It was near the end of our Moroccan travels that we spent two nights in the charming city of Essaouira on the Atlantic Ocean. For us staying in Essaouira’s old town was a big hit. Other visitors however, may enjoy visiting the port, or just walking along the beach. Essaouira is indeed a refreshing break from the Morrocan desert and Morocco’s larger cities. Located about two hours drive from Marrakesh it is especially a pleasant escape from the desert heat during the hot months. We visited during November; so heat was not a problem. Of course Essaouira is a coastal delight any time of the year.
Essaouira’s walled city with its artisan shops, cafes, restaurants and spas is an exciting place to explore. As you walked through the narrow streets, within the walled city there are so many discoveries that await you. You can easily spend 2-3 days exploring this charming place. There is so much to catch your attention, as you walk down the narrow streets. The colorful displays of arts and crafts definitely caught my attention.
A walk through walled city makes you wonder about the history of Essaouira. Essaouira has archaeological ruins dating it back to prehistoric times. It was known as Mogador in the 16th century when Portugal built a fortress in this area. England, France, Netherlands and Spain all tried to conquer the area during the 16th century. It was in the 18th century that Essaouira was established by Mohammad III; from that time until end of the nineteenth century it served as Morocco's principal port. 1912-1956 Essaouira was part of the French protectorate of Morocco.
Discoveries inside the walled city
During our Essaouira stay we dined at a number of restaurants and street cafes. The sidewalk cafes are great for relaxing, or just people watching. Our first night in town our group had dinner at the El Mare Restaurant, which specializes in international cuisine and seafood in particular. We ordered a Cabernet Sauvignon, a Moroccan wine by the name of Les Vins de Cépage. From our Il Mare Restaurant table we enjoyed the music that evening. Amongst our orders included appetizers like Calamari. Some of our main plates included pizza, pasta, lobster, and fish. You may not imagine that we had room for dessert but we did.
On second night in Essaouira we discovered Laayoune Restaurant, a restaurant that offers a more typical Moroccan atmosphere and cuisine. We began with some tempting Moroccan appetizers, followed by a vegetable soup. Our main courses included dishes like Vegetarian Tagine and Tagine with Couscous. There were still dessert choices to make. We selected some sweet pastries and yogurt.
We discovered a number of spa options during our walk around old town. We decided to check out one of the local spas, Azur Art and Spa. We chose this particular spa primarily because it looked so inviting. You will find that many of the spas use products made from the local argan oil.
While in Essaouira our group stayed at the budget hotel, Hotel Beau Rivage inside the old walled city. My recommendation is to check out other accommodations in Essaouira at Tripadvisor.
It was not until near the end of our two-week Moroccan travels that we visited Essaouira, a coastal delight. After Essaouira we headed to Marrakesh for our last few days in Morocco. It is without doubt that Essaouira is a relaxing place to visit. I invite you to join me in my travels in Morocco and elsewhere in search of the best in Spaswinefood. You may also visit my travel column at the Examiner.
© Sharon Parsons
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