Essaouira is a quaint coastal town 3 hours drive from Marrakesh. It’s a bustling fishing port with the freshest seafood you’ll ever eat. Be sure to visit the wharf for an authentic glimpse into local life. You can buy directly from the fisherman and have your fish cooked in a nearby park.
Essaouira has a chilled, relaxed vibe with a café culture. You can easily spend a few days exploring, shopping and soaking up the atmosphere. There are upmarket boutiques, art galleries and small shops. Morocco is a shopper’s paradise and Essaouira does not disappoint.
Take a look down this lane way. I walked past several times before the temptation was too much. Hidden behind these walls were 3 shops specializing in rugs.
Normally I’d prefer to buy direct from the artisan. However, most Moroccan rugs are woven in rural areas and it’s a difficult and time consuming process.
I took a couple of steps into the lane way and began chatting to Rachid. I felt zero pressure so I happily ventured into his shop. I looked around (there were hundreds of rugs!) and I asked to look at red vintage rugs. We ventured upstairs to view the vintage collection. OH MY…… I knew I was in trouble! He proceeded to throw more than 30 red rugs onto a pile. I narrowed it down to a few favourites and then Rachid told me the story behind the rug. I immediately fell in love with the story. The 4 colours in the border represent the 4 seasons. He pointed out the image which represents what you put into the world, you get back. I was hooked and knew that was the rug for me!
Rachid and his team know how to package a rug for travel. My 10kg rug was rolled, wrapped and came with a handle made of string. I was able to check it with my suitcase …… thanks Qatar Airways for the generous 30kg luggage allowance!
When I visited Essaouira the following year, Rachid immediately remembered me and described my rug. When I asked him how he remembered me, he said it was because I was funny and made him laugh! I suggested next time he should remember me for my beauty!
My 5 tips for rug shopping in Morocco
- Never buy under pressure
- Always bargain (go hard or go home!)
- Have fun! I like to keep the mood light hearted and find it usually makes for a more positive result!
- Take a photo (it might be a few weeks before you unwrap it!)
- Take a video of the story behind the quilt (if you are lucky enough to find out)
If shopping for rugs in Morocco is on your bucket list, check out our Morocco tours. We are hoping to reschedule for 2021.