viernes, 7 de noviembre de 2014

SHOPPING IN MARRAKESH. WE GUIDE YOU THROUGH THE SOUKS





Surely you know that Marrakesh has one of the most famous markets or souks of the World. In fact, the old city had its origins as a market town as it was in a crossroads for passing caravans.

Nowdays, Marrakesh is a great place for shopping. Around the souks, the trade has blossomed throughout the city and while inside the Medina is more traditional and artisanal, outside, in the new part of the city, we can find luxury and large firms as in any big city in the world. Marrakesh has not escaped from the Globalisation, but inside the Medina, in the souks, nothing has changed much and walking around them, represents a journey into the past..




From the Riad La Belle Epoque we will try to guide you through the maze of the souks of Marrakesh, recommend some shops, guide you in the art of bargaining and encourage you to do not miss one of the biggest attractions of this city. 

Come on, let's go shopping in Marrakech !.




Located in the heart of the city between the Djemaa El Fna and the Ben Youssef Mosque, and scattered along a myriad alleys, the souks or markets presents to us all genres in thousands of stores disregarding the hustle and bustle that surrounds them. These establishments of all types and sizes are crammed next to each other and it would not be unusual to find 100 stores in 100 meters street. They sell everything .......... Staples, slippers and leather, carpets; nuts, oils and cosmetics, jewelry and furniture, tourist souvenirs, fabrics of all kinds ..... It's difficult to think of something that can not be found in the souks of Marrakesh. Many of the shopkeepers are authentic artisans so don´t miss the chance to see in action tanners, carpenters, blacksmiths, jewelers, cobblers, basket weavers and cutlers, manufacturing the goods that will fill the shelves.



And what about the experience of entering in one of these establishments  where after being initially entertained by a smiling shopkeeper who will offer you mint tea. All this kind situation, will change as the time runs. The shopkeeper will try to find out if there is something that catches your attention and he will immediately launch a crazy offer that sometimes quadruple the value of the product. You should not be scared. This is part of the game and if you are really interested, then you must offer your price. Much lower, of course. The shopkeeper will answer you with a sneer, or indifference, but finally he will launch a new price, much lower that the initial one. And  this give and take will continue, perhaps between sips of tea, smiles and notches of displeasure, cold greetings and farewells and new entertainments to retain you inside the shop, a comedy or a drama, or both represented in a frantic minutes of merchant haggling ... and hopefully everything will culminate with a friendly greeting and a bag in your hands containing the desired good.





As the guilds in the Middle Ages, the artisans of the souks are grouped so we will find different markets. We offer you a tour to all of them. Just follow the map.

 To guide us, we leave from the Jemaa El Fna northbound until we reached the street Souk Semmarine. Just before the end of rue Souk Semmarine, a narrow street on the right leads to a small square, Rahba Kedima. And there we'll find the following souks::


1. Place Rahba Kedima: Kedima Rahba Square is home to numerous apothecary stalls selling traditional cosmetics and potions surrounded by wool hats and baskets.

2.Souq Btana: The aromatic Souk Btana where sheepskins are sold ready to be worked.

3. Souq Larzal: wool market in the early morning and in the afternoon perfect to find second hand clothes.


4.Criée Berbère (Souq Joutia Zrabi or Souq bereber) : The Carpets souk, one of the most picturesque with its corridors roofed with reeds. Watch auctions with carpets brought from all parts of the Atlas.


5. Souq El Kebir: All you can imagine, in leather.

6. Souq Fagharine


7. Souq Siyyaghin. The souk of jewelry.


8. Ancient Kissarias: Straight and very narrow streets filled with stalls of cotton, clothing, kaftans and blankets. This place was where the most valuable goods were offered.


9. Souq Smata: Slippers and belts.

10. Marrakech Museum.

11. Ben Youssef´s Madrassa.


12. Ben Youssef´s Mosque.


13. Souq Kimakhine: If you like musical instruments, this is your souk..Here you will find all kinds of instruments. Pay attention to the hand carved lauds.

14. Souq el Bradiia or souk of the jars

15. Souq Haddadine: Blacksmiths souks where you can see how a bicycle ends up being turned into lanterns, amid the pounding of hammers and anvils.

16. Zoco NahhasinBrass and Copper.


17. Souq Chouari: Souk of carpenters and basketry with a delicious cedar aroma.



18. Souq Sebbaghine: Dyers souk. The most photogenic. Stroll under hundreds of newly dyed fabrics.

19. Mouassine Mosque.

20. Souq Semmarine: Leather bags, backpacks, jackets, slippers, belts, poufs ...... the aroma is unmistakable. An archway marks the beginning of this souk flanked by shops selling mostly textiles and numerous souvenir products. It is covered by a large iron lattice..


