The Marrakech Souks

An antique seller with his wares

The Marrakech Souks are mainly or technically only in the northern part of the medina of Marrakesh (i.e. north of the Jemaa El Fna), although to tourists they are everywhere in the medina, both north and south. The souks are a labyrinthine network of alley ways or derbs with market stools or shops. They tend to be divided into categories such as shoes, metal, cloths etc. To the western eye, one wonders why anyone selling shoes would want to set up shop next to forty other shops selling shoes, and I still ponder this question. It is probably some local ruling, and yet one does find oddities amongst the herd. It is nice to simply amble through the souks, although we always recommend getting a good guide ( can advise on this). The souks are generally open from about 9 or 10am til between 7-9pm.

However, when shopping with a guide, you have to understand that they often get a cut of whatever you buy (maybe 5-10%), but there again if you find something you want, you are unlikely to find it again the next day, so just accept the way things are, providing the price is right for you.

You MUST always barter. In the west we are not used to bartering. And also, we are not used to shop keepers assuming that if you ask the price you may just be curious than being a serious buyer of sorts. If you like something, decide how much you would be prepared to pay and, after asking the price, and assuming it is being offered at a stupid price, offer between one third to 50% of the maximum price you would be prepared to pay, and take it from there. Do not go above what you are prepared to pay. If you ask the price first without thinking, go at 20% or one fifth of the asking price and see what happens. You will see amazing hystrionics, but if they want to sell they will come back. Just be hard and firm.

I remember bartering for three hours to buy some antique door latches, but I got a damn good price!! You won’t have that time to be honest, but don’t be ripped off. The only MUST SEE souk is the metal souks. If you walk into the souks from Rue Dar El Bacha they are to your left as you get into the souks properly. I was mesmerized when I first saw them, and everytime I go there I still find it amazing and somewhat medieval.