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Travel: Marrakesh - The French Scent Morocco, 04/21-24/2023. Back to SF

Updated: Jul 18

The 12 days of organized tour to Morocco, which I joined in Casablanca on April 10th and which was over on April 20th, ended with the news about the alarming sickness of my dear friend Madeleine who joined me, on the group trip.

Once Madeline landed in Israel, she duly notified she was tested positive for Corona.

As the papers have been reporting, a fresh but mild Covid-19 wave has been rippling through Asia (here), tailing also the group participants.

I who stayed behind with David, for an extra 4 nights in Marakesh, showed no symptoms so far and hoped not to have been contaminated..

After spending mainly touring Morocco’s exotic but decrepit medinas, Casbss and Berber habitat, as well as overdosing on the limited food pallet of Cuscus and Tanggine

I was delighted to feel the scent of French civilized Surrounding, as well as devour the food of French restaurants, which the more modern parts of Marrakesh can offer .

The French Section

Marrakesh is comprises by 5 leading arrondissements/ quarters a configuration which is the result of a historical evolution.., named:;

Medina, Mellah, Gueliz, Hivernage and Chrifia. each has its own characteristics and is somehow different from the other

The Es Saadi Palace hotel we stayed in, is set in the French originated Hivernage niegborhood It is a fabulous one of a kind, accommodation a arrival to the famous Palace Mamounia Hotel

Es Saadi -The Happy One”,

Avenue Quadissia, 40000, 05243-37400

Es Saadi, which means “The Happy One”, was created by Jean Bauchet (1906-1995) and his wife - owners of the Moulin Rouge and Casino de Paris.

A former artist, Bauchet was an acrobat and a singer, who became a show entrepreneur: of the Moulin Rouge, director of the Casino de Paris and the Théâtre du Chatelet, and also created casinos in Lebanon.

The couple bought 8-acres of vacant land in 1952, on which they initially built a Casino. in the Hivernage neighborhood, facing the snow-capped Atlas Mountain, and near the Medina quarter - the heart of Marrakesh, 10 minutes’ walk from Djemaa El Fna square and market place of the (old city

View of medina - old historic center from the hotel

In front of the Casino

Morocco’s first casino, inaugurated in 1952.and ully renovated in 2003, the now-iconic establishment.

The Casino host the famous Theatro night club - the first ever music hall in Africa was born,60 years ago , and is considered best nightclub in Africa since 2003

in 1966, they inaugurated next to the Casino a Resort Hotel of 150 rooms and added private 10 villas favored by film stars during the December film festival,

The spacious cultivated ground is all surrounded by a fabulous lush greenery, consisting of palm trees, banana trees, olive trees, bougainvillea and delicate Marrakech roses, enjoyed also by a variety of song of birds, that also share in the guests' breakfast taken in the garden , as well as frequent freely the inside of the hotels suites when the balconies' doors are left wide open.

The Palace, Hotel in which David and I stayed, (after I was done with the group trip) and which is situated the midst of the private gardens next to the Resort hotel and Casino structures, was added in 2007,

Moulay Lamghari Abdelaziz was the architect of the ground's complex.

The Palace Lobby

The Palace structure is tribute to all Oriental styles, inspired by architectural elements from Persia, Andalusia and Egypt combined with Moroccan family traditions

The ground has one of the largest in Marakech 400m² , heated in winter, amazing

out-door swimming pool.

The Palace's 90 balconied suites. are exquisitely furnished, spacious full of authentic charm and modern comfort, Being completely renovated with sumptuous decoration and created by the unique master Craftsmen of Morocco,. the walls and furnishings keep the Es Saadi legend alive with a 1950s feel.

Since the creation of the Resort the Es Saadi Hotel has been a benchmark luxury hotel

It hosted countless international celebrities and members of royalty such as ,couturier Pierre Balmain, Josephine Baker, the Rolling Stones and Leonardo DiCaprio, to name just a few,

Es Saadi’s opulent Palace interiors stood in as the luxury hotel in the BBC adaptation of John Le Carre’s "The Night Manager"

In addition to the 2 hotels (L’Hotel and Le Palace), the complex offers 8restaurants, four bars, three outdoor pools (two heated) and a huge indoor hydrotherapy pool, hammam and sauna in an extensive fabulous spa, which hosts the only Dior Institute outside Paris. I had a fantastic facial treatment with these products at the spa.

Élisabeth Bauchet-Bouhlal, daughter of the Resort’s founder., had followed in her father’s footsteps to become the Es Saadi “builder” and update creator of the 21st cand now the third generation has taken up the torch with the same devotion to hospitality.

We absolutely loved our stay in the Hotel !!!

The French Neighborhoods

Prior to independence, Morocco was home to half a million Europeans and European Christians formed almost half the population of the city of Casablanca.[2] Since the kingdom's independence in 1955, the European population has decreased substantially.

At the beginning of the 20th c, 250,000 Spaniards lived in Morocco. Most left Morocco after its independence and their numbers were reduced; It is estimated by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs that there are about 41,129 French citizens registered as permanent residents in Morocco. This number would place the French as one of the largest migrant groups in Morocco, the French community stands out, and about 3o,000 of them reside in Marrakesh.

L' Hivernage /Wintering Neieborhood

Located between the Menara and the Jemaa el-Fna square , this neighborhood is

home to many hotel complexes. including the Es Saaidi Hotel

The main thoroughfare in the neighborhood is Avenue Mohammed VI . At the junction between L'Hivernage and the district of Guéliz is the Gare de Marrakech . The Palais des Congrès de Marrakech and the Royal Theater are among the remarkable buildings of L'Hivernage.

