From EUR 330
A 4 days tour. After Marrakech "the Pink City", discover in 3 nights, Essaouira "the White and Blue", Essaouira “the Well designed“, planned in 1768 by the Sultan Mohamed ben Abdellah, and its French military architect Théodore Cornut.
Morning pick up in Marrakech from your hotel, then departure to Essaouira via Chichaoua and Ounagha. The terrain is relatively flat, with desert looking areas after Sidi Mokhtar. You will stop in Ounagha for wine testing and lunch in Val d’Argan vineyard and restaurant. The covered veranda is entirely lined by Moorish-style windows looking out onto acres of land, idyllic setting of grape vines growing in neat rows among bright blooming rose bushes and wild green fields as far as the eye can see.
Created in 1994 by a family of wine growers from Burgundy, The Val d'Argan rich and fertile soil has also been producing a great number of vines like Syrah or Grenache for red wines, Muscat de Hambourg for rosé and Viognier and Roussane for a very elegant white wine, together with a range of organic Clairette grapes. And since the very first bottle marketed in 2001, the range filled out to reach 14 types of wines, the only ones in Morocco with the European « Organic » Certificate.
Finally, some hills appear, with the Argan trees forest and soon you reach Essaouira and start with your visit.
Essaouira, which means « the well designed » in Berber, is a walled city dating back to the time of the Phoenicians. In 1506, the city - at that time called Mogador - became the seat of a Portuguese fortress and was strengthened by the construction of ramparts. Today’s Essaouira goes back to 1765, when the Alaouite Sultan Sidi Mohamed ben Abdallah decided to build a port for the city to open up on the world. He then appealed to Théodore Cornut, a French prisoner and specialist in military fortifications as a former student of Vauban, who drew inspiration from the lines of the fortifications at St Malo. He built the famous Scala, a 200m long esplanade complete with guns and a fort in the European tradition. This harbour then subsequently became an important hub for commercial activities with the south. Nicknamed ‘port of Timbuktu’, the port of Essaouira welcomed caravans heavy with loads of gold and spices from sub Saharan Africa.
The fishing port is an essential part of the city, active throughout the year – the ‘catch of the day’ is on offer at many of Essaouira’s charming seaside stalls and restaurants. Essaouira's medina, classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2001, is the only one in Morocco built according to a precise plan. Across the harbour the Purpuraires Islands, commonly called Mogador Islands, have been transformed into a nature reserve and home to Eleonora's falcon. The town’s unique aspect continues to inspire many artists and international filmmakers and the city is often used as a film location. Orson Welles’s Otello was the first foreign feature film shot in Essaouira in 1952, and more recently the American television series Game of Thrones.
Time permitting, enjoy a first panoramic tour of the city, then check in your riad or hotel. Dinner is at leisure in one of the many restaurants in the Médina. Overnight.
Ater breakfast, meet your private guide for a more in depths exploration of the City. Experience the sights and smells of its aromatic market, see the impressive town fortifications consisting of an amazing mixture of Portuguese and Berber architecture. Explore the Souks and the carpentry workshops devoted to cedar roots wood carving. See Art galleries doting the whole city - mainly exhibiting naive and ethnic Moroccan painters, and visit the fortified harbor with it’s stalls offering freshly caught grilled fish. At lunch (included), head straight to the fishing port for a well deserved "today’s catch" on the grill.
In the afternoon, two options are available (to be confirmed upon booking)
Option 1: Moroccan Pastries workshop,from 15.30 to 17.00 to share the traditional mint tea ceremony and to discover the well kept secrets of Moroccan pastries & sweets: gazelle horns, ghoriba, crêpe baghrir or msemen… Net per person : +25€
Option 2: 2 hours Wind-surfing lesson with a professional monitor. Equipments provided. Net per person : +35€
But also « Far Niente » is possible or more private visiting of this charming city.
Dinner at leisure and overnight at your riad.
Breakfast at your riad.
A few kilometers away from the city is a wonderful opportunity to visit the countryside around and to attend an authentic Souk (berber market). The Souk is a weekly rural marketplace for the necessities in the region. Locally produced vegetables, olive and argan oil, fruits, cereals, herbs and honey. Living animals like cows, camels, donkeys, sheep, goat, chicken, birds are for sale as well as animal products like milk, eggs and meat slaughtered in the morning. If you are looking for anything to buy you will find it in the souk. After the "medieval looking" market, you will have the opportunity to visit an Argan oil cooperative run only by women.
Argan Oil is a rare and precious commodity. It has been used in the beauty rituals of Moroccan women since Antiquity. Argan trees only grow in the semi-desert area of south western Morocco. They produce fruit smaller than apricots. Goats love this fruit delicious and climb the prickly Argan trees to eat it. In such cooperative, the process of extracting food and cosmetic oil is a mother’s heritage to her daughters.
Back to Essaouira for lunch at leisure, followed by Hammam (Oriental Steam bath with skin scrubbing) and massage to experience the Argan oil beneficial treatments. Dinner at your riad.
Breakfast at your riad and return to Marrakech hotel, where you will be dropped any you hotel or airport or train station.