29 Apr A Marrakech-Essaouira getaway
By Mandy Sinclair
Completely opposite to Marrakech yet just two hours away, Essaouira has a laid-back medina, colourful arts scene and a vibrant cafe and food culture. With the launch of a flight from London Luton to Essaouira on 1 May, the upcoming Essaouira Gnaoua and World Music Festival kicking off on 14 May 2015 and comfortable summertime temperatures, Essaouira is sure to be a hotspot this summer.
A Marrakech-Essaouira break
Start in Marrakech and enjoy the hustle and bustle of the medina for four nights before heading off to Essaouira for three nights. Essaouira has direct flights to/from London Luton on Mondays and Fridays and Paris Orly on Wednesdays and Sundays. To entice you, we’ve put together a list of our favourite stops in coastal Essaouira that appeal to all five senses.
Dinner at Elizir is a must. The selection of Moroccan tapas that arrive prior to the main meal combined with the trendy retro decor make this one of our favourite stops.
Perfect for a day trip out of the city or en route from/to Marrakech, La Fromagerie is one of the best lunch options in the Essaouira countryside. As the name suggests, local owner Abderrazak produces all goat, cow and sheep’s cheeses in the on-site cheese factory while the chef prepares fresh salads and desserts made using the wide variety produced.
While it may not seem like a wine-growing region, Val d’Argan produces some of the best wines (red, white, rose and gris) in Morocco with three varieties of each available. Whether for wine-tasting or lunch this is a great getaway for an afternoon.
Other great restaurants include OneUp for its inventive menu and interesting decor. Lunch at Ferdouass provides a great Moroccan fixed menu in a simple setting.
With few sites to see, Essaouira is best for wandering, stumbling upon architectural gems, little workshops and artist studios. A visit to the bustling port mid-morning provides a glimpse in to the life of local fisherman whose fresh catch of the days are quickly sold at reasonable rates.
As the sunsets over the Atlantic, be sure to grab a seat on a rooftop terrace to watch as magical hues colour the sky.
Come to Essaouira for a slower pace, an escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life, and unwind. Sit a little longer in the cafe, enjoy the art galleries throughout town and perhaps watch a craftsman at work. Or just watch the waves crash in from one of the nearby cafes.
Shop for thuya wood boxes, bowls and more while meeting the local artisans at the woodworker’s cooperative hidden just off the Place Moulay Hassan on 6 Rue Khalid Ibn el Walid. Explore the local food scene and sample seafood at Chez Sam by the port. Wander through the art galleries and admire the art naif style popular with local artists. Or spend an afternoon surfing with Explora.
The fresh ocean air, the wind through your hair and a laid-back ambiance throughout, makes Essaouira a place to explore at a slower pace. Feel the sand between your toes with a lovely wander along the beach, stopping to admire the view of the old city in the distance.
Experience the hammam ritual at Relais et Chateaux’s Palais Heure Bleue or at Azur Art and Spa, both located within the medina walls. This beauty ritual will leave you feeling like new as you shed a layer of skin in preparation for sun-bathing.