Mohammed and Hassan are loaded with information about MOroccan rugs - the history, meanings, cultural value and monetary value of rugs from various tribes and regions around Morocco - including the reputation of rugs made around the Anti-Atlas.
Lots of rugs and carpets to choose, newly made from the usual carpet production places in Morocco such as Tazenakht or old and special ones often locally made from around the area - could be made from camel or sheeps wool, or cactus silk - they all can tell a story and be an interesting and meaningful cultural souvenir - especially in this area where the main way for ladies and families to make money is by handicrafts such as weaving and carpetmaking, and argane products.
Each time Ive been in here there are some special ones to get tempted by.
also cactus silk blankets, cushion covers, selection of old or new jewellery or arts and crafts, wooden items, fossils of which theres a huge supply from the sahara
Good write up and recommendations in the Lonely Planet and Footprints and climbing guidebooks - for range of carpets and less hustle
Both Mohammed and Hassan speak excellent english, and also of course french, arabic and berber - and Hassan speaks fluent German so they are both also sought after as resources for local touristic information and issues requiring translation and also for guiding groups requiring particular languages to be spoken. They are of course both very knowledgeable of the area and very well travelled around Morocco and have been dealing with visitors from all around the world for the past 20 years.
What to buy: local carpets and rugs, kilims
What to pay: depends on age, quality, tribe, design, materials, size
This is another shop selling good quality argane products and worth a look at - in a handy location with easy parking just along the road past Maison du Troc on the road out to Napoleon's Hat ie only a couple of minutes from the first roundabout coming into town or where you get off the bus.
Argan oil has been used as a beauty and skin care product and expensive cooking oil for centuries by the Berber women in the areas that it grows in Southern Morocco. It is very laborious to obtain from the nut inside a very hard shell - much like the almond nut - and therefore very labour intensive.
It has been recognised and entered the international market over the last few years as a very expensive but great product for skin and high in dietary omega.
This shop is a cooperative supporting the local area in which the argane tree grows prolifically and supplies that have a high percentage of argane oil.
The face cream is 100% argane oil and great value compared with what products are now available in the cities around Morocco aiming at selling to toursts and also at the airports - here in Tafraoute at D'Agen the 80g pot costs 100 dirham or about £8.
The 250ml bottle of body moisturising lotion is 50% argane oil, with price of 70 dirham, is lovely with jasmine added.
There are a number of body washes that have 50% argane oil content - the bottle I like has green tea and is 250ml also for 70 dirham.
Shampoos, soaps and hammam scrubs are also available.
There are also high quality cooking oils, bottles of delicious Amlou popular for spreading on bread for breakfast or special occasions such as special guests.
What to buy: Skin
These guys make great shoes and slip ons and slippers in a range of styles and colours, different soles, different purposes and for men, women and children.
,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,..as already written, Tafraoute has a particular traditional shoe for the area and thats leather red and yellow shoes - red for ladies, yellow for men - and embroidered red leather shoes. These shoes are made to wear out when working and getting around and so traditionally these shoes last!
These 2 stalls are the shops recommended by my local connections as the best shops to go to first....and have been here a number of times and always got good help, good shoes and good prices...haggled down a little even for buying in bulk....and it turns out these 2 shoemakers are brothers....
so these stalls are down in the covered markets of the babouche area and their numbers on the top of their doors.
What to pay: locals price for the embroidered shoes are 130 dirham...you might have to be pretty sharp with your haggling to get this though! buy several pairs and you will be doing some good business with the shoe maker! plain red and yellow shoes can be as low as 60 dirham and embroidered slip ons 60 dirham. but this is generally the price for locals who regularly buy or bring people to buy
this is a shop where locals have recommended to buy from if wanting Argane or items of a local nature to give them support - particularly known for good quality Amloul which is a drink or spread that is a mix of good percentage argane and honey
What to buy: argane oil for cooking or for cosmetic - such as hair and nails conditioner or body oil - soaps and creams - Argane has been receiving international recognition for its health and medicinal properties such as high levels of Omega in its cooking or salad oil - grown only in Morocco its been a longtime beauty product of Berber women for skincare and for use in the home in cooking and healing
the drink mix is recommended and can be used as a bread spread called Amloul - it tastes a bit like peanut butter but it can also come with aniseed in it which is a rather quirky flavour
What to pay: maybe 60 dirham - £4/6 euro for a coca cola bottle size of high percentage argane drink/bread spread mix with honey - cheaper than elsewhere such as commercial shops or at the airports where tourists will pay up to 10 times more especially for argane cooking oil
The embroidered or unevens unembroidered red and yellow babouche/shoes seen around the locality are a specialty of Tafraoute. Red for women generally and yellow for men. They also come in black of course but the most typical specialty for Tafraoute are red and yellow and more so the embroidered version.
Made in leather you will see the women wearing them even out in the fields or under the trees harvesting argane nuts.
There is a major souk/market day on thursdays in Tafraoute bringing people from miles around - traders and buyers - and they set up and surround the area where the permanent souk/shops are - but the permanent shops such as the babouche shops are open every day except maybe special fest days such as Eid Al Fitr or during ramadan when people go to their families to break their days fast.
Spend some time in TAfraoute and you will eventually realise that the black skirt and scarf with varying colours and designs of embroidered edging is not the only trademark but also the red or yellow shoes/babouches worn by both men and women.
The women though tend to wear an embroidered version - more so as a special event shoe but these can also be seen being worn when out working in the fields and walking around town and the countryside.
Tafraoute is well known as a babouche making centre but particularly for this embroidered style - so its quite nice to go buy a pair - they can be expensive and generally the first asking price will be around 250 dirham so a bit of haggling will be required to get the price down....and often the only way is to buy a second pair of something, whether its a cheap pair of leather slippers - so you might end up getting 2 pairs of something for 250-270 dirham.
The embroidered style is definitely using leather and then lots of colours embroidered onto it. There is also a backless version that is also studded with plastic beads along with the embroidery - this really is for special events such as a special festival.
What to pay: the asking price is a bit expensive so youll be in for some haggling - buying a few pairs will help but otherwise generally around 250 dirham a pair
In the centre of Tafraoute are several big carpet shops, like Maison Berbere and Maison Touareg, selling Berber carpets.
At the central square is an Artisanat for Berber jewellery. And there is also a souq, nice for looking and shopping.
At the entrance of the carpetshop, no bargaining and buying today.
What to buy: Berber carpets and jewellery.
Traditional leather Morrocan slippers.