The souks of the medina, a labyrinth of temptations

You don't know Marrakech until you've visited the belly of the city. Among the jumble of harmoniously intertwining alleyways lie a number of traditional oriental markets that continue to punctuate the days of the chameleon city. On the programme: stalls, craftsmen's workshops, little taverns... A cheerful bazaar where the smells mingle with the voices of the merchants. If there's one thing to do in Marrakech, it's the souk. You can find just about anything you can imagine. Baskets, typical brightly-coloured crockery... It's a great opportunity to go shopping and bring back some lovely souvenirs for your loved ones. The vendors charm passers-by with a glass of mint tea and invite them into their cabinet of curiosities. This picturesque place is a veritable street theatre. There are a total of 18 markets in the city. We've put together a short list of our favourite souks. A change of scenery guaranteed!

Spices on the Moroccan market, Marrakech, Morocco.

- © Sylvia Kania / Shutterstock

Tracing the past of Marrakech's markets

Marrakech is known as Morocco's commercial hub. The souks, temporary open-air oriental markets, date back several centuries. When the city was founded in the 9th century, merchants set up their stalls every day in the street, which was a daily rendezvous for Moroccans and desert dwellers alike, who came to shop and barter before setting off again in their caravans.

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Over time, the souks have evolved and no longer offer the coveted foodstuffs of the past, they have become veritable temples of remembrance. Despite the changes they have undergone, they remain authentic and still display handicrafts to perpetuate local know-how. Shoes, handbags, baskets, stoles, jewellery and carpets are on offer at prices that are best negotiated. Bargaining is a common practice in Morocco and deeply rooted in local customs. That's how it works, and it's part of the charm of the attraction. Tourists lend themselves easily to the game.

A carpet store in the souk of Marrakech, Morocco.

- © Jon Chica / Shutterstock

The prettiest souks in the imperial city

The Ablouh souk

Located opposite the Café de France, this souk is dedicated to olives and candied fruit. You'll find soft lemons, herbs and dried flowers, as well as drupes of all kinds. Particularly frequented by locals negotiating prices, curious travellers love to wander through the colourful streets to take in the sights. It's a very lively place, and a guarantee of total immersion in the life of the locals.

Selection of olives for sale, Marrakech, Morocco.

- © Ingusk / 123RF

The Attarine souk

In a different atmosphere, this souk offers products made from metal. Artisans make copper, pewter and brass items. Another of the market's star products is spices. There's no need to look far - the bewitching scent of cinnamon or ras el hanout tickles your nostrils as soon as you arrive. It's a good opportunity to do some shopping to bring back gifts for family and friends.

A stall selling different spices in the market of Marrakech, Morocco.

- © Ekaterina Pokrovsky / Shutterstock

The Cherratine souk

In this district near the souk el Kebir, leather is the star product of one stall after another. Its distinctive smell immerses you in the oriental world. The craftsmen make poufs, shoulder bags and other bags.

Leather goods on display in the souk of Marrakech, Morocco.

- © lunamarina / Shutterstock

The Dhabia souk

Here, jewellery has pride of place and is on offer en masse. You can find necklaces, bracelets, rings and traditional Berber jewellery. While there is a wide choice, the quality varies depending on the piece chosen. While some jewellery is valuable, others are more like junk, which is no less pretty. Be careful not to buy at any price.

Handcrafted jewelry in the souk of Marrakech, Morocco.

- © Lizavetta / Shutterstock

The Fekharine souk

This souk is the place to be if you're looking for traditional pottery. Plates, typical trays, tajines, candleholders, bowls, ashtrays and salad bowls - there's no shortage of choice. Each piece is hand-decorated by a craftsman, a unique and authentic souvenir of Moroccan art.

Colorful traditional Moroccan dishes in the souk of Marrakech, Morocco.

- © Peter Wollinga / Shutterstock

The Smata souk

If you're looking for babouches, you'll find them on the stalls of this picturesque market. The selection stretches from floor to ceiling and there is something to suit every taste and size. The hardest part is choosing, as there are so many models to choose from.

A Moroccan babouche stall, Marrakech, Morocco.

- © Maciej Czekajewski / Shutterstock

What to bring back

As you will have gathered, the Moroccan souks are like Ali Baba's caves where you can find the treasures of local craftsmen. Here is a selection of the little treasures of the local market:

  • Scented squares for your wardrobe
  • Spices
  • Babouches
  • Woven baskets

Practical information

📍 Location: north of Place Jemaa-el-Fna in the heart of the Medina.

🚌 Getting there: on foot from the centre of Marrakech or by taxi from the Palmeraie.

👉 Not to be missed nearby: the Place Jemaa-el-Fna and the Bahia Palace.

A kawa on the terrace!

Because shopping makes you thirsty! Stop off at one of the market's little bars, hidden among the maze of colourful alleyways that reflect the warm sunlight of the medina. The café des épices is a beldi-chic café and one of the world-famous addresses. A must-visit spot if you're in the area.

📍 Address: 75 Derb Rahba Lakdima

Opening hours: daily from 9am to 11pm

👛 Price: from €2

Where to stay in Marrakech?

Riad Rêves D'orient Marrakech
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