We were travelling with the kids, who are seven and four, so we took the advice of our hotel owner and arrived as it opened around 10:30 am, when it’s less busy. I would have happily stayed all day but it can be a bit overwhelming, especially if you’re not used to haggling, so we only stayed for a few hours each time we went. We avoided Jemaa El Fnaa – the main square – because of the hassle you get from pretty much everyone you pass, and stuck to the smaller streets and market squares.
I learnt quickly not to even ask about anything I wasn’t absolutely prepared to buy. Some shop owners were lovely and friendly, but others got rather grumpy (occasionally bordering on aggressive) if you engaged with them and then didn’t buy. I found that a bit frustrating – I wanted to know about all the things!
I’d planned my shopping list before I arrived, and went on the principle that if I could buy stuff for less than I’d pay in England, I’d be happy. Top of my list was a Beni Ourain rug for our living room. You can buy an 8′ x 10′ in the UK for about £700 – £1500 (or more). I asked at our hotel how much they’d expect to pay, and they reckoned that 3500 to 4500 dhms (£270 – £350) was a good price.
I got a bit over excited by all the prettiness (not an uncommon occurrence for me) and fell in love with a massive Berber kilim while I was there too. After two hours of discussion, I paid 7800 dirhams (£600) for both rugs.
I suspect I could’ve got them for a bit less based on the reaction of the shop owner (he seemed rather pleased), but based on how much they’d cost at home, I was more than happy. The kilim I bought (below) is huge – almost 10′ x 13′ – and it would be close to £1000 in the UK, if not more. So as far as I’m concerned, between the two rugs, I saved at least a grand. Score.
The rugs were all packaged up for me and I just checked them as hold baggage when we flew home.
I also bought a few other goodies including a Moroccan wedding blanket cushion cover for 150 dhm (£11.50), and a couple of Berber baskets – the type that go for £45 on Etsy – for 65 dhms each (£5).
The souks are very used to tourists, and most merchants speak English and/or French. You can hire guides to help you navigate, but we were told that they just take you to places where they make commission, and we had a little map that did the job just fine. I’ll show you where all my finds have ended up now we’re home in another post.