There’s nothing dark and mysterious in the medina of Marrakech, especially if you’re in the apparel section. Shoe stalls literally screamed color.
Cramming hand-made leather slippers onto the walls of tiny nooks must take patience and skill, but every shoe stall was packed to overflowing.
All lined up: Yellow shoes in the Marrakech medina
From pom-poms to fancy stitches to pointy toes, the shoes of Marrakech were not to be denied. And yellow ones took center stage in many displays. My favorite: the ones made of cut-up rugs, or at least that what they looked like to me! But all were picture-worthy (if you could get permission to snap away)!
Old meets new as a man in traditional Moroccan dress chats with a friend in motorcycle attire.
We’re people watchers (especially when we travel), fascinated by how people work, worship, and live in countries other than our own. And in Marrakech, how people move from one place to another was in stark contrast to how we get around in the U.S. Rarely did we see cars in lanes (lines on the street were merely a suggestion in some places), and ingenuity ruled the day as far as transportation went. People got around any way they could — from carts to motorcycles to bikes to skate boards. Here are a few glimpses of transportation, Marrakech style.
Not just for tourists in Jemaa el-Fnaa. Locals hopped on, too.
Donkeys with carts
Piled high and to the breaking point.
Waiting to deliver the goods, a donkey stands tethered in a Marrakech marketplace.
Carts piled high
Adding a third wheel actually doubles what you can haul!
Carts piled low
Have flatbed, will deliver — open and airy transportation, for sure.
And carts filled to overflowing!
No comment needed. We have no idea how people negotiate mile-high loads!
Walking gets you there.
Ladies at Koutoubia Mosque get around by foot — possibly the most expedient way in crowded tourist areas.
And so does riding.
A cyclist whizzing by? Not following the lanes? Just another day in the streets of the medina.
But at the end of the day, a cart can be anything you want it to be.
Mats laid out for the Call to Prayer at Koutoubia Mosque, Marrakech
Since we love the brevity and pop of Instagram, we’ve decided to share — in short bursts of photography — a few images that have stayed with us after a visit to the colorful, exotic city of Marrakech in a series titled Memories of Marrakech. Here’s the first one: The Mats at Koutoubia Mosque.
Prayer mats laid out end to end on an area adjacent to Koutoubia.
Koutoubia Mosque is a central landmark of Marrakech, a place where tour guides begin an explanation of the city and its people. We marveled at the sandstone and brick architecture, the horseshoe windows, and multifoil arches. And we were fascinated by the fact that the first mosque built on the site had an error in orientation — those who prayed on the plaza surrounding Koutoubia really weren’t facing Mecca as they should be doing. A new mosque soon took the place of the first “disoriented” one.
Doorway at Koutoubia Mosque
Window detail: Koutoubia Mosque
Signature arches at Koutoubia Mosque
But what we found most fascinating during Ramadan (when we visited) were the dozens and dozens of mats all lined up ready for Call to Prayer. It’s an image that has stuck with us ever since. Although we never witnessed people praying, we could imagine how the plaza might look with so many devout worshipers in one place. Definitely a focal point for Marrakech and this cultural, religious center of town.
Looking down into the courtyard of Riad Les Yeux Bleus, Marrakech.
Although I’ve heard from many people traveling to Marrakech that it’s difficult to book a night at Riad Les Yeux Bleus, but please give it a shot as early as you can. Near all the action of the city yet in a very quiet place, Riad Les Yeux Bleus is tucked away in the medina only ten minutes from Jemaa el Fna and offers all the luxury you’d ever want in a Moroccan riad.
Places for relaxation, sipping mint tea, and swimming — all in the courtyard at Riad Les Yeux Bleus.
A riad is a traditional Moroccan house with an interior courtyard or garden. Riad LesYeux Bleus takes advantage of its open-air space by flanking a crystal clear pool with lounge chairs and tables where afternoon tea or cocktails await. As you might expect, heavily carved doors open to the courtyard adorned with tall, leafy plants and colorful Moroccan tiles. But the unexpected is also quite nice — like lush banquettes offering a quiet respite for two or a group meeting for a party of four or five.