Gueliz Quarter

Guéliz is the oldest district of the new city of Marrakech, designed in 1913 by Henri Prost supported by Resident General Hubert Lyautey

The name of the qurter connotes with that of Jbel Gueliz, the hill which limits the area to the northwest, occupied since the French protectorate by a military base.

The name of the hill is probably a deformation of the Berber term Igiliz , the name given to the mountain which was the center of the Almohad movement in the Anti-Atlas

This name is old since it is already attested in the 12th when Abu al-Abbas as-Sabti made a spiritual retreat there.

Local folk etymologies derive Gueliz from the presence of English ( Ingueliz ) or church .

The main axis of the quarter is Avenue Charles Mangin, which connects the Koutoubia main town's mosque to Jbel Gueliz, renamed Avenue Mohammed V in 1957 .

Under the protectorate a strict urban planning charter was enacted prohibiting fixing the maximum height of buildings at 3 floors as not to surpass the Koutoubia and imposing the reddish ocher color which is valid to today , on all buildings, giving it the nick name "Red City"

During the protectorate the quarter was mainly inhabited by French and European families. predominately in family villas.

In 1919, the area had only 870 inhabitants. Since the early 2000s, it has experienced accelerated transformation. Almost all of the colonial villas have been transformed into apartment buildings.

From 1994 to 2004 the quarter saw an increase in population, from 148,305 inhabitants to 173,101 inhabitants. and to 188,333 inhabitants. in 2014

The historic Gueliz market was demolished and replaced by the Carré Eden shopping center , inaugurated in 2014.

Place duNovember 16, at the corner of avenues Mohammed V and Hassan II , are another shopping areas and another commercial area, the Marrakech Plaza , was opened in 2007. At the western end of the quarter is, the new Marrakech train station inaugurated in 2008.


On Friday eve of Eid alFitr - the end of the month-long dawn-to-sunset fasting of Ramadan (.4/21) after the sounding of a long trumpet was heard in the medina old center, sharply at 6:00pm, all the shops in the meandering narrow allies got shut,

The push-cart vendors vanished, the reckless cyclist ramming their way through the loads of strolling tourists, disappeared as did the tourists, and the entire medina which just, completely emptied out. fall into a bizarre silence

The only voice that could be heard ,was that of the monotonous repetitive ringing pray of religious muezzins, which blasted off the operating Taxis radios on and on, and which drove my unaccustomed ears to an unbearable aching irritation.

All commercial was put to halt and all was closed and quite on the next main day as well., until sun down

Once the holiday was over, the entire city perked up again and the city's hullabaloo returned , A swarm of people poured out into the streets, strolling the sidewalks and filling up the restaurants and Cafe places, The roads which were filled up with cars and motor bikes turned into a moving trail of traffic jams, and a life hazard to those wishing to cross the street. One big happening celebration took over the streets.

Great French Patisseries

Amoud Patisserie


MG - Maison Mignardise


70° Bd Abdelkrim Al Khattabi,Marrakech - +212 5253-03025

Great place

Great French Restaurants

L’O a La Bouche

4 Rue Badir 0666483233

Highly Recommended

La Palace

Av. Echouhada,, Hivernage 05244-58902

The restaurant is beautiful and close to the Es Saaisi Hotel however although the food is good is it is on the unjustified expensive side

L' Ardoaz

24, rue yougoslavie – Guéliz – Cuisine française +212 5 24 44 86 69

Le Petit Cornichon

rue Moulay Ali +212 5244-21251

Mandarin Oriental (on the Right side)

Rte Golf Royal · 05242-98888

For Hair Saloons

Comprehensive Hair Dresser:

Jaquse Dessange - Salon en Lace by Theater Royal 0524433495


Av. Mohamed V ongle nue Imam Ali, 212 6620983 +212633343434


Back to San Francisco

The long trip which started from Israel on March 3rd, with a visit to Amsterdam, then London, Barcelona and other cities in Spain like Tarragona Girona, Saragossa and

San Sebestian, continued to Tangier in Morocco , and followed up with a group trip to Casablanca and Morocco’s 4 imperial cities : Rabat, Meknez , Fez and Marrakesh, as well as a short taste of the Sahara desert, (up to April 20) and ending on April 24th, after 4 extra days of private stay at the Es Saaidi fantastic hotel in Marrakesh

At Marrakesh Airport

Marrakesh- Menara ( (RAK) ) modern arrival/departure international terminal, built in in 2006-2008 is most impressive and was designed by E2A Architecture

The stunning building is covered by a dramatic cantilevered structural canopy, protecting the internal spaces from the harsh Moroccan sun. Openings in the structure let in natural light while filtering it with arabesque screens and patterned transparent photovoltaic (PV) cells on the rooftop

The uneventful flight back from Marrakesh, via Madrid and a layover night in Heathrow airport, eventually, landed us safely back, in San Francisco, on a sunny most warm day. ,

What a strange coincidence it was, that the first movie I ,picked to watch-on the plane, about which I knew nothing, but liked the actors Ralph Fines and Jessica Chesthen

The film is called “The Forgiven”

The Forgiven is a best-selling 2012 psychological thriller by Lawrence Osborne, based loosely on a true story set in the deserts of Morocco,

We landed as Israel's 75th Independence day celebrations,

which sadly we had to miss this year, started taking place in the country..

The largest street party's theme of this year took place in TLV and definitely focused on "Democracy"



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