21. Old Slave Market







Additionally we recommend a visit to the following souks:
 
Souq Ableuh: Olives Souk. All kinds of olives and with different dressings. A delight for the palate. Located next to the mosque Quessabine.

Souq Kchacha: Nuts souk. Hundreds of stalls of nuts, dates and delicious fruits from around the country. Perfect for a brief stop and recharge on the go.

Souq Cherratine: Souk of skins and fur. Highlights are the handcrafted riding chairs. It is at the end of Rue Souk El Kebir, past the Kissarias.




The souks are usually open daily from 9.00 to 19.00 and closed on Friday mornings.
.


You may wonder what you can find in the souks of Marrakech ...

Almost everything, and as the most typical products are often artisanal you will witness its process. Among these are the following:


 - Traditional Moroccan Lamps & Mirrors: Made with leather, brass, copper, wrought iron. There´s no material which can not turn into a beautiful lamp or lantern.


 - Leather items: slippers, poufs, bags, small furnitures, belts, jackets, all made using ancient techniques.




 - Textiles: Highlights are the rugs of all sizes, colors and, of course, prices. But there are also beautiful chilabas and scarves.



- Metal Objects: From teapots or plattres to wall sconces. Also look for the magnificent glass tea sets..


- Wooden objects: beautiful carved boxes and furniture of all types and sizes. Very famous chess boards





 - Ceramics: Tagines and kitchenware, tableware and containers will add a touch of color and exoticism to your table.




 - Baskets and Hats: Stop for a while and watch the women weaving these utensils.




 - Gastronomic products:  Delicious dates, olives, spices of all kinds and color, honey and almond sweets, nuts ..... give a touch of color and scent to the stalls selling these products.

-Cosmetics and Herbalists In Marrakech there is a huge variety of healthy food stores and pharmacies offering traditional remedy for all kind of diseases. Very famous is the Argan oil, fundamental in the Berber culture. Cultivated for centuries for culinary and cosmetic uses, the Argan oil is rich in natural ingredients that play an important role in cell renewal and regeneration. (Works perfectly on wrinkles and dry skin, reduces visible marks left by pimples or chickenpox, and other skin injuries such as burns or irritation) is also used for the care of the scalp restoring shine to the hair through its highly nutritional capacity and strengthens the nails. Finally it is also used to relieve joint pains and is very popular for body massages..


You can see a sample of these products in the website http://artesania-marroqui.com/, an online shop where you can buy conveniently from home countless items produced in Morocco.
 



If you go shopping in Marrakech, then you won´t have to stay within the Medina and souks. In the Nouvelle Ville or new city, you will find luxury shops and all kind of franchises such as Gucci, Zara or Mango. In Gueliz, there are many  designer shops where you will find beautiful bags from leading brands at a bargain price (although probably without label).In fact, many  leather firms have their factories in Morocco.


Most of those stores have fixed prices and credit cards are accepted so if you do not have much time to argue a price, this is your shooping area

.



If you are planning to come  to Marrakech and do some shopping we invite you to have a look to the following lines where we list some of our favorite stores:


Mustapha Blaoui: Ali Baba's cave without the 40 thieves (unless you find the  prices exorbitant). A huge door gives access to this warehouse full of treasures where you will find everything from giant chandeliers and carpets to all types of furniture.

Address: 142-4 Rue Bab Doukkala Medina
Hours: 09: 00-20: 00


Cooperative Artisanale Femmes de Marrakech: Women artisans cooperative where you will find everything from wooden bowls to tea sets, carpets, leather slippers and all the most typical souvenirs.
Address: 67, Souq Kchachbia
Hours: 9:30-12:3 & 14:30-18:30




Abdellatif Instruments: Admire hundreds of lutes and stringed instruments hanging on the walls of this small establishment. Hopefully you'll hear a musician playing one of them.This is one of the places to visit to musicians around the world.

Address: 86, Kchachbia souk, near the souk Haddadine
Hours: 09: 30-18: 00




Jamade: Colorful pottery and jewelry store with Berber handmade designs mixed with modern, original and fixed price products.

Address: 1 Plaçe Douar Graoua corner rue Riad Zitoun el-Jadid
Hours: 10 -13.30 & 15.30-19.30




 
Atelier Moro: Or Marrakesh´s best kept secret. This fashion shop is next to the Mouassine fountain, hidden behind a green door. Access by a narrow staircase to this cave full of treasures.