Alcoves and lounge chairs offer luxurious relaxation at Riad Les Yeux Bleus.
In good weather, the rooftop is the place to be — ample seating in clay-colored decor bounded by the exotic fronds and colorful flowers you’ve come to love in Morocco.
Rooftop lounge area
Pool area on the rooftop of Riad Les Yeux Bleus
But no matter what you do at Riad Les Yeux Bleus, don’t miss dinner where you are seated among layers of patterns and colors and served Morocca specialities on a silver platter.
Dinner is served at Riad Les Yeux Bleus
It’s comfortable in this romantic room off the courtyard where rich colors of Moroccan rugs contrast with white columns and tablecloths. Elegant. Simple. And oh, so Moroccan.
Elegant dining at Riad Les Yeux Bleus
And the dishes just keep coming — Moroccan specialties like salads, brochettes, and pastilles made of fresh ingredients (bought at markets in the medina, perhaps?). You’ll be happy your stay for the night is just around the corner in this intimate eight-room riad.
First course: Moroccan salads, olives and almonds
Chicken brochettes for two
Pastilla covered in powdered sugar, cinnamon, and almonds
For convenience, impeccable service, authentic decor, and bountiful repasts, book a room at Riad Les Yeux Bleus. But do it soon. You won’t want to stay anywhere else if the medina’s shopping and hubbub are what you’re in Marrakech to see!
Loving the service and surroundings at beautiful Riad Les Yeux Bleus.
— Rusha Sams
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Birds-eye view of the Marrakech plaza known as Jemaa el-Fnaa.
If you enjoyed seeing the Marrakechmedina — that dizzy meld of colorful goods in tiny shops — then you’ll love passing through the giant plaza to get there. But caution: you’ll stop and stare. A lot.
The name, Jemaa el-Fnaa (sometimes spelled Djemma el F’na) means “assembly of the dead,” since it’s been the site of public executions since 1050. In all the world, Jemaa el-Fnaa could be one of the most memorable public squares you’ll ever see.
A lady applies henna designs to the hands of a customer in a temporary booth on the plaza.
During the day, it’s a market place where hawkers of all things Moroccan set out hand carved camels, rugs, and pottery.
A seller of carved wooden camels waits for buyers in Jemaa el-Fnaa.
Carts filled with produce file past you, making deliveries or selling to customers right on the spot.
Selling produce in busy Jemaa el-Fnaa
An egg salesman moves past other stalls making deliveries
But come 5:00 or so in the evening, and Jemaa el-Fnaa starts puts on its party hat. Vendors open up big green tents showing off rows and rows of colorful fruit and trinkets tourists love.
Stalls open up offering fruit and tourist trinkets on the plaza known as Jemaa el-Fnaa.
Fruit stall No. 18 with tidy rows of bottled water, oranges and other tropical fruits.
Looking like a patchwork quilt, rows of nuts and dates wait for customers.
And sellers of live snails offer you a to-go cup so you can steam ’em at home.
A seller of snails ready to scoop up a ladle full for you.
Need a bigger meal? Men in green tented stalls fire up the grills offering cooked meats with sides of couscous, tagine vegetables, and olives, of course.
You’re not in Kansas anymore: heads and meat ready for purchase in Marrakech!
The real party, though, is center stage where monkey handlers beckon you to come in closer. Not to worry. A few dirhams is all it takes for a photo as close – or as far away – as you care to be.
A monkey handler shows off for the camera in Jemaa el-Fnaa.
Snake handlers lay out their best cobras and patterned slitherers sure to elicit an “ooh, ah,” or more likely “I’m not coming any closer” from the crowd.
At dusk, the cobras come out.
“Heads up. Tourists are watching!”
This is as close as I wanted to be.
