with Patricia Ravenscroft
Morocco is a land of endless surprises. Stunningly beautiful blue skies, lush gardens, and intricately carved buildings sit amidst rustic dwellings and the bustling, simple daily life and rituals of the Moroccan people who are amazingly warm, intelligent, and a true pleasure to get to know.
We will begin our Moroccan adventure in Fes, an imperial city founded in the year 808, rich in history, culture, art, and architecture with an amazing continuing tradition of local craftsmanship. To fully appreciate the exotic and often breathtaking beauty of Morocco, we will stay at the Ryad Alkantara, which has recently been restored to its former glory. All rooms encircle the central terrace with a pool and a large garden which is filled with fragrant orange trees whose branches dance over the many lovely marble fountains. After exploring the city’s winding streets, we will savor mint tea in the balmy evening air, pungent with a host of magical scents. We will continue on to Marrakech, where we will stay in the palmerie at the luxurious Jnane Tamsna guesthouse with owners, Meryanne Loum Martin, a talented designer, and her husband, Gary Martin, a passionate ethnobotanist. Several days will also be spent in the old Portuguese port of Essaouira on the Atlantic coast.
Through a series of cooking classes we will be taught the authentic way to prepare the most delicious tagines, keftas, pastillas, and couscous. We will be introduced to the very best Islamic art and architecture by expert local guides, who will take us to palaces and gardens of striking beauty. And, of course, shoppers will delight in the open-air markets (souks) in the medina full of countless treasures at bargain prices!
Arrival at the Fes airport in the afternoon. Our chauffeur and guide Mohammed will drive us to our hotel in the medina, with a tour of the city, en route to the exquisite Ryad Alkantara. After settling into our rooms, we will be served tea in the beautiful courtyard garden. After tea our guide, Mohammed Bouftila will take us on an introductory walking tour of the medina, listed as a world heritage site by UNESCO. We will enjoy an aperitif in the garden with owner M. Saffar, who is from Fes and is a master plasterwork artisan as well as an Oxford educated intellectual. An early dinner on our candlelit terrace will follow.
After breakfast, our guide Mohammed will take us to all of the best addresses in the souk for carpets, leather goods, ceramics, embroidered linens, jewelry, copper and countless other treasures. Lunch will on the rooftop restaurant, La Medina. The afternoon is free to enjoy the pool, the hammam, or to treat yourself to a massage. For dinner we will enjoy musicians and delicious tagines at the Ryad La Maison Bleue.
In the morning, Mohammed will continue showing us the treasures of this multifaceted imperial city. We will have lunch in the medina and return to our Ryad mid-afternoon. M. Saffir will show us all of his extensive property in the medina and he will personally demonstrate the art of intricate plaster carving. Our first cooking class will begin in the late afternoon with Fatima, who will teach us how to prepare her favorite local specialties. We will dine in the garden, feasting on our carefully prepared delicacies.
We will journey by train from Fes to Marrakech, arriving at the Jnane Tamsna in time for aperitifs and dinner in the garden. We will tour Gary Martin’s organic vegetable garden before dinner.
After breakfast, we will visit the exquisite Majorelle gardens, restored by Yves St. Laurent, as well as other important monuments in Marrakech. We will lunch in the medina and after lunch will explore the food and spice markets in the souk. In the late afternoon, we will have our first cooking class with chef Baija which we will enjoy by candlelight in the garden.
Today we will spend the day in the desert at La Pause, a magical oasis in the Marrakechi Desert. We will arrive in time for a delicious lunch on one of the many terraces. After lunch we will have a camel ride or a nap in a hammock by the pool before returning home to Jnane Tamsna where we will dine simply under the stars.
Our final day in Marrakech will begin with a second cooking class with chef Baija followed by lunch in the garden. The afternoon is free to enjoy the pool or visit the souk with our guide for additional shopping. We will say goodbye to Marrakech at a gala dinner with Andalous musicians at Jnane Tamsna.
After breakfast, we will depart for the seaside town of Essaouira, an old Portuguese port. After checking into our hotel, another lovely Ryad, we will enjoy lunch at a restaurant on the beach. The afternoon is free to explore the old town, the port, to visit the many charming shops, or to have a camel ride on the beach. In the evening, we will dine at a wonderful new restaurant in the medina.
In the early morning, we will visit the vegetable, fish, and spice markets followed by a cooking class and lunch. Our chef will show us all the secrets of turning the freshest fish into the most delicious seafood tagines. The afternoon is free for shopping or an exciting dune buggy ride over the amazing sand dunes. Our farewell dinner tonight will be at a small romantic candlelit restaurant overlooking the beach.
In the morning , we will visit the Argon oil cooperative just outside of town. This cooperative and a few others like it, all run by women, support many divorced and widowed women who previously had no possibility of earning a living in Morocco. The oil itself has both medicinal and culinary uses. It is great for the skin and makes a delicious vinaigrette – two different preparations of the oil! After lunch overlooking the port, we will drive back to Marrakech and will spend our last night in the medina at the Maison Arabe. Costumes are welcome at our Gala Dinner in the exquisite interior garden by the pool.
Transportation will be provided to the airport in Marrakech after breakfast.
Accommodations & Cost
Accommodations: All bedrooms include a private bathroom and direct dial phone service.
Included in the cost: Ten nights accommodations; all ground transportation; all meals including aperitifs and carefully selected wines; all cooking classes; and all sightseeing and private visits as described above. Limited to sixteen people.
Not Included in Cost: Airfare to and from Morocco; alcoholic beverages except as specified in the program.
Cost: $7,790.00 per person, double occupancy, with a single supplement of $1,200. Important note: substantial changes in the value of the dollar may require changes in the price of the tour.
Deposit: $1500.00 per person.
Register for this trip — check-out the general information section about Les Liaisons Délicieuses trips — see what other travelers have to say — check for when this trip is scheduled or discuss a custom trip based on this itinerary.