5 moments from a trip to Morocco

5 moments from a trip to Morocco

5 moments from a trip to Morocco

5 moments from a trip to Morocco: “In Morocco, there are so many things to discover, and each one is different…” Valérie, publishing manager for Sahara Morocco Tours, shows you the way, in the sands of the Sahara, the Atlas mountains or the medina of Fes… Privileged experiences that are so many invitations to travel.


Desert… a mixture of apprehension about this “empty” land, and questions: how does it feel to be in the middle of “nowhere”, in an environment that can seem hostile? Well, I liked it. I loved these dunes as far as the eye could see, like perfect waves, this sky you can almost touch, this enveloping silence, the harmony of colors.
After a few adventures – the old 4X4 struggles to move forward, the driver looks at the engine every five minutes, and when it starts up again, the music is turned up loud… – the first dunes and the first steps in the sand. We’re on another planet. We appreciate this walk in the pure tranquility of the desert.
In the evening, at camp, we’ll prepare the fire with our guides and the meal with the cooks. And we’ll be making “pain des sables”, a bread that we bake over the embers of the fire by covering it with sand, then tapping off the grains so that we can eat it… The desert sand is damp, so it doesn’t stick. The sunset over the dunes is the climax of an experience like no other.


5 moments from a trip to Morocco: From Marrakech, the bus takes us to the village of Imlil, at the foot of Toubkal, 1,700 meters above sea level. In February, it’s cold, and we’re equipped accordingly. We pass the children on their way home from school: more used to these temperatures than we are, they are much more lightly dressed.
Over the last few days, it has been snowing in the High Atlas mountains. The refuge is unheated, and Ali, our host, struggles to find blankets to comfort us… When we wake up on the terrace facing Toubkal, stalactites adorn the washbasin taps, spitting out water that’s too icy to wash. But what a sight to behold! We could spend hours gazing at this snow-covered “mountain of mountains” (as the Berbers call it). A delicious breakfast and a roaring fire will warm us up, but we opt for cool mode with a stroll through the surrounding villages. Toubkal awaits!


We arrive in Essaouira quite early in the morning. We get off the bus at the port, and already the smell is overwhelming. It’s auction time, and swarms of seagulls fly over the blue boats – that characteristic blue that’s found everywhere – as Moroccans sample the fresh fish grilled by the fishermen… Essaouira comes alive.
For me, it’s the city of painters, the painters of color, that I want to see. So we let ourselves be carried away. In the narrow streets of the medina, the number of art galleries and studios is impressive! Naïve art, art brut, folk art… all drawing on the same sources. And always color in profusion. This “Essaouira school”, nurtured by self-taught Souiri artists, was introduced and disseminated by Danish art critic Frédéric Damgaard in the 1980s: a visit to the gallery bearing his name is a must!
Today, two naive paintings in my kitchen depicting scenes of daily life remind me of beautiful Essaouira. I would learn later, but I didn’t know it that day, that in Arabic, the former Mogador of the Portuguese is “the well-drawn one”.


In Morocco, goats climb trees! An astonishing sight for those of us not accustomed to such gymnastics. Their agility is impressive, and they’re capable of incredible feats of balance, leaping from branch to branch. It’s also great fun to watch them do it. We call it “aerial grazing”… And these “goat trees” are argan trees. An endemic species, the tree plays an important role in the economy of the Souss region, producing argan oil.
Later, we’ll have the opportunity to see how the kernels rejected by the goats are transformed into argan oil by the villagers, seated in the shade of an awning. Using a traditional method, the extracted kernels are roasted then crushed using a stone mill to create a paste, then warm water is added until the famous nutty-smelling oil is produced.
Argan oil is used extensively in Moroccan cuisine, spreading it on breakfast bread and drizzling it over couscous. I’ve tried it and I recommend it!


5 moments from a trip to Morocco: Finding your way around the labyrinthine medina of Fez is a challenge for us neophytes. We go there with a friend who lives here part of the year, early in the morning: at this time of day, the place is still a little quiet. The medina of this imperial city is the largest in the Arab world, founded in the 8th century and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
You enter through the “blue gate”, Bab Boujloud, before plunging into the 9,000-odd alleyways. Here, a stall where a wall some four meters high is filled with boxes of various spices and medicinal plants of all kinds. There’s a tiny bistro covered from floor to ceiling in colorful zelliges, where an old man sips his mint tea. Further on, a donkey loaded with merchandise tries to make headway down an incredibly narrow street, a coppersmith conscientiously hammers away at a silver platter, children play ball in a cramped courtyard… And at the bend of an alleyway, in a cul-de-sac, a few jewels of Hispano-Moorish architecture in this medieval medina: a medersa, a mosque, a palace, details on a wall, a door, a balcony… An unusual and heterogeneous place, cradle of the oldest university in the Muslim world, Al Quaraouiyine.

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