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Marrakech began as a desert trading post and market place; a role that has taken on international dimensions in recent years. Shopping here is 'major' and personal shoppers can be hired at non-celebrity prices. Gone are the days though that a guide was advisable to take you through the maze of Souks. Thanks to a government crackdown and ever present plain-clothed tourist police, stallholders give visitors a relatively easy time. And besides, with any guide you will pay 30 per cent over the odds for any purchase. The souks in Marrakech sell all kinds of goods and are an enormous, exotic shoppers' playground. Gueliz in the New City couldn't be more different, with bright little boutiques selling contemporary designer takes on traditional goods. Modern billion-dollar shopping malls and international chain stores are sprouting up in the New City. Their fixed prices can be a real relief after hard bargaining at the souks. Marrakech is awash with crafts for sale. Artisan jewellery could be anything from tribal Berber pieces made from antique silver to colourful ethnic beads. Marrakech is also a mecca for leather goods and you will find tagines everywhere; for an ovenproof tagine get the terracotta version as the decorative pots are just for serving. Shopping hours are a moveable feast in Marrakech and differ greatly depending on whether you are in the New City or in the Medina. The Souks and market stalls are generally open Saturday to Thursday 8/9am until 8/9pm, Fri 12 until 8, with stalls close to Jemaa El Fna open until midnight. Most of the shops in the New City are closed Sundays and from 1pm until 3.30pm, staying open until around 7.30pm.
Read more on this destination in The AA Citypack Guide to Marrakech.
Top shops in Marrakech
Souks (market), Stretching from the north of Jemaa El Fna all the way to Medersa Ben Youssef, Central Medina - Wander down these densely packed alleyways bustling with donkey carts and mopeds and experience these crowded, chaotic market stalls. Be prepared to get lost, but an absolute highlight whether you want to shop or not.
Chez Les Nomades (Rug shop), 32-34 Bradia El Kedima, Mouassine - Colourful rugs from the Atlas Mountains and around are on sale here where the 'language' of Moroccan rugs and the motifs used can be explained in English. The website details some of the varied pieces, where orders can be made online. These rugs make great presents.
Music shop , 84 Rue Riad Zitoun El Jedid - This little place is filled with traditional instruments from hand-held drums to tambourines. They make unusual souvenirs for budding musicians or even just to decorate your home.
Centre Artisanal (Department store) - Bouchaib (oil section), 7 Derb Baissi Kasbah, Boutouil - Hidden away in a corner of the artisan centre. Pretty bottles of soothing, sweet smelling orange and rose extract are on sale that can be used to perfume traditional argan oil that is also sold here. Made from the nuts of the rare argan tree (protected by UNESCO), this oil has been credited with dramatic moisturising properties.
Original Design (ceramics and more) , 47 Place des Ferblantiers, Rue Bab El Mellah - Ceramic tableware, as well as vases and ash-trays in an array of bright colours, are on sale here. An assistant can post items all around the world if you can't manage purchases in your hand luggage. All the pieces are made by hand - so don't try to bargain as the fixed prices are already very reasonable for such work.
Bab Doukkala (food market) , Rue Bab Doukkala - This daily food market is a wonderful, colourful place to wander whether you want to buy or not. Among wheelbarrows full of fresh mint, bloody sheep heads, piles of glossy purple aubergines, locals carefully scrutinize the offerings and share a joke as they bargain with the sellers. The market is open daily from 8am until 7pm, except on Fridays when it is open 9am until noon.
Kulchi (boutique - fashion and textiles) , 1 Rue El Ksour, Bab El Ksour - Whether you are after a pop art T-shirt from a Moroccan designer, some exotic East African textiles, or something colourful from owner Florence Taranne's own label, you should find it here.
Intensite Nomade (Kaftans) , 70 Rue de la Liberte, Gueliz - If you are after couture kaftans with upbeat designs, or even one in camouflage print, this is the place to come. Designer Frederique Birkemeyer is something of a legend in the city and this is a fun spot to stop purely to window shop.
Cote Sud (Homeware) , 4 Rue de la Liberte, Gueliz - The three levels of this small shop are full of contemporary Moroccan delights for the home, such as orange sorbet candles, pretty silk cushion covers and funky tin chandeliers. This tiny emporium is a real gem: If you only make it to one shop in Gueliz, make it this one.