In the background, the thumping vibe of African drums and metal clappers draws you closer to red robed dancers who invite you (most persuasively) to line up and stomp to the beat. So we did. Here’s Chef Joanne Weirwho brought our group from Culinary Journey inMorocco2018 to the plaza. And then, like the good sport she is, started movin’ and groovin’ Marrakech style.
If you only get one chance to dance in Jemaa el-Fnaa, take it. Chef Joanne Weir did.
On our second visit to Jemaa el-Fnaa, we found an even better place to see this aggregate of sights and sounds: up top at a restaurant balcony. For the price of an orange soda, we nabbed premium seats for the unfettered chaos below.
If you’re squeamish in crowds, sit this one out. Go sip hot tea in a posh, beautifully tiled restaurant. But if you’re looking for sensory overload from hard-driving music, the whoosh of undirected vehicles, foreign foods in outrageous stalls, and people moving willy nilly in and among and around, you have to take in Jemaa el-Fnaa. Only in Marrakech.
“So whadya think, Harry? A lot of tourists today?”
Furry felines flourish in Morocco. And maybe they have for years. Not sure about the history of it all, but everywhere we went, there was another cat — or two or three or so.
One guide told our group in Marrakech that Moroccans like cats better than dogs. “They are clean animals. You know how they lick their paws and clean their whole bodies? Dogs don’t do that!”
Could be, we thought. After all, cleansing is part of Muslim ritual, so it makes sense. Whatever the explanation, we rarely saw a dog the whole three weeks in Morocco. In Marrakech especially, cats were everywhere — parks, monuments, the medina, and homes. We spied our first cat couple on the cobblestone plaza at Koutoubia Mosque. They looked like two old people camped out watching the tourists go by.
Asleep at the door: Marrakech
Cats seemed to have the run of the place just about anywhere, but especially in the Marrakech medina. Perhaps it’s because Muslims would prefer to put bowls of leftover food and scraps near the stalls for their furry friends rather than throw good food away. We liked that.
A motorcycle seat makes a fine cat bed in the Marrakech medina.
In Bahia Palace, it didn’t seem to bother the resident furry ones that hundreds of visitors per day passed through their home. After all, who’s going to let a few foreigners disturb a perfectly good nap?
Asleep on the stoop: Bahia Palace, Marrakech
Even in the early 1800s when the palace was built, special accommodations were made for this favorite of all Moroccan animals. See that little hole? It’s a going-in-and-coming-out place for — well, you guessed it. Now we know who really had the run of the house! (And it wasn’t the 24 concubines kept on the premises.)
Cat door in Bahia Palace
Some cats, like this one in Chefchaouen (the blue town) seemed to be posing for pictures — much like the tourists do. (And, yes, you’ll see us standing beside a blue door, too, in an upcoming post on this charming town.) Ready, set, smile!
Cat on a doorstep: Chefchaouen, Morocco
We’re not so sure that Moroccan cats even care that they might be upstaging a take-back-home, frame-worthy picture. Like this little critter who just nonchalantly strolled through the stables at Heri Es Souani in Meknes. We were posing so our guide could take what she said was “the one picture you’re going to treasure from this trip.” But here came this cat, just calmly photo-bombing our photo image from beautiful Morocco. Could it be that cat snobbery exists all over the world? Maybe so. It’s at least one thing we have in common.
We’ve been photo bombed — by a cat in Meknes, Morocco. Oh, well.
As always, thanks for traveling with us. — Rusha and Bert Sams
Shopping for preserved goods and spices in open bowls: Marrakech medina
No culinary experience in Morroco, especially Chef Joanne Weir’s Culinary Journey, would be complete with a trip to the Marrakech medina. It’s there that the freshest, most colorful foods are piled high for what is truly a feast for the eyes. And once you get home, the makings of a feast for all!
