Lunching up high at Nomad
1:00 p.m. – After setting up my room, I start to feel hungry and therefore take my first sweet stop, way up high. With a sumptuous view over the tumultuous souks, the Nomad restaurant is very welcoming, its large terrace filled with sun in winter and summer seasons alike. I venture into the refined delicacies of Moroccan tradition and find out about the various subtleties that spices hold. I'd gladly go for one of my very favourites, the lamb tagine with zucchini flower fritters and feta cheese, but I'm also tempted by the calamari in cumin infused ginger sauce. That's what I'd call a very successful arrival!
1 Derb Aarjan
+212 (0) 524 38 16 09
Promenade in the Ben Youssef Madrasa
4:00 p.m. – After this very flavourful lunch, I head for the famous Ben Youssef Madrasa, only a few minutes away from the restaurant by foot. You have to imagine the place in its prime, when its reputation transcended borders and almost a thousand knowledge-hungry students were being taught in its midst. I venture in this historical monument to visit the rooms, notably those on first floor, the windows of which give onto the madrasa's little countryards. They are testimonies of the student life of the era. Not without emotion, this digestive stroll allowed me to discover another side of Moroccan art.
Ben Youssef Madrasa
Place Ben Youssef
+212 (0) 524 44 18 93
Bô Zin, a must-go-to restaurant
8:00 p.m. – I relaxed in my room for a few minutes before hoping on a grand taxi. I'm having dinner at Bô Zin, on the road to Ourika and only 10 minutes away from the city centre. As a sidenote, Pierre and Héléna own this as well as the Grand Café de la Poste. At first, the restaurant was a private residence that was enlarged as time went by. It finally became that essential stop of modern, chic and trendy character, riddled with bamboo and palm trees.
The menu being of international nature, I order Asian starters – shrimp and Thai basil spring rolls – before giving in to a more typical dish. I hesitate between a veggie couscous, meat skewers and slow roasted lamb, méchoui style. No dessert for me tonight, as everything happens either at the bar or in the garden. It is with a refreshing drink in hand that I listen to the thrilling sounds of the DJ.
Bô Zin Restaurant
Douar Lahna, route de l'Ourika 3,5 km
+212 (0) 524 388 012
Jad Mahal palace, a show in the Hivernage district
11:00 p.m. – I elbow my way in up to a table facing the band on stage, composed of a dozen singers and musicians. They cover classics by Queen, Michael Jackson, Prince, James Brown and Khaled. The song segues are perfectly executed and the atmosphere gets hot when instruments do the talking.
Palais Jad Mahal
Rue Haroun Errachid
+212 (0) 524 43 69 84
Raspoutine, journey to the end of the night
2:00 a.m. – On my way to Raspoutine, right next to Jad Mahal. All the tables are already taken, but I still managed to sneak in this already famous night spot – it only opened in December 2016, kid brother of the Russian legend on the Champs-Élysées in Paris. I see life through my rose-tinted glasses in this carmine red velvet decor and start to sway my hips in the “square”, above the ground. At 4 a.m., dawn is near and it is time for me to rest after this crazy day filled with discoveries.
10, rue Haroun Errachid
+212 (0) 616 60 94 70
Peaceful night at Selman Marrakech
4:00 a.m. – I return to my room in this sumptuous showcase of sweetness. The art of entertaining has always been nurtured in Morocco. As such, the Selman Marrakech hotel run by the Bennani Smires family stands as a proud ambassador with 55 suites, 5 riads and 3 outdoor pools – one of which is 88 yards long, and that I'll gladly try out when I wake up. Inside the mythical building, I happily discover the codes of a refined decoration designed by Jacques Garcia, at once modern and harking back to Moroccan identity. My gaze is turned towards equestrian sculptures, and I'm completely enthralled by the spectacle of free-ranging horses galloping on the green pastures of the property. This stud farm brings real authenticity to this place.
Km 5 route d'Amizmiz
+212 (0) 524 45 96 00
Al Fassia, women's cuisine
1:00 p.m. – After a lovely night and a few lengths, I'm on my way to explore the Al Fassia restaurant. For more than thirty years now, traditional Moroccan food lovers have gathered here to enjoy dishes that make this address of the Gueliz neighbourhood especially successful. Little Moroccan salads made of carrot, eggplant, tomato or zucchini, meat or vegetable briouats, tagines, couscous and most importantly the roasted lamb shoulder – the speciality of this all-women restaurant – pass before my eyes and end up in my plate. In order to stay fit, I'm planning to run tomorrow morning, for I couldn't resist the cornes de gazelle, the almond-based and boomerang-shaped Moroccan pastries, served with mint tea.
Al Fassia Gueliz restaurant
55, boulevard Zerktouni
Résidence Tayeb Ier
+212 (0) 524 43 40 60
Shopping on the Rue de la Liberté
4:00 p.m. – At Place Vendôme (for real!)… Jewellery, bags, trousers and jackets all demonstrate the quality and care put into Moroccan craftsmanship. A few feet from there, I enter Madame Halimi's sweet lair, as she makes me boxes of cornes de gazelle – beautifully arranged – that I'll bring back with me to Paris. Cash only, no credit cards there.
141, avenue Mohammed-V
+212 (0) 524 43 52 63
Al Jawda bakery (Madame Halimi)
11, rue de la Liberté
+212 (0)524 43 38 97
34, rue de la Liberté
+212 (0) 0524 43 64 09
Jemaa el-Fna square, Marrakech's epicentre
7:00 p.m. – Is it even possible to visit Marrakech but not this large square of which it is the symbol? No obviously, for as night falls, date and orange resellers charm visitors, ephemeral restaurants cook grilled food and snake charmers lull you with bewitching skills. I take a seat at the Café de France to enjoy the show before roaming the multiple and colourful alleyways of the souk. On my wish list: fabrics, jewels, spices and many other eastern treasures.
Jemaa el-Fna square
A terrace full of spices
9:00 p.m. – In the heart of the medina, this terrace is located above an open square filled with lovely shops showcasing Moroccan craftsmanship, and it is assuredly a magical place to gaze at the Atlas mountains and the Koutoubia. Chicken pastilla, cheese and vegetables briouats and lemon chicken tagine are some of the Moroccan dishes you can eat up while setting the world to rights under Marrakech's starry sky.
La Terrasse des Épices
15, souk Cherifia - Sidi Abdelaziz
(in the Medina, 500 feet from Dar El Bacha)
+212 (0) 524 375 904
Relaxing at the Beldi Country Club
9:00 a.m. – After a second night of wonder at the Selman hotel, I start the day by paying a visit to the Beldi Country Club. I love starring at the numerous rosebushes and then take a bath. The 115-feet long historical swimming pool is truly magnificent, redolent of indefinable garden scents. In the distance, the Atlas snowcaps create a stark contrast with the deep blue sky. I order a refreshing drink, comfortably lying on my mattress. This morning has been resting so far, but the rest of the day promises to be athletic.
Beldi Country Club
Km 6 route du Barrage Cherifia
+212 (0) 524 383 950
Golf at the Royal
Before flying back to Paris, I feel an urge to use my golf club and putter the small white ball. How convenient! Marrakech happens to be a paradise for golfers. In this Eden, one golf course beats all the others: the Royal Golf de Marrakech, taking me on a walk among eucalyptus and palm trees, olive and orange groves and Aleppo pines. Competition is tough, except on the curvy hole #15 nicknamed “Brigitte Bardot”. As I leave, I already miss eastern sweetness and the thought of coming back soon is on my mind.