green countryside

5 Surprising Things About Marrakech

Every country I go to surprises me in some way.  Although I have been to Marrakech before, our recent trip was a family holiday.  The children always notice things that I don’t (for example the cats below) which I find interesting.  Here are 5 things that I found surprising from my recent trip:

Landscape

The countryside can be lush and verdant.  I loved the way the colour of the greenery contrasted with the pinky red of the sand.

green countryside

French Influence

Although Morocco was a French protectorate only from 1912-1956, the French influence really is prevalent.  For example, many locals speak French and French tourists abound.  Our visit to the Jardin Majorelle in Marrakech built by a French painter and then taken over by iconic designer Yves Saint Laurent was one of the highlights of our trip.

jardin Majorelle

Cultural differences

What exactly does this sign mean??  We were trying to decipher it and decided it probably meant no topless bathing (aimed at the French) and no burkinis (aimed at the strict Muslim crowd).

swimsuit sign

There are cats everywhere.  We were told that cats bring good luck.  We did not see one dog during our time.

moroccan cat

Stark differences in weather

The weather was great.  Dry heat during the day in the city and then cool evenings.  We were surprised, though, at how much cooler the Atlas mountains were.  We needed jumpers on our visit to a Berber village in the mountains but on our return to Marrakech, it was still a baking hot pool day.

atlas mountains

Traffic

If I did not have the Moroccan guide with us, my family and I would still be standing on a street corner in Marrakech too afraid to cross the road.  It was absolutely terrifying because people just dart through moving traffic in front of buses, cars, horse and carriages, motorcycles etc. The guide, however, knew exactly when to cross and which car would slow down.  It felt like a dangerous game of chicken.

http://www.qwiki.com/v/jTmJbP39

The WiFi being patchy turned out to be a blessing.  Usually when I get out of an airport, my carrier (Vodafone) switches over to the local carrier pretty immediately.  In Marrakech, it took an entire day for Meditel to find my telephone.  On the plus side, it was really pleasant to relax off-grid for a while!

Have you been to Marrakech?  What do you think?

Published by

Shobha

I am an American expat based in London with my travel-loving family. I write at Just Go Places Blog about luxury, cultural and family travel.

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