guidebooks will tell you to feel free to wear anything as a foreigner, but I wanted to respect the local customs–especially inside the medina, where just being blonde garners you plenty of attention. Outside the medina, you will see a wider variety of fashion and people drinking openly.

10858370_10102422754337708_8135755244174397230_nThe other destination I had been dreaming of visiting was the Jardin Majorelle— fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent’s last gift to Marrakech.

The phrase “oasis in a desert” must have come into use around the time the garden was developed in the 1920’s by artist Jacques Majorelle. The plants range from prehistoric cacti to delicate bougainvillea. The ever-present electric blue has a cooling effect on the space.

To preserve the garden and keep it open to the public, YSL and his partner Pierre Bergé took ownership in 1980. YSL has a small gallery of art (and a boutique!) in the garden. His ashes were also scattered here in 2008.

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My other recommendation outside the medina would be to visit the ornate Saadian Tombs. On my next Moroccan adventure, I hope to venture way way outside the medina to the desert on camelback.

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One thought on “Marrakech: Outside the medina

  1. Jill Regan says:

    Loved your blog Paige. Just signed up. So interesting. Can’t wait to share with my friends as well. All the best n hugs foo you and Bryce.

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