Taroudant and Souss Valley

Beez Neez
Skipper and First Mate Millard (Big Bear and Pepe)
Tue 4 Nov 2008 23:32

Taroudant – Attractive Southern Charm?

 

Taroudant in the Souss Valley lies between Agadir and Taliouine. Being one of the most fertile regions in the south, with a river that runs all year long, leaders and sultans have used it throughout history as a base from which they would attempt to take over the stronghold of Marrakesh. With the modernisation from historical construction to the more recent craze of cinder-block houses, the ancient beauty that Taroudant once held remains a spark in the traveller’s imagination. When the French were controlling the area (and keeping a close eye on this small, yet strategic town), they built some impressive buildings that line the streets, especially near Bab Kasbah. Located on the eastern section of the wall, Bab Kasbah has been marked as an important historical site by a plethora of historical organizations and societies who want to protect it from any sort of ‘modernization’ that has occurred elsewhere.

 

   

 

The tagine shop, Bear with lids to his left, bases to his right. What are the chances of an effective stock take ????.

One of the best reasons to travel to Taroudant it has one of the south’s most charming souks. Most people in the area speak Tashelheit, or the Berber language of the south. So, even if you can get by with a little Arabic, a few words in Berber will get you better deals on all sorts of fruits and vegetables grown in the rich valley. But, the best attraction of the area is the spices that adorn the weekly market’s streets. The tantalizing smell of paprika, cumin, cinnamon, and coriander fill the air. We bought some of the areas famous 45 a spice that you buy from a pyramid made up of 45 spices in layers. Shops and most other vendors thought Morocco sell it already mixed, this showed a novel way to market the product. Taroudant has a population of around 70,000, a huge increase from early estimates that put the city’s census at 5,000 in the mid-1960s. However, the small-town feel of the area is uncanny and is a nice break from the tourist hustle and bustle of Marrakesh. 

 

   

 

We had lunch in a small eatery in the main square, Bear was served steaming Lamb Tagine with the traditional boiled egg on the top. Three men watching and looking down at the one worker. The typical 'resting men' and mules and carts.

 

Taroudant is a majestic (taken from the tour guide), brown-walled city sometimes called the 'Grandmother of Marrakech' as it seems to be a smaller, slower-paced version of Marrakech. The city is one of the most elegant in the country (obviously drunk as skunks when they visited or couldn't type the truth) and you will see beautiful buildings? and the stunning craftsmanship? that adorns the city's facades. Taroudant is perhaps most noted for its crafts - so if you plan to shop, this is the place to do it. Off hand, Taroudant may seem a bit confusing as there are a large number of ramparts that head off in every direction. However, once you figure it all out you can make your way to the souks and workshops in the central part of town and enjoy some shopping. The metal work here is very good; it can even be considered superior to most of that found elsewhere in Morocco. If you are not shopping for jewellery, the carpets here are also quite popular. Everything is reasonably priced and exceptionally good value for money. There are three shopping districts in Taroudant, Morocco, so you'd better make sure you find them all! I bought Pete a pair of traditional yellow slippers for 50 Dirham's. I went to another stall to buy myself a red pair. I told the vendor what I had just paid and he started at 250, then said "OK give me 75". I handed the 50 and went away with my red slippers !!! Way too many tourists have been in his shop.

 

   

 

Car "with one careful owner", free goatskin dashboard cover. Out on the road again, we hung back from this load in case 'it dropped it's load'.

 

It says in the guide book "Enjoy your little stop in the 'Grandmother of Marrakech' " . Little visit is about all you need.

 

          

 

The very fertile Souss Valley, our final sunset as we left the National Park. This is not well advertised, it was my wish to drive there to see the 'birthplace of the Atlas Mountains'. We only found it because we had researched the area. There were no 'brown signs' on the road leading to this area at all, the Government could make so much of this as a tourist spot, twitchers and photographers dream place. We drove through a real Berber village called Massa, we were quite a novelty, as we stopped for some photos, they assumed we were lost and offered us rooms in their homes "until you can see in day time".

 

All in all I think by the time we got here we were 'Moroccaned out' and perhaps gave it less of a fair crack of the whip. NO. Only worth being in the area for the goats, the Gazelle D'Or and the Souss Valley.