Address: 114 Place of Mouassine
Closed on Friday
 

Masroure Abdillah: This artisan works wool like anybody else making shoes, ornaments, bags and all sorts of gadgets. .
Address: 53, Souk Lebbadine

Carpets Ben Rahal: Carpets of high quality at a fixed price. Perfect if you want the rug of your dreams without having to haggle or feeling cheated.

Address: 28, Rue de la Liberte.
Hours: 09: 30-13: 30 & 15: 30-19: 00 Monday-Saturday



Mademoiselle Ibtissam's Original Design: For tableware, linens, and everything you could need in your table. Products of the highest quality and original designs at bargain prices. A colorfull show.
Address : 47, Place des Ferblantiers.
Hours  09:30-12:30 & 14:30-19:30

Creations Pneumatiques: Admire the creations of this recycling master craftsman
Address 110 Rue Riad Zitoun el-Kedim
Hours 07:00-10:00


Herboriste Avicenne: Ancient Herbalistl with shelves full of oils, fragrances, all kinds of herbs and spices.
Address: 113, Rahba Lakdima Souk Laghzel 172-174


L’Art du Bain Savonnerie Artisanale: Original bath products with a fixed price. A perfect gift if you have little room in your luggage.
Address: Souq Lebbadine, next to Souk Sebbaghine
Hours  9:30-19:30


L’Art du Bois: Beautiful kitchen utensils made ​​from olive wood.
Address: 37, Souk el Kebir


 Akbar Delights: Boutique for the wealthy. Everything and the best ..... and expensive, of course. .
www.akbardelights.com
Address: Place Bab Fteuh
Hours 10.00-13.00 / 15.00-19.30; closed on Mondays

 
Aya's Marrakech: For celebrities. It is said that here is where Sarah Jessica Parker buys their caftans.
http://www.ayasmarrakech.com/

Address: 11 Bis, Derb Jdid Bab Mellah,


About Prices and the art of haggling
Welcome to the paradise of haggling. Moroccan people have this art in their blood and they can not imagine to close any deal without doing it ......This is Morocco, the cost of living and prices are cheaper than in Europe or North America, so for them, tourists are presupposed to have their pockets full of dollars or euros and they must take advantage of that.  If we add that most tourists are not used to bargaining, and they tend to close deals too soon it is not surprising that the deal ends up being a lucrative activity for the vendor.

You shouldn´t miss the experience of haggling during your stay in Marrakech. It´s  fun and a perfect exercise of self-control, patience and gestural strategy. It is an art that is learned and improved with practice and time. Good not only for your pocket but also for your self-esteem. You could even say that at the end, you will love the objects obtained in the transaction, and you will always remeber how them ended in your hands. We will give you some tips to close a good deal:

If in your walks around the souks you get too close to any stall or you show too much interest on anything, the seller will greet you immediately in your language (making you wonder how do they know where are you from) . If you are not interested at all, it is better to let him know since the beginning. If you are not sure, keep on looking. Of course, at that time, without realizing it, you will be subject to a sympathetic questioning about your origins, your football team, even about your family situation .... And surprisingly you will end up answering to everything.
 . 

If something catches your eye and you want to know the price, ask for it and stoically endure the first price the vendor will launch ..... Take it easy, it's just the way it is, this first price will be the triple of the one you're willing to pay. If you are interested on buying the item, cast a price well below (a quarter of the initial one will be reasonable). The seller will respond either with a smile or with face of disinterest, or even angry. It depends on the role he wants to play at that time. The best thing is to do the same and if it helps, act like your favorite actor or actress. Have fun, without being disrespectful and only if you are really interested in buying at a reasonable price. You will see that after a period of time the price will be lower, but just a little bit. It is his turn, don´t rush him and be patient.

Once  is your turn again, you must consider the percentage of his discount. If it is very low, be tenacious and offer a lower price. If his first bet is very high, yours must be much lower.

The best strategy is to fix in your mind a target and offer little by little a higher price, do not rush or you will loose the battle.

Finally you will get close to your ideal price and the deal will be closed.

Ideally you will never pay more than half of the initial price and in case the vendor resists to lower the price, just leave the shop...he will run after you asking for a new opportunity or not, it will depends on the margin...Nobody wants to loose money.




And now, that you know all these tips, why don´t you practice your haggling skills while shopping in Marrakech? You will enjoy it, that´s for sure.
 

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