Rich, colorful olives
Sack full of fava beans
Green and black olives in open bowls: Marrakech medina
Bags of spices: Marrakech medina
It begins outside where donkeys and carts of all shapes and sizes bring in the goods. Everything from spices to herbs to fresh-picked fruits make their way over cobblestone plazas to the open markets or through winding alleyways to markets inside.
Trucking fresh food into the medina on a busy market day.
Herbs by bicycle: Marrakech medina
Spices become art forms as conical shapes in colors of the Mediterranean stand tall awaiting shoppers looking for such delicacies as cumin, coriander, turmeric, and cinnamon.
Cones of spices form a backdrop for open bags garlic and crushed ingredients.
Herbs aren’t packaged in plastic, as we may see in the U. S. They’re more likely to be found in armloads — thick, green, and aromatic.
Outside the medina, a seller of herbs awaits customers.
Ready for purchase during Ramadan (May 17 to June 14, 2018) are sweet treats for the season. Of course, those who fast wait until evening to dive into these goodies.
Bowls and platters hold sweets for Ramadan in this medina stall in Marrakech.
Going to the medina with Chef Joanne Weir meant frequenting her favorite places. Like this booth filled with preserved lemons, onions, and olives of various shapes, colors and sizes literally overflowing their massive bowls.
Olives, lemons, spices, and preserves — a colorful stall in the Marrakech medina.
And if we had needed eggs, we could have bought them . . . with the chickens as well.
Fresh eggs and chickens: Marrakech medina
Rich brown dates begged to be touched — so we bought some and ate them while we walked!
Dates for sale in Marrakech
If you live in the medina, you can bake your homemade bread in community ovens. (Look closely to see the baker hard at work inside this one pulling out round flatbreads brought to him by residents.)
Community bread oven with baker inside.
Flat breads cooling near one of many community ovens in Marrakech.
Our culinary group counted ourselves lucky to catch this in action: young men spinning werqa dough (similar to phyllo) used in making pastilla, a meat pie usually filled with pigeon and apricots and topped with powdered sugar and cinnamon. (But I have to say that the chicken version we cooked later in the week ranked right up there with one of my favorite dishes of Morocco.)
Spinning werqa dough, a dough used for making pastilla.
Every turn in the medina market offered a different glimpse into Moroccan culture and cuisine. How grateful I was for the opportunity to shop for fresh goods in a truly remarkable place: the Marrakech medina!
A stall filled with pierced metal lighting in the Marrakech medina.
Shopping is nothing new to Marrakech. Located at the end of the Salt Road and on the way north to Casablanca and Rabat, visitors have poured into Marrakech for centuries as a place for goods, but mostly a feast for the senses.
I don’t pretend to have seen all of the Marrakech medina, even after three trips. But I loved what I saw. From the outside tourist stalls to the winding, skinny unnamed streets that take you past booths filled with everything from antiques to leather goods to basketry and pierced metal lighting, the medina offers an overload of colors, smells, and sounds.
If there’s one piece of advice to pass on, it’s this: first-timers need a guide. Negotiating narrow alleyways with sharp turns where stalls can look alike means you can — and probably will — get lost. After all, you’re rarely focusing on where you’re going.: You’re too busy looking at what’s for sale. My first day in the medina was spent with two women from California, Susan Gaither and Kendra Hodder, who arrived at Jnane Tamsna one day early, as I did, for our Culinary Journey to Morocco with Chef Joanne Weir.
In an outside stall, painted little painted open-door mirrors form a backdrop for a collection of mirrored boxes.
Colorful bags and baskets of spices: Marrakech medina
Wooden marquetry boxes on the right; tin items on the left ; baskets overhead!
And when you arrive at the medina, there’s more to see than you can imagine. Like these hands of Fatima, named after the daughter of the prophet Muhammad. The hands, our guide told us, are protective signs bringing the owner a sense of safety, happiness, and good luck.
Hands of Fatima offer protection from evil. We all need one, right?
I really had to hold back in this shop offering some of the finest work on inlaid pieces of furniture, hand-painted pottery, and carvings all in rich Moroccan style.
