Hello, original traveler! I hope you are not still wondering if you should come to Morocco. I will save you some time: do come to Morocco! You feel tempted already: mysterious landscapes, desert breeze, bright sun, all the colors of the rainbow mixed together in a tagine, and cultural hospitality that speaks for itself. I let myself fall into temptation when the places I had visited in Europe no longer provoked the “open mouth” effect in me. An internal desire to be permanently in awe was growing to unsuspected proportions. That is how after some research I discovered the existence of the place that would become my first original destination: Taroudant.
The Medina of Taroudant
Taroudant is a small city or a big town (up to your geographical standards) with an enormous heart and a vibrant soul. Located an hour by car from Agadir, the famous surfing beach, Taroudant is a fortified agglomeration completely surrounded by ramparts, to which it owes the surname of the Grandmother of Marrakesh. Here, you will be a guest, not just a tourist that gets off a bus to take pictures and then leaves for a more popular destination because time is running out and you have to cover the Sous Valley in a day (I see people fitting this description quite often, I promise).
What to See: markets and landscapes
This smaller version of Marrakesh offers the best of both worlds: integration with the local culture, as well as an authentic taste of Arabic life without facing too much Western influence.
The Souk (Al Khazara door)
Concerning the traditional Moroccan markets, they are called “souks” (in Arabic) and offer a wide variety of products, from vegetables to teapots and clothes. The Grand Souk is located inside the Medina, 20 minutes by foot. It has many doors, some of which are misleading (tourist traps). I recommend exploring the souk by the “Al Kharaza” entrance. Do not be surprised at the absence of labels: it is a Moroccan habit to negotiate prices. Please feel free to ask a local before purchasing anything: the money foreigners and Moroccans pay for the same product can be surreal. Both shopping and photography lovers will be delighted: the Grand Souk offers a wide variety of colors, textures, and images. Just spending two hours there is a gift to the five senses.
The famous black soap, to be found in the souk
The ramparts that surround Taroudant were built during the 16th century. Nowadays, they constitute the background to breath-taking pictures. Despite the omnipresence of the walls, there is a particular spot that offers an incredible view of the city. To find it, enter the Medina through the “Bab Essalsla” door, then cross to the other side of the street and climb up the stairs to the rooftop. The rampart is maybe 4 meters tall, but it makes a lovely spot to admire the sunset like the guardians of the city did centuries ago. The contemporary use of the ramparts might be slightly different from that picture, though: young Moroccans have a blast here, taking selfies and videos for Snapchat (times change, right?).
The Millennial habit of taking photos at the ramparts
What to Eat: the delicious bakery
Millefeuilles and tea
The gorgeous beauty of Taroudant does not consist only on landscapes, but of flavors too. In every corner, the lucky visitor will find bakeries that sell masterpieces in the form of honey cakes, cookies and –my favorite– the famous millefeuilles (even though it is French, the Moroccan people managed to improve the recipe, in my opinion). These little doses of sweet happiness can cost from 1 to 4 dirhams (and taste the same or even better than the Parisian desserts). Be sure to have your millefeuilles with Moroccan tea: any restaurant will do for this purpose.
A glass of tea is a must on any trip to Moroccan cities
Smart traveling: connectivity
How to move to other cities from Taroudant
The connectivity of the city must be taken into account while deciding to include it as part of your journey: besides the touristic buses that enter and leave the Medina, there is a bus station that connects with Agadir, Marrakesh and even Zagora (quite far). The service of “shared taxis” is also available: it consists of sharing a cab with other five or six passengers; therefore prices are considerably low. Example: to get to Agadir (one hour and a half from Taroudant) the cost is 34 dirhams per person. These taxis are found in the bus station, and prices are fixed: never accept a higher rate.
Why is Taroudant worth a visit, after all?
The best of both worlds
Being a young Mexican woman whose trips consisted of visiting Europe (more precisely France and Italy) and the United States, Morocco was not only appealing: it intimidated me. I got off the plane with the sense of visiting a different planet rather than a different country. One month later, I sometimes have the impression of not having left my own homeland at all: busy avenues, street markets, people riding bicycles or motorcycles and talking on the phone at the same time, corn being roasted on the sidewalk and many, many young people on their way to work or school. Then, when I think I just adapted to life in here, I leave the house to step right into a street full of goats who wander shamelessly, interrupting the city traffic.
Finally, this city offers the taste of Moroccan life without being the typical destination in which tourists walk in a never-ending river of attractions and busy agendas. The people from Taroudant love to welcome foreigners, so sooner or later you won’t have enough time left to accept all the invitations from locals (I got the chance to attend a traditional wedding, it was priceless). For that reason, Taroudant is a perfect choice if you think that Marrakesh or Rabat are too crowded or stressful. Do you identify with people that enjoy socializing and sharing their culture with others (a traveler, in other words)? Then this must be your next destination. The personality of Taroudant is naturally sociable: just stopping by to take pictures would imply to miss its cultural richness.
The famous ramparts of Taroudant
Taroudant, a place for travelers (tourists very welcome, though)!