Marrakech: Jamaa el Fna, the souk and haggling

Jamaa el Fna is the big square in Marrakech, and it's where you'll find the entrance to the souk - the famous market of Marrakech. Here you can buy anything from figs to fake goods; spices to snails; tagines to, quite frankly, tat. It's a mixed affair, but there's nothing quite like it.

You will get lost the first time you enter the souk, but you'll slowly get your bearings and start to figure it out... maybe. Stop at a shop though or catch the eye of a stall owner and you'll be hounded to buy something, and if you try and take a photo of the enchanting shops, you'll probably also have money demanded from you. (It's why I only have a few photos from this area - it just wasn't worth the hassle.)

If you do see something that catches your eye though, aim to get your treasure for a third of the asking price. Love it or loathe it, haggling is how shopping is done in Marrakech. We haggled a leather pouffe down from 870 dirhams to 300 dirhams, a thimble down from 100 dirhams to 20 dirhams, and bought a silver teapot for 100 dirhams, down from 300 dirhams. We also bought two tagines which had an asking price of 20 dirhams each (£1.30 - bargain!). We did pay the asking price, but we negotiated to get a mini tagine (for salt and spices) thrown in for free.

As for the square, Jamaa el Fna is a sleepy affair during the day, though you'll still find the snake-charmers, men with monkeys and henna women calling for your cash. As the evening draws in, the food stalls are set up and the crowds begin to gather. There's a carnival-like atmosphere in the air, with delicious smells wafting from the stalls.

Locals and tourists gather around for their evening meal, storytelling and music, though pickpockets also roam the square, and you'll probably get groped on more than one occasion. If it all seems a little daunting, there are plenty of restaurants around the square from which you can observe the festivities. The food won't be as good, and it certainly won't be as cheap as the stalls in the square, but you'll able to experience Jamaa el Fna without all of the hustle and bustle. And the groping.

1 comment

  1. Just got back from Marrakech and blogged about it here Hope you enjoyed it.