A home decor shop offered some of the finest pieces in the medina: inlaid tiles, carved wood tables, vases, bowls, and candlesticks.
Blends of white marble and black painted pieces filled this accessory shop in the Marrakech.
Pottery shops became one of our favorite places as well, but we had a hard time figuring out how to pack blue-and-white painted bowls, platters, and salt cellars into our suitcases to take home. (Some of us — I’m not saying who — bought an extra suitcase!)
Lovely painted pottery lined the walls of one stall in the Marrakech medina.
Designer clothing hung over our heads in this shop, but the owner willingly brought pieces down to our level to try on or hold up to see if they would fit.
The designer himself was in this clothing shop to take down any items we wanted to try on.
Our guide, Sharif, took us to a basket place that was touristy, but we didn’t mind. After all, we thought we’d look pretty sassy carrying a Marrakech tote to this beach this summer.
Our guide, Sharif, shows Kendra Hodder the popular pompom we saw on baskets and shoes.
But my favorite areas of the medina were the souks where artisans work every day but Friday crafting specialty items by hand. Families sometimes worked together as this one did in Souk Cherratine where bags, poufs, and coats of camel-skin (most expensive) or goat-hide (more reasonably priced) are made.
This young boy helps his father make leather poufs by cutting out the circles for the bottoms.
A maker of leather poufs took time to pose with my friends Susan Gaither and Kendra Hodder from California.
Souk Smata is devoted to traditional leather slippers. Saffron yellow slippers, we were told, are most popular among adults in Fes. But we chose some for our grandchildren embellished with pom pom balls.
Yellow slippers all in a row in the Marrakech medina.
Overhead in the dyers souk (Souk des Tenturiers) you dodge shanks of yarn hanging from rafters or bamboo coverings. Shopkeepers told us this was cactus silk made from the agave plant. Whatever it was, it took the rich color of the dye quite well. And it was here that we found men who actually didn’t mind if we took their picture. One even posed for the “crazy ladies from the U.S.”
Dyers in Souk des Tenturiers, Marrakech
Dyed yarn hangs from the ceiling: Marrakech
Dyer posing for picture: Marrakech medina
Finally, our guide found us a place to sit down — in a carpet shop. Little did we know that we would spend two hours watching as men rolled out one Berber after another, letting us know regions of origin or weaving techniques or the meaning of the embedded patterns. But sitting down felt good. And we bought rugs we didn’t even know we needed. Not only that, a special treat awaited: hot mint tea! Let the carpet show begin!
Olena Snow, Elena Lebedeva, and Elena Mosko find a handsome Berber rug in the Marrakech medina.
Rugs stacked to the ceiling: Marrakech medina
Most popular colors? Perhaps so.
Rug salesmen unfold rugs while we watch in the Marrakech medina.
In our last souk of the day, Souk Haddadine, blacksmiths and woodworkers plied their trades in small, small spaces.
Whittling with his feet in an old, traditional way.
Working in small spaces: Marrakech Medina
On the way out, we stopped by an argan oil shop to watch ladies in traditional dress shell argan nuts from the Argania spinosa tree. The oil is extracted from the nuts and sold in several forms from lotions to pure oil meant to soften your skin. A great takeaway from Marrakech.
Shelling argan nuts in the Marrakech medina.
Of course, there’s far more in the Marrakech medina. My next post will feature food (at least the stalls that would allow photos of what they offer) sold within and outside the medina.
A sight to see: the Marrakech medina!
Colorful stalls, sounds of motorcycles whizzing through winding maze-like alleyways, artisans hard at work — just another day in Marrakech!
