19 Mar These experiences are worth rolling up your sleeves for in the Marrakech medina
By Mandy Sinclair
There’s more to the Marrakech medina than just wandering in the souks. As a hub of artistic creativity and new ideas, now more than ever it is possible for travellers to roll up their sleeves and get involved in the creative activity that exists throughout the medina. Pick up a calligraphy pen and learn traditional brushstrokes, shape and hammer a brass bowl alongside a local metal smith, hone your photography skills during a half-day photography workshop, or opt to make your own babouche rather than haggling in the souks. Whatever your fancy, we have a list of creative workshops that will ensure you leave town with a souvenir handmade by you!
Blend a unique perfume at Musée de Parfum, owned by perfumer, gardener and botanist Abderrazzak Benchaâbane in the heart of the medina. The activity lasts about one hour and participants leave with a 30 ml bottle of perfume or massage oil blended to their liking. Benchaâbane is the man behind the restoration of the Majorelle Gardens and, at the request of Yves Saint Laurent, created a perfume that embodies the famous gardens.
Prices from 500.00 Dirhams per person. Reservations recommended.
Forget negotiating for a pair of babouche in the medina. Pull up a stool and get to work creating your own pair of Moroccan slippers during a three-hour organized by Ateliers D’Ailleurs. Working alongside a craftsman who has been in the trade for 20 years, participants start by selecting the colour of the leather they prefer (while sipping a mint tea of course) and then measuring for size and getting to work. You’ll leave with a whole new appreciation for the art of shoemaking.
Prices from 760.00 Dirhams per person. Single supplement available. Reservations required.
Satisfy a sweet tooth during a baking class at the Amal Centre in Targa where you’ll learn to prepare favourites such as gazelle horns, ghriba, beghrir and msemmen. Using local ingredients including rose water and orange blossom water to create the perfect pastry, guests leave with a 250-gram box of biscuits upon completion. No calorie counting here, just an afternoon (classes run from 2 to 4 p.m.) of fun in the kitchen.
Prices from 350.00 Dirhams per person and 200 Dirhams for child under 10. Reservations required and recommended more than 24 hours in advance.
Photograph the alluring streetscapes and mystical hidden alleyways during a private three-hour photo tour through the old city with professional Omar Chennafi. Originally from Fez, Morocco, Omar invites guests to explore the art of photography within a Muslim culture and leave with a better understanding of the role the art plays in society. Focus on certain geographical areas within the medina or subjects such as architecture or portraiture. It’s up to you. But all tours include technical advice blended with artistic insight, while leaving guests with an understanding of Marrakchi life.
Prices from 1300.00 Dirhams per person. Single supplement available. Advanced reservations required.
While the bubble-gum pink and chocolate brown tadelakt walls of riads may be hard to transport back to one’s home country, those who love the soft finishing can join a workshop to learn the technique and leave with a pottered piece in a colour of one’s choice that will fit in hand luggage. Ateliers D’Ailleurs is the place to go for hands-on workshops in Marrakech that also include traditional woodcarving, zellig tile work and more!
Prices from 760.00 Dirhams. Single supplement available. Reservations required.
Hop on the brassware trend, but not in the sense of shopping for unique pieces in the souks. Instead create your own unique piece during a hands-on workshop with a master tradesman. During either a three- or five-hour workshop organized by Ateliers D’Ailleurs, participants learn to shape and hammer a brass bowl that’s both easy to pack and, unlike some other souks finds, fits in with most interior once back home.
Prices from 540.00 Dirhams. Single supplement available. Reservations required.
Sort through an assortment of beads at Boutique Bel Haj, a tiny shop tucked away on the second floor in a centuries-old fondouk in Bab Fteuh just off Jemaa el Fna. With an Aladdin’s cave feel, owner Mohammed Bari has stacks and stacks of beads and jewels to sift through. Pick your favourites and then discuss your ideas with Mohammed who will then bring the jewelry designs to life in mere hours.
Prices based on selected beads and materials. Drop in. Hours vary.
Learn Arabic calligraphy and brush strokes during a private class alongside a maalem (master tradesman) Abdeljalil and a friendly English translator at Café Clock in the Kasbah. Not as easy as it may seem, Abdeljalil introduces students to the various brushes and brushstrokes before picking up the brush to start writing classical Arabic letters.
Prices from 350.00 Dirhams. Reservations required.
To book your experience in advance of your arrival at 72 Riad Living, contact Stefania at firstname.lastname@example.org.