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Posts Tagged ‘Taroudant’

I’ve read a lot while planning our Morocco trip, and figured we should visit Taroudant known to be “little Marrakech” on our way to Imlil, before we actually visit Marrakech. The heart of Taroudant is a small market, and perhaps, if you want to get some shopping out of your system, after spending some time in Morocco, this place could be a bit cheaper and less intimidating.  So I bought some moroccan glass tea cups, and we enjoyed some m’semen and tea in the market. All in all- a cute little manageable market town.

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M’semen guy in the Medina’s square. Couldn’t have enough of those

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Ahhh.. Sabres in Hebrew, or prickly pear fruits that we miss so much. Juicy, sweet and cheap.

Where did we stay? Again- off the beaten track, a few km away from the medina, at Riad Anma, where Marc, the Belgian owner knows everything about meats. Its located on a quaint road. We had some lovely time just catching our breath chilling in the pool or on the rooftop, while enjoying a tasty breakfasts and a dinner.

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Superb views of the Atlas mountains from Riad Anma’s rooftop

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Riad Anma’s pool

But the big discovery was a true amazing gem located outside of the city, that I wholeheartedly recommend making an effort to visit. Since not too many people visit Taroudant to begin with, and because you need transportation to get there, we had an elevated dumbfounding experience visiting and strolling this unique palace, that was almost, entirely, just ours for the day. It really helps to have your own car and driver.

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On our way to the palace. Views of the Atlas Mountains

Claudio Bravo was a celebrated Chilean painter, noted for his hyper realist still lifes and figurative paintings. Bravo who was born in 1936, traveled and worked around the world, but fell in love with Morocco, and somewhere in the 70s he built a magnificent palace, gardens and all, about 10 km north of Taroudant. Everywhere you walk in the palace says art, every little corner was well thought of and designed. Numerous paths invite you to discover sculptures, an abundance of exotic plants and at least three pools. It’s an oasis amid the red and yellow hues of the desert. Today, the palace is both a museum to Bravo’s life, art and collections, as well as a fancy hotel. I encourage you to take the tour lead by the knowledgeable Bashir Tabchich who was Bravo’s assistant, and to our understanding, inherited Bravo’s palace. After we got a closer look around the art and the beauty of the different rooms and halls, and got to ask many questions – we ended our tour at a patio, located near a lake, and were offered some Moroccan tea, pastries and fruit. The views were marvelous. From here on- I’m letting the photos of Palais Claudio Bravo do the talking.

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*A word of advice: besides the market and Bravo’s palace, we booked a tour to see the palm oasis and kasbah outside the city, an hour drive away. I DID NOT like it one bit. They offer a donkey ride around and some explanations. I felt sorry for the poor looking donkeys, and declined the ride. The scenery is nice, but I wouldn’t go out of my way for this. It definitely felt like a tourist trap. Statistically, it has to happen at one point or another when you travel a lot…

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The Kasbah

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We left Essaouira and headed to Taroudant, traveling through Berber country. It felt almost as if we were in the midst of a biblical landscape.

Goats

On our way we stopped to stretch our limbs, and watched cute goats go wild after Argan trees.  A word of advice, though: some greedy locals have begun to exploit the poor goats to make money by tying the goats to the trees just to attract tourists looking for a good shot, and charge a fee. If you love and respect animals, and care for the environment, don’t cooperate with this conduct. By all means, stop on the way, where you can rest, and watch the goats in their natural habitat, free and happy.

Goats onroute to Taroudant
Goats can be seen climbing Argan trees and nibbling its leaves
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Ahalan goaty

Argan Oil

Around Morocco you will notice many vendors trying to sell Argan oil or products containing the oil. The Moroccans boast the many benefits of the oil: great for hair (shine) and skin (moisturizer), health (lower blood pressure, cholesterol, prevent oxidation), and culinary (seasoning and flavoring).

I am sure you will also notice the men at the front of the stores, while the women who work on producing the argan oil, are quietly seated at the back of the store, or nearby, but are not involved in the selling process. Recently, more and more vendors will advertise  “women co-operatives” as their argan source. Unfortunately these are not always genuine. Please try to investigate, before buying, that the shop is indeed using an accredited all-women cooperative (which is usually supervised by the UCFA- Union of Argan Oil Women Cooperatives), that benefits women, especially Berber or Amazigh women at remote places, and part of the Moroccan heritage.

We visited the remote village of Tighanimine to purchase some Argan products directly from Coopérative Tighanimine, that runs solely by women, for women.

Argan products

Besides, when traveling to far off places, you encounter unexpected, fun things.

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Well, tajines are pretty much expected, but still nice to taste different variations
Touching base with the ocean
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Camel caravan. Never seen so many camels altogether in my life.
Passing Agadir in a flash

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