As you might have noticed on our program of painting holidays for next year, we are venturing a little further afield to Morocco. So, why not come to paint with us in Morocco in 2023?
Over the years, between us, Si and I have done a number of trips to Morocco including a motorbike trip around Morocco for a month in 2018. We’ve nicknamed it “the nearest faraway land”. For those based in Europe or the UK, it’s a short hop by plane before you land in this country filled with contradictions.
Desert versus verdant green Oasis. The hustle and the bustle of the Medina versus the calm and tranquility of the riads. Wealth versus poverty. Colours versus neutrals. It’s a country that fascinates us both. So, when we were looking to expand our painting holidays outside of France, Morocco seemed like an interesting contrast.
So, to that end, we have just spent a wonderful week finalising all the details for our holiday next year when you can come to paint in Morocco with us. From painting locations to the accommodation that you will be staying in as well as some fabulous restaurants and cafés. But, fear not we won’t be going out every night. At the Riad in Marrakesh, we’ll be eating some fantastic local food cooked by two lovely Moroccan ladies who work at the Riad. The food we ate at the Riad was some of the best that we ate while we were in Morocco. From the fantastic Moroccan salads, the chicken tagine with olives and preserved lemon, to the vegetable cous cous and the Tanger (also known as the Lady of the ashes), a beef stew that is slow-cooked in a terracotta urn in the fires of the local hammam.
In Essaouira, we ate the freshest of fresh seafood, caught that day, to the best avocados that I have ever eaten. And in both locations, there was no shortage of fresh veggie dishes and wonderful fresh fruit for our vegetarian friends. Morocco is the land of the most delicious fresh fruit juices. And breakfast isn’t breakfast in Morocco without the sweetest fresh orange juice served with divine Moroccan bread and pastries. In Essaouira, with some help, I’ll also be conjuring up some delicious food to contrast with the local cuisine.
But what about the painting, I hear you say. The title of this article is Come paint with us in Morocco after all. But, fear not. We walked the souks and the medina of both Marrakesh and Essaouira until our feet hurt to find the perfect painting locations in both of our bases. In Marrakech, it’s all about the melée of the medina and its wonderful squares and markets. We’ll also be taking a day trip into the foothills of the Atlas mountains away from the dry spare landscapes around Marrakech, into the cooler, greener interior. To a location with a majestic view towards the higher mountains.
During the second half of the holiday, we move away from the dusty interior. Through the Argan forests where you might be lucky enough to see the classical scene of the goats perched in the branches of these trees to eat the tender leaves further up in the tree. Finally, we’ll catch a glimpse of the white buildings of Essaouira and the glint of the Atlantic in the distance.
In contrast to the courtyarded riad in Marrakech with the sound of tinkling water, the opulence of the traditional Moroccan furnishing, and colourful tiles and mosaics, our Dar in Essaouira is set in a large walled garden, shielding you from the world outside. Green lawns and palm trees, a 15m heated pool, and its traditional kasbah style architecture are another of those Moroccan contrasts. Cool neutral colours will soothe your soul and the waft of sea air straight off the Atlantic will excite your senses.
Essaouira is a complete contrast to the bussiness of Marrakech. This town has become increasingly popular after it was used as a filming location in “A Game of Thrones”, but despite this, it has still maintained its chilled-out coastal vibe that attracted the hippy generation, including Jimmy Hendrix in the 1960s and 70s. Its whitewashed building with royal blue shutters makes for a natural painting location. Its old fishing port will transport you back in time as locals haggle for fish caught fresh that day. And its colorful, open medina streets are a shopper’s paradise. Its unique grid-like street map makes finding your way around far easier than Marrakech with its warren of lanes.
We’ll also wander down the coast to a local surfers’ haven about 15 minutes from our Dar. Here you’ll spend the morning on the beach painting a lovely old building set on the rocks with the sea lapping up to the walls as the surf gently rolls in. We break for a late lunch in the cutest Vietnamese/Moroccan beach café, where the local donkey might just pop his head over the wall to say hello.
For you, like us, your last evening will be tinged with sadness when, as the sun sets for the final time and the sound of the call to prayer wafts in on the evening air, your holiday draws to a close. It’s time to pack your bags and say goodbye to old friends and new ones.
But, hopefully, you like us will have fallen in love with the contrasts of Morocco and will want to come back to explore it further and come paint in Morocco with us again.
You can find all the details and book this holiday here.