Afternoon Tea, Visiting Gardens and Shopping the Souks of Marrekech

February 10, 2020

Today we celebrated our 26th Anniversary by having Afternoon Tea at the beautiful Royal Mansour Hotel. The beautiful multi-million dollar resort was built by the King with no budget for the project. Words cannot describe how beautiful it is beyond the front gate. In fact, the King frequently houses and entertains some of his guests at this resort. Each suite is its own mini palace complete with staff and a private pool.

Since our pocketbook would not allow a multi-night stay, we opted for Afternoon Tea (high five to the British influence in Morocco). The garden where the tea is served is a typical Moroccan garden. Beautifully manicured with trees and flowers and plants from the area. Our first course was a selection of sandwiches served with Moroccan mint tea. This was followed by a melange of sweets. It was a wonderful way to spend the afternoon in this magnificent hotel. Afternoon Tea costs 450 dirham per person.

The main parlor upon entering a The Royal Mansour.
Sandwiches and sweets were part of the Afternoon Tea.
Happy 26th Anniversary.

The Gardens of Yves Saint Laurent – Majorelle Garden

The Majorelle Garden is a 2.5 acre biological garden, house and museum that was purchased by Yves Saint-Laurent and Pierre Berge in the 1980’s. At that time, the gardens were in need of work and were slowly brought up to the spectacular display you see today. The Berber Museum is now housed in the Villa on the estate and the art studio is the home of the Islamic Art Museum of Marrakech. There is also an exhibit of YSL’s original Christmas card designs through the years. It’s a nice place to spend a couple hours visiting. The entry fee to the gardens is 70 dirhams and The Berber Museum is 30 dirhams. Tickets can be purchased online and be sure to purchase them several weeks in advance.

The blue is stunning against a garden of greens.
The gardens are home to a wide variety of cactus.
1972 Christmas Card designed by YSL for family and friends.

The Secret Garden

The Secret Garden was a monumental feat of the movement of water. This Riad and garden was built in the mid-1500’s and had running water from pipes that traveled through underground pipes from wells close to the Atlas Mountains (miles away). Water is an important element in the Muslim faith and was considered a rare privilege of wealth to have it flowing in your home. Water prepares the believer to cleanse themselves to begin the ritual of prayer.

Through an elaborate set of pipes, water boxes and natural water pressure, the supply of water into this Riad filled pools, watered gardens, flowed through fountains and provided water chambers for the Saadian Royalty. These pipes are still used today to run the water through the fountains and courtyards in The Secret Garden. It’s a tranquil setting in the middle of the hectic souks of Marrekech. The cost of admission is 60 dirham per person and I recommend you have tea on the terrace and enjoy the gardens from above.

Looking down at the gardens from the terrace above.
Water traveled through the gardens via a series of channels.

The Souks

There are actually guides that tell you how to shop the Souks, but my advice would be to just wander. The Souks, or little individual shops, are a maze of alleys and passages that create the market bazaar of Marrekech. It’s a bit of a sensory overload on your first visit, but it becomes less intimidating during your stroll. You can purchase spices, silks, caftans, purses, tassels, shoes, antiques, lanterns, pottery and rugs. I like going in the morning when they open at 9am as it’s less crowded and easier to stroll and browse. Remember to always negotiate the price.

This gentleman played a great bass. As he panhandled with his rhythm he would get his tassle on his kufi spinning. Typical pointed shoes sitting next to him.
Walking through the souks in the morning before the tourists arrive.
Supplies are delivered through the souks on donkey, bikes, hand carts – pay attention as they will deliver their items.
Ladies, get your clothing here.
Lantern anyone?
Dappled sunlight through the slatted roof.
Fresh strawberries just outside the Souks.

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