While Marrakech may have a reputation for being a bustling and busy Moroccan city with vast souks, narrow alleyways and inventive street performers around every turn, this applies more to the old district – or medina. Head to Marrakech’s more modern neighbourhood Gueliz and you’ll have a very different experience.
This part of the city was developed by the French when they colonised the country and you can definitely see the European influence in the long, wide tree-lined streets and pretty buildings that run along them.
But just where should you go and what should you do when you’re in Gueliz?
One of the main attractions in Gueliz is the shopping – there are numerous outlets here that offer beautiful Moroccan handicrafts in a distinctly western setting. Don’t expect to be able to haggle – everything has a fixed price.
There are global brands and well-known names mixed in among the boutique stores selling the locally-produced goods, so you can have a really varied day of retail therapy in Gueliz.
Get pampered at a spa
One of the wonderful things about Gueliz is that there are numerous hotels in this part of Marrakech with spas – as well as independent hammams – where you can have an incredibly indulgent day of pampering.
There are always plenty of treatments on offer, but I don’t think you can beat a traditional Moroccan hammam session. These will typically last around two hours and involve various stages, such as a black soap body scrub, a deep tissue massage and steam baths.
Another thing I love about the spas in Marrakech is that they use locally-made products where possible, such as argan oil, which is extracted from the plant by hand and is wonderful for rejuvenating skin.
Visit the Majorelle Gardens
The Majorelle Gardens are one of the premier attractions in Gueliz, so it’s an absolute must-visit if you’re staying in this part of the city. There are many reasons why this little oasis of calm amid the bustling streets is worth visiting, but one of the main draws is that it was designed and created by French painter Jacques Majorelle.
As well as the beautiful gardens that are planted with a variety of exotic flowers and shrubs, you can explore the house, which is painted a vibrant blue – something of a signature colour in the gardens.
In fact, you’ll see the same shade utilised in some of the sculptures, fountains and tiles that have been used to decorate the outdoor space. Inside the house is a Berber Museum, where you can learn more about the society that inhabits the Atlas Mountains.
The exhibits here comprise pieces of jewellery, tools, and other artefacts that are used traditionally, as well as weapons, costumes and various decorative items that can be found in Berber homes.
Eat in a stylish restaurant
Gueliz is home to some of Marrakech’s most upmarket restaurants, so it’s an excellent place for gastronomes and just those who want to indulge their taste buds. For a flavour of Morocco, head to Al Fassia, one of the city’s premier establishments.
This eatery serves up traditional Moroccan dishes – like tagine and mechoui (a roast leg of lamb) – all prepared by local women. One of the most appealing things about this place is that it offers an outstanding tasting menu, so you can get a real sense of what Moroccan cooking is all about in one sitting.