Ok, so I returned a few days ago to Marrakech, but I needed to adjust from a fabulous weekend.
The laid-back medina for wandering, hassle-free shopping with prices significantly lower than Marrakech, a restaurant scene that is among the best in Morocco in my opinion, cafes for whiling away the hours, and a beach perfect for morning walks make Essaouira one of my favourite places on Earth.
Then add to that blend a couple of girlfriends, some local wines and Taros (where else) where we kicked off the weekend, and “provided the ambiance” with our epic private dance floor on a Friday night, and you have a few happy ladies (who woke up with sore heads the next day).
Saturday, recovery day
All big nights out at Taros end with a day of recovery. And pamper ourselves was just what we needed! A bit of shopping (did I mention that prices here are significantly lower than in Marrakech). I popped in to Basma and walked out with a new leather handbag. Practical Mandy said buy a brown or black leather bag. The real Mandy opted for a lime green leather satchel. After all, Marrakech is all about living a colourful life.
Then along came lunch at UMIA, hands down one of the best restaurants in Essaouira and deserving of a Michelin star according to some of my friends. Duck pastilla, calamari, carpaccio and fresh salads were just what we needed as we recalled the previous nights’ events before digging in to a mouth-water desert.
Then, to truly kick the hangover we headed off for a hammam treatment at Azar Spa. Perhaps the nicest spa in Essaouira, the treatments here are great and the relaxation space provided just what we needed before we hit the town for round two.
Round two was less boozy. Significantly calmer. And basically provided the opportunity for those who enjoyed our dancing and antics on Friday night to thank us for the entertainment.
You’re welcome. Now it’s time to jet. Even if we didn’t finish our ONE drink.
Because Sunday was a day in the countryside.
You see, there is more to explore than just the Essaouira medina. The weekly Had Dra souk about 20 minutes from central Essaouira makes for a fabulous excursion. Locals flock for the livestock sales, barber shops, fruits and vegetable markets and anything else you can think of. We happily scored wooden serving boards for mere dirhams, carpets and more, returning to Marrakech happy with our cool finds.
En route, a stop at Val d’Argan winery is ideal. Opting for various bottles, we grabbed a bottle of La Gazelle red which paired perfectly with our lunch at nearby La Fromagerie (another top dining spot in the Essaouira region). Non-stop salads featuring cheeses prepared on site before a main dish of mechaoui enjoyed under a shady tree in the garden made for a perfect Sunday afternoon.
When it’s time to go, try not to cry. Essaouira is just a short bus ride from Marrakech with regular departures on Supratours and CTM. EasyJet now flies direct from London Stansted twice a week.
If you go:
Located just off the main square leading towards the Scala, this is my favourite spot for meeting a girlfriend for lunch. The Mediterranean meets Moroccan menu is simple, but delicious and varied. Be sure to save room for desesrt.
It’s worth the trip out to La Fromagerie not only for the scenery, but for the amazing seven-course menu served in the garden. Each course is delicious, fresh and mouth-watering. Be sure to grab a bottle of Val d’Argan wine to complete the local dining experience.
No explanation needed. Just a fun night out!
Perfect for when you’ve had enough tajines and couscous, the Thai food is simply delicious. And cheap!
Another popular choice when you’ve had enough Moroccan cuisine. The pizzas, pastas and eggplant parmigiana are delicious. Service is slow, but it’s worth the wait.
Modern Moroccan arts, this little shop sells a great selection of leather bags and shoes at very reasonable prices.
Histoire des Fille
Like a department store, but filled with trendy Moroccan designers. Fashion, handbags, interior design and children’s sections round out the collections.
Reasonably priced, relaxing and perfect after a night on the town, this spa is an ideal destination for recharging after a stressful week.