If you ask anyone about Moroccan cooking — whether they live in Morocco or somewhere around the world — the person is bound to mention tagine. A tagine is a cooking vessel with a sort of upside-down-funnel-shaped top that fits tightly on a deep saucer. It holds an assortment of meats and vegetables, allowing the steam generated from the cooking to rise and caress those meats and veggies in a blending way. But the word tagine is also used alone to indicate what’s for dinner — as in, “We’re having tagine tonight.” We found tagine dishes in almost every restaurant and riad we visited. So, it’s no wonder that ChefJoanne Weir and Chef Bahijaof Jnane Tamsna chose tagine cooking for our first adventure in preparing Moroccan cuisine.
In a charming outdoor “room” with twig lattice walls and covered top, 15 participants in Joane Weir’s Culinary Journey in Morocco 2018 took their seats, picked up their knives and went to work. And I was proud to be among them!
Ready to make chicken tagine in the utdoor classroom at Jnane Tamsna
The ever-vigilant Jnane Tamsna staff had started the fires of individual cookers on outdoor tables, so we were ready to begin.
Individual cookers for tagine cooking class.
There are some basics with cooking Chicken Tagine, our menu item for Day 1. Although there are no required ingredients, we were told that most tagine dishes include a meat like chicken or lamb, spices (mostly salt, pepper, turmeric and saffron), diced red onion, and extra virgin olive oil. For our chicken tagines, we first chopped red onion and laid it on the bottom of the tagine. Step two involved seasoning the chicken pieces with spices and herbs in various amounts.
Layers of chopped onion, seasoned chicken and spices in a pottery tagine.
Joanne and Bahija explained the types of spices used in Morocco, adding suggestions on how much or how little to use. But even with their suggestions, we had the leeway to choose our own spices in the amounts we found most satisfying. (I found that to be true for most of what we cooked during our CulinaryJourney: we had the freedom to make the dishes our own.) For my chicken tagine, I went a bit heavy with salt and pepper, lighter on turmeric. And then I slathered my chicken with cilantro and garlic. Others ventured out with a blend of spices called ras el hanout.
Vegetables are piled high atop seasoned chicken and chopped onion. Do you see little threads of saffron on top?
Next, we added vegetables or fruits to our liking. For a chicken tagine heavy on vegetables, Chef Bahija and Chef Joanne laid out quite the variety: tomatoes, carrots, zucchini, peppers, fava beans, and olives. But if you wanted a sweeter tagine, there was something for you as well: apricots, apples, almonds, prunes, dates, raisins and pear. As I said, your tagine was yours — from the choices you made to how to finely you chopped ingredients and even how you arranged it all into a pile.
Melissa Hamilton (Locust Grove, GA) added fruit to her chicken tagine.
Nancy Maland (Knoxville, TN) selecting vegetables to top seasoned chicken in her tagine.
And what fun it was! Some even became a bit giddy at this “doable dish.” After all, the mystique of cooking tagine was over. This was one dish we could make at home!
The mother-daughter team of Susan Gaither and Kendra Hodder from California had fun showing off their tagines!
After layering the chosen veggies or sweets atop our chicken, we carried our tagines to the cooking table where Chefs Bahija and Joanne added water to each unit. And the waiting began.
Courtney Steinberg (Stoughton, MA) places her tagine on the cooker.
Chef Bahija adding water to the individual tagines.
It wasn’t long before the steam inside the pottery tagines had done its magic, converting raw ingredients into a savory or sweet treat. When all was done, we gathered at an outdoor table to eat what we cooked, thanks to the patience and guidance of our two chefs, Bahija and Joanne.
Chefs Bahija and Joanne making cooking fun in Morocco!
Cooking tagine was definitely fun, but so was another custom we learned from our guides. Every time someone took our picture, we heard this: “Say Tagine“! (And we smiled, loving this alternative to the “Say Cheese” we’d always heard.) “Say Tagine” became our go-to command whenever we took pictures of our group. And there was much to smile about in our Culinary Journey in Morocco! Say Tagine, ladies!
Dramatic palm trees grace the arched entrance to one of the houses at Jnane Tamsna.
