It is nearly the end of August and this morning I felt like writing a few lines about my summer in Morocco; and especially about the places and towns I visited.
Though I always favour far away destinations, I will certainly remember – a life lesson that this world wide pandemic we are going through is teaching us – that we were not taking the time to appreciate the treasures that are here in front of us.
Road trip on the Atlantic coast
At the end of July, we decided, with my husband, to go on a road trip in order to discover the amazing landscapes on the Atlantic coast of Morocco.
We first stopped in Oualidia, about 150 km south of Casablanca; this pretty seaside city owes its name to Al-Walid, a Sultan from the Saadian dynasty.
Known for being the most sheltered city of the north Atlantic coast, we decided to spend a few nights in the well preserved site of the Sultana Oualidia.
Idyllic stay at The Sultana Oualidia
By the lagoon, which is renowned for its oyster farming, it is the ideal place to rest and relax. On arrival, we were blown away by this exceptional resort with its 6500 square meters of garden, a private beach, an outdoor pool, a superb spa, a library area and many restaurants.
The striking architectural element that primarily caught our eye is the Moorish Fort, which emerges from a luxurious natural environment; it is a shelter for the hotel reception, the library area, a pool table and other public spaces.
Jungle chic accommodation
For accommodation, we had chosen the Cabane, totally made of wood, in order to have a unique and original experience for our first time in Morocco. Perched in a tree overlooking the lagoon, it offers panoramic views and allows its guests to feel completely disconnected. It is carefully decorated with particular attention to details, giving the sensation of well-being and serenity.
We also enjoyed our time spent on the hotel’s private beach, as well as the days by the ionised pool, overlooking the lagoon. It is also possible to board a local colourful boat to reach the other side of the lagoon, or to simply explore the area.
Finally, the place that I simply adored was the spa!! Made entirely of carved stones, it resembles a cathedral with its central pool, surrounded by columns that reach to the sky above! My photos show how absolutely magical this place is, I spent a whole afternoon there, enjoying treatments of undeniable quality
Dining in Oualidia
As far as food is concerned, the different restaurants at the Sultana Oualidia honour local and fresh produce from the ocean. We enjoyed some delicious sea food dishes, both at the Table de la Plage and at the O Bar.
Oualidia is without a doubt a reference for all those who want to enjoy a sea bass with salted crust, lobsters or oysters. We tried two restaurants in town, the Ostréa and the Araignée Gourmande, both renowned for the quality of their food and their service. Our experience was very pleasant in both and I cannot but highly recommend them. I would just give a special mention to Ostréa, which, located on the edge of the lagoon, overlooking a little lighthouse, is a simply magical place. I now know why VogueUSA has named Oualidia as the ‘Montauk of Morocco’!
Extraordinary Oualidia : Montauk of Morocco
We had the most restful stay in Oualidia, and I must say that we made an excellent choice with the Sultana !
All current sanitary measures in Morocco were carefully and professionally respected and the service and kindness of the whole hotel team was commendable. I certainly will be returning
The charming and captivating Essaouira
For the second part of our trip, we took a coastal road linking Oualidia to Essaouira; the best road if you want to enjoy beautiful landscapes as you can see from my photos below…
Essaouira, previously called Mogador or the ‘City of winds’ by the Portuguese, is a picturesque and charming port town.
It has city walls over two hundred metres long with fortified platforms, called the Sqala of the Kasbah and the Sqala of the port, as well as about twenty old bronze Spanish canons, dating from the 18th century.
The Medina, which I loved and personally class as the second best after the one in Fez, is a hot spot for tourists in Morocco. It is actually listed in the Moroccan historical monuments as well as the UNESCO world heritage since 2001! We walked around it several times and it is full of cafés, restaurants, small boutiques and art galleries.
I will share in this article some of my favourite places to visit
Heure Bleue Palace, the gem of Essaouira
For our accommodation, we chose the Heure Bleue Palace, which is part of the prestigious association of Relais & Châteaux, backing onto the city walls at the end of the Medina.
Built at the end of the 18th century, the Heure Bleue Palace was home to the Caid Mbark Saidi for many years. It was then left abandoned for around 30 years before the Azoulay family and friends, all ‘Souiris’, decided to restore it. For three years, many professionals from the town have dedicated their unique know-how, passion and heart to renovate it.
Like all authentic Moroccan houses, it has a traditional central patio that is lush and green and the decoration in all the common spaces is a delight for the eyes. The layout, which is elegant and refined, gives credit to the many styles that have influenced the town, such as European, Mediterranean, Arabic and African alike.
Its sublime panoramic terrace offers a breath-taking view, making it an ideal place to watch the sunset from.
We stayed in a premium suite, on the third floor, distinguished by its grand size and atmosphere. The aspect of design that I noted was the beautiful central fire place separating the daily living side, with its living area and office space, from the night living side, with its bedroom and bathroom. The warm colours that radiate from the zellige motifs on the floor and on the furniture gave a warm and serene atmosphere as soon as we stepped into the suite.
In fact, the Heure Bleue Palace is unquestionably a magical place where all the areas, including bedrooms and living spaces, converge to the patio. A fountain, in its centre, makes it the meeting place, where a soft piano melody serenades you from early evening.
Dining at Essaouira
We were pleasantly surprised by the high quality restaurants in Essaouira. I will name but a few
‘La table by Madada’, situated in the medina, is carefully designed, offering varied menus and a very good service! Its charming owner (also of the boutique hotel with the same name, Madada situated above the restaurant), is very welcoming and happy to give you advice on what’s new to see in town
The ‘Ocean Vagabond’ is situated on the seafront and we really enjoyed our time there. With its definite boho chic design, it promises a relaxing evening.
The ‘Chalet de la plage’ is a high profile restaurant in Essaouira. Also on the seafront, it has seen an impressive number of celebrities over the years. It is the place to go to taste some high quality seafood cuisine
Keeping busy at Essaouira
Our stay was full of long walks and relaxing moments…
As I said earlier, the medina has some very interesting places. ‘L’Atelier’, a design concept store, is a must if you want to buy traditional revamped items and pieces of furniture
‘Dmagaard’, a gallery situated in the old majestic warehouse opposite the clock tower, allows you to discover some artworks from ‘souiris’ artists. These quirky artists, Akjait, Bouslai, Elbaz and Touil, to name but a few, offer a popular and raw form of art, with its vibrant colours, varied styles and the omnipresence of nature.
And for those simply looking for a pleasant time, enjoying teas or cocktails, with a unique view over the town, the ‘Taros Café’ is the place to go!
The must-visit Sidi Kaouki !
Before I conclude the description of our little Essaouira escape, I would just like to mention this extraordinary place situated at Sidi Kaouki, 30 minutes from Essaouira.
My husband and I had always heard about the famous deserted beaches in Sidi Kaouki. This was the perfect opportunity to go and discover them, and we were not disappointed! The beaches are an ideal spot for surf lovers and the wilderness is spread over miles!
After a long walk by the sea, we had lunch in ‘La mouette et les dromadaires’, a unique place in Sidi Kaouki. With its relaxed look and its rustic and boho chic style, it invites guests to totally disconnect, looking out to sea.
Truly an amazing experience…
In few words, this road trip was a unique and memorable getaway! It has, without doubt, helped us rediscover the wonders of the Moroccan stay, with its welcoming atmosphere and tasty cuisine!
It definitely makes me want to plan more trips as soon as possible