As in my previous tips, This shop was a highlight of my holiday.
Mr Doudi Mohamed, is a Master Craftsman- his craft work is of high quality, reasonably (fixed)priced.
When I next visit Marrakesh, I'll definitely call here again to purchase more goods.
What to buy: Babouches- a wide range of styles/ colours to chose from
Handbags- various styles/sizes and colours- I was spoilt for choice, but eventually settled on 3- 2 to keep (as in the picture) and a red bag, like the black one in the picture for my Mother.
I use the 'yellow' one every day now, and it's very handy- plus it still smells wonderful- a reminder of my holiday every day!!
What to pay: I paid about £45 for all of these 3 handcrafted bags- A Bargain!!
After visiting Dar Si Said and the Tiskiwin museum, I passed by this shop. Mr Mohamed was sat in the doorway, sewing a piece of leather. He showed me the special way that he sewed the leather pieces, by using a series of needles and twisting the thread over and around the needles to produce an attractive and very secure seam. I noticed that he had a wide selection of babouches of all colours, handbags and belts. I asked if he'd made all of these, which he had, he showed me his certificate too, which showed that he was highly skilled.
This gentle modest man didn't attempt to ask me to buy anything. I wasn't shopping that day, but asked for his business card, as I intended to return to buy a pair of fuscia pink babouches that were a 'must have'!!
When I returned a few days later, he proudly showed me the completed pouffe that he'd been working on.
Besides the babouches (175dh) I bought 3 leather bags . My bill was a total of 700dh (£45)
These are fixed prices, I was very pleased with my purchases, high quality hand crafted goods, with a pleasant shopping experience!
What to buy: Babouches..beautiful colours, the softest leather,and hand sewn.
Mr Mohamed had a wide selection of colours and styles. Plain or decorated with tassels etc. 'snakeskin' and other designs.
Leather bags, shoulder bags or hand bag style.
Belts with buckles
Leather pouffes (cushions for sitting on)
What to pay: Babouches 175 dh
I think bags started at 145 dh
Fixed prices. Though if purchasing multiple items, You might get a discount
We liked doing our shopping in this place. The owner was very NICE to me, hihihihi. He was eating me with his eyes, hihihihi
Really, I got there a nice scarves. He was pretty good with lowering down his prices.
And he gave me his GSM phone number just on case I would ever feel lonely and wanted to call him.
No, really it was fun to shop there, and Santo didn't mind.
What to buy: His name was Mounabi Abdelati
I'd been coveting a leather pouffe since my first day in Morocco - but after being conned with various purchases, I'd given up. On my last day, Ensemble Artisanal came to the rescue. The great thing about his complex of shops is that it has set prices, though discounts may be offered. And that means you have a ballpark figure to work with, whether you decide to buy here or shop around elsewhere. Having a reference price takes much of the stress and guesswork out of Moroccan shopping, I've found.
A number of the shops feature the craftspeople creating the items and there is a general lack of the pressure to buy that is so persistent everywhere else in the city.
The range of items is good, but it is rather soulless compared to the souks - the real advantage to this place is gaining an idea of the going price for the various Marrakesh goods. Come and have a look here before being ripped off!
What to buy: I've never been anywhere that has as many must-buy souvenirs as Marrakesh! The following are things that the Ensemble Artisanal does particularly well:
Leather pouffes and bags
Painted wooden tables
What to pay: The important bit - I'd been told 400 Dhs for a pouffe on my first day (down from 600) and paid 180 here. Better hagglers than me could get the price down, I imagine.
The thing about shopping is... I mean; when you're a guy - it sucks. That being said, some of the best places to be when travelling are the markets and shopping areas and the Souks are the best example of that. Leading out from the northern edge of the Jemma El Fna is a maze of shop-filled alleyways loaded with carpets and lamps and slippers and candy and scarves and hats and, and, and... Go ahead, plunge in and get lost, eventually you'll come upon the places where they actually make these things. Some have spoken of a place where the air smells horribly and large vats of urine dot the landscape, but we didn't quite make it to the tanneries.
You might think you'll get lost forever but, since you are in a walled old-city, just don't go outside the walls dummy (we did that, oops).
What to buy: Live chickens
Coconut candy that gives you a stomache ache
Strange little mysterious vials of ???
What to pay: Less than they ask for but more than it's worth.
What to buy:
Before I went to Marrakesh I had never ever even heard of Argan oil, but I came back with 4 bottles of it in my suitcase.
The Argan tree grows only in Morocco and only near Marrakesh and Essaouira. It cannot be cultivated! So it is a very unique and rare tree which does not have fruits regularly. But if it does, they make the most wonderful oil out of it. This oil has a nutty taste to it and has more vitamins and healthy oleins in it than any other oil!
People use it as well for cooking purposes (salads for instance, I believe heating it up is not advisable), as well as for medical treatments and cosmetic purposes.
What to pay: Argan oil is VERY expensive (for the above reasons). In the suqs they will sell it for about 120 DH (= 12 Euro) for a 250 ml bottle, but thanks to VT friend Jean Louis (JLBG) I found Argan oil for 45 DH/250 ml (= 4,50 ?) in the supermarket Marjane in the outskirts of Marrakesh.
What to buy:
Both Henna and Argan oil products are a nice souvenir from Morocco!
We bought some Henna and a moisturizing creme with Argan oil in this lovely small cosmetics place in the suqs of Marrakesh. He also had other things like perfumes, soaps, Argan oil (filled in old plastic bottles) - it was such a joy to have a look around!
What to pay: We paid 5 DH for the Henna and 20 DH for the creme. The price seemed so reasonable that we did not even bargain!
What to buy:
Actually there is not so much specific information that I can give you here. We did see lots of carpets in the suqs and we were taken to a carpet cooperative to have a little information and shopping opportunity. It was quite interesting to see the different types of materials (wool, silk, camel wool etc), patterns and colors, but non of us bought anything.
If you are interested in buying a carpet, you might want to make sure you get a proper receipt and maybe also a tax refund!
What to buy:
This was my absolute favourite shopping item! I love the smells and taste of those oriental spices, so we bought quite a few of them (which made my back smell beautifully!!)
What I particularly like is the mixtures - and in Morocco they have a 35 spices mix (at one place we even got a 45 spices mix!!!) for just about everything you cook and a 4 spices mix which is usually used when cooking fish.
Since each "melange" (= mix) is slightly different, it might be a good idea to buy those mixtures at different places.
For a warning, please have a look at my tourist trap tips!
What to pay: The mixes are much more expensive than the pure spices.
At a supermarket we paid between 13 and 15 DH for 100 grams, at the souk they initially wanted 40 and 60 DH for about the same spices, but we bargained and got the spices for 15 and 25 DH (and a grouchy face....)
What to buy:
I'm not normally a big shopper. While on vacation the usual extent of my shopping is window browsing. I don't go into many shops since I don't like to get loaded down with knick-nacks and usually I'd much rather sit at a cafe with a beer and watch the people go by.
However, Marrakesh is a distinct exception to rule in this regard. First of all, alcohol is not readily available in Morocco. You can get your cocktails in the nicer hotels, but not at the streetside cafes. Second, shopping is really more of a sport in Morocco. Even if you do not wish to engage in bartering on your own, it is fun to watch a travel companion try their hand at the game.
In Marrakesh Becky and I only bought a brightly colored bowl, probably on eof the ones pictured here. We had blown our shopping money up in Fes at the rug markets. But we did spend a few happy hours watching the crafty shopkeepers lighten the wallets of others in our group.
For other photos of the fabulous souqs, please look at my travelogue.
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