As the driver pulled onto the property known as Jnane Tamsna, I could immediately feel as if a true Moroccan adventure were unfolding before me. Jnane Tamsna is like no other resort or boutique hotel in Morocco — or maybe anywhere — thanks to the impeccable design sense of its owner MeryAnne Loum-Martin, a lawyer from Senegal who studied in Paris. Together with her husband Dr. Gary Martin, a American ethnobotanist and founder of the Global Diversity Foundation, MeryAnne created an oasis near Marrakech that is now the only black female owned hotel in Morocco. With its 24 rooms spread among five houses on nine acres, Jnane Tamsna has opened its doors, according to Essence magazine, to Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Giorgio Armani, and Donna Karen, but was my home for a week-long Culinary Journey in Morocco led by San Francisco chef Joanne Weir.
The simple yet dramatic entrance to Jnane Tamsna.
The sense of calm is evident upon arrival. With a single palm at the entrance, a series of archways led me through the simple, yet elegant main entrance complete with roses floating in a crystal bowl sitting upon a typical Moroccan inlaid chest. An open book on another invited me to register as a guest.
Floating roses atop an inlaid chest invite guests in for a stay at Jnane Tamsna.
The living room became a favorite for me and others with its velvet chairs, indigenous art, and soft lighting.
Gathering room at Jnane Tamsna
An alcove in the main room invites guests to spend a private moment sipping mint tea offered upon arrival. And books stacked willy-nilly make anyone feel right at home.
Comfortable alcove flanked by bookshelves invite guests into the main room at Jnane Tamsna.
Outside, gathering places remain intimate, offering a respite from the jangle of the crowded souks in downtown Marrakech.
Favorite outdoor lounging area with painted tryptych and carved wood panel.
A stroll through the gardens reveals native plants marked for ready identification. Natural pathways offer closer looks, especially if they’re bordered by twig trellises and blooming bougainvillea, but they’re also where guests wind down on their way to beautiful lodging rooms.
Trellises bearing bougainvillea
Nasturtiums in bloom
Pathways to individual houses
Twig trellises at Jnane Tamsna
Pathways defining planting areas at Jnane Tamsna
Some of the houses offer spots for gathering. With their Moroccan furnishings — tapestries, weighty furniture, patterned rugs — guests take in the sensory stimuli reminiscent of the beauty of the area.
An outdoor gathering spot takes in the afternoon sun through the vine-covered archways.
Indoor gathering spot with red patterned accessories:
Three rooms that I visited were all different. Painted a deep purplish red, one room was a study in contrasts: cream-colored floor-to-ceiling curtains hung loosely and a patterned rug offered more texture and design.
In another, twin beds under a lush canopy awaited guests and offered a sprig of rosemary on the pillows.
Adding drama to this suite called Calligraphie for its frieze of Arabic writing near the ceiling, was an African garment displayed at the end of an arched hallway.
A third room held a welcoming basket of freshly-picked flowers.
Dining, too, is an experience at Jnane Tamsna. At one end of the back dining room hangs a colorful, patterned textile and multiple framed portraits. On the ceiling, twigs woven into a grid form a nature-inspired covering.
Moroccan patterns in the dining room.
Branches woven into a grid adorn the ceiling of the dining room at Jnane Tamsna.
It’s no wonder that people book Jnane Tamsna for special occasions — wedding receptions, reunions, corporate retreats, cooking schools, and the like. After all, who wouldn’t want to dine at tables set under the trees overlooking an elegant pool?
Dinner setting under the trees.
Of course, the real treat at Jnane Tamsna is the cadre of people who are ready to serve, to answer questions, to guide you in your travels, and to make you feel at home in this serene oasis right outside Marrakech. I hope you’ll follow along as I share glimpses of my Culinary Journey in Morocco 2018 with Chef Joanne Weir. You can’t help but feel the calm and fall in love with the setting that, to me, was the best introduction to Morocco anyone could have.
At the final banquet: Chef Joanne Weir and MeryAnne Loum-Martin