Susan Simon’s Shopping in Marrakech is as colorful and dizzying as the streets of Marrakech. With dazzling photographs on nearly every page and plenty of insight on how to navigate Marrakech’s disorienting labyrinth of shops, Shopping in Marrakech will persuade even the non-shopper to head out for a day in the souks.
With the Atlantic Ocean to the west, the Atlas Mountains to the east and the Sahara Desert sprinkled across the south, Marrakech has been a significant trading post since the Almoravid conquered Spain in the 11th century. Home to one of the largest traditional markets in Morocco, Marrakech’s medina is a bustling maze of covered markets, food stalls, storytellers and snake charmers.
At first glance of the map, navigating Marrakech looks positively overwhelming. Thankfully this guide is organized into seven separate walks to help you systematically navigate the bewildering array of shops. The book reads more like a treasure map than a traditional guidebook, leading the reader on a journey through winding alleyways and hidden streets to find the best of Morocco’s handmade treasures.
Each walk notes a variety of shops from chic clothing boutiques and fabric shops to spice cellars and apothecaries with detailed directions for finding your way. Each shop entry is complete with basic information like address, phone number, hours of operation and types of credit cards accepted as well as insights into the shop’s history, character and selection of merchandise. The author also offers many tips on how you can incorporate your finds into your household or wardrobe.
Useful not just for shopping, the book notes that stopping for tea and cookies is an integral part of the shopping process. Several entries mention cafes to check out along the way. The book is pocket-sized and can be stashed in your tote so you can take it with you for easy reference.
The only things missing from Shopping in Marrakech are a list of must-see shops and a tad bit more information on bargaining and prices. Since the book reads like a walking tour, you need to page through the entire book to find the most highly recommended shops. It is great for travelers interested in leisurely walking tours, but may be less helpful for those with limited time.
The author does give some information in the introduction of the book about bargaining and includes some tips for haggling at a few of the shops. I would have appreciated more information about what the average prices are in the shops and what I should expect to pay for some of the most common Moroccan handicraft items.
Written by Amiee Maxwell.