When you come from Rabat, drive across the Bou Regreg oued and take the road to Meknès, you will first pass the Dawliz complex (hotel, cinema), a children attraction park and a big one level building. It is the articraft center El-Oulja. On the building, you will read ''Vilarmar'' for ''village des arts marocains'' (village of moroccan arts). You should come to Vilarmar. It is worth the visit even if you are not going to buy anything. We are still in Salé, but very different from the medina.
What to buy: All handicrafts but mainly potteries.
In Vilarmar, there is only craftsman that makes with rattan and makes all sorts of rattan articraft : lamps, chairs, baskets, dogs (or cats) house, etc... I do not remember he was there last time I came, last year.
What to buy: Rattan articraft
Vilarmar: Brass tray
The brass trays are especially wonderful. We brought this one home.
What I wrote about the thickness of the metal is especially important for the trays. Most of what you find in the souk for tourists is very thin and will twist easily. If you want to hang it on your wall, this is OK. If you want to use it, for example to bring drinks, you must choose one that is strong and will not bend when it holds a few glasses of drink.
What to buy: Brass trays
Vilarmar: Brass articraft
You will find every possible brass articraft : candle sticks, flowerpots, ashtrays, etc… They are of various quality and accordingly of various prices. When brass is thin, the object is only for the show. If you plan to use it really, you should choose a thicker and stronger metal.
What to buy: Brass articrafts
Vilarmar: Carpet shop
Unlike in the souk of Fès or Marrakech, nobody will bother you and try to convince you to buy. You will buy if you want, when you want ! This is why it is a real pleasure to come here and I hope that more visitors to Rabat will now come here.
What to buy: Carpet
Vilarmar: Pottery on display
Still in the patio, pottery again is shown. This large pottery is not for sale, just for the pleasure of the eyes ! Anyway, even if that was a gift, you would have trouble bringing back home with you, unless you are a truck driver !
What to buy: Potteries
Vilarmar: The patio
If you are tired of visits and of walking, you can have a nice rest in the patio. It is refreshing and peaceful ! A table and seats are waiting for you in the shade while a small stream of water is flowing gently !
Vilarmar: Traditional fountain
In front of the entrance is a traditional fountain. This is a fine example of Moroccan craftwork. You will often find this type of fountain in every medina : Rabat, Fès, Marrakech, etc… Some of these fountains have been built recently, others can be very ancient. There are several of them around Mosque Hassan II in Casablanca.
Vilarmar: Inside the main buiding of the complex
The main building is built around a pleasant patio, which brings a cool environment in Summer. Even if you do not want to buy anything, the visit of the complex is very pleasant and informative about what articraft can be found in Morocco.
Vilarmar: Towards the main buiding of the complex
At one of the two entrances in the building, we are welcomed by the statue of an African servant holding a candle (actually, an electric bulb !). Rich Moroccan used to have African servants. Having African servants was a mark of wealth.
What to buy: Any articraft
Vilarmar: Pots and plates
In this shop, we find more traditional Moroccan pottery articraft. Dishes show colors ranging from blue to brown. Pots with either traditional design or modern one : on the right of the picture, the pots shown are of modern design while in the background, they are closer to traditional designs.
What to buy: Pottery
Donkey and ox around the crib !
Here are all the main figures of the santons, Mary and Joseph, the three wise men, the donkey and the ox around the crib ! There are also side figures, the flute blower, the tambourine (darbuka) player, the shepherd, a guy bringing wine, etc…. Why would you not buy some of these figures for next Christmas ? That would be a special gift from Morocco, "out of the beaten path" !
What to buy: Everything !
- Road Trip
Vilarmar: Santons made in Morocco
Let's have a closer look. They definitely are "santons". They do not have the quality of the best "santons" made in Provence but they can compare with a lot of those sold in Provence. By the way, are those sold in Provence all made in Provence, I am not completely sure !
What to buy: Any Moroccan craft (and some others !)
- Road Trip
Vilarmar: Are we in Provence ?
Amazingly, one of the craftmen has been inspired by the ''santons'' of Provence. For those who don't know, "santons" are small little figures made in clay and colored that are displayed at Christmas around the holly crib. This is an old tradition in all of Provence and some of these "santons" are real pieces of art.
What to buy: Any Moroccan craft
- Road Trip
Vilarmar: Other tajines, cups, bowls, etc...
On reason for which there are not so many tourists is that it is a few kilometers out of town. As you have to drive to come there, foreigners who come here are mostly temporary residents working for some time in Morocco. But you can take a taxi in Rabat, which will not be very expensive.