Haggling in the street markets in Marrakech is a big part of the fun of Morocco. However, after visiting these hectic Souks a dozen of times, I prefer the relaxing alternative – Ensemble Artisanal, a Moroccan crafts complex sponsored by the local government.
l’Ensemble Artisanal is located close to the main Jemaa el Fnaa square. Follow the Muhammed V avenue towards Gueliz and in 5 min fast walk you find the place.
After stepping into the building, don’t rush and enjoy the beautiful ceilings and mosaics.
A must place for a picture:
Ensemble Artisanal complex features a variety of shops with an integrated open working place, as well a small restaurant, toilet and a cashpoint. In the complex you can buy housewares, furnitures, music instruments, clothes, fabrics, paintings, drawings, carpets, cosmetic, oils, ceramic mosaics, leather products, jewellery, shoes, bags, wooden sculptures etc.
This peaceful oasis is a perfect spot to hide from the summer heat. While drinking a glass of fresh orange juice, you can also get a henna painting (50 Dh/around 4,50 euro).
The prices in Ensemble Artisanal are fixed and can be a slightly higher than in the Souks. However, the profit goes directly to the local producers, so I don’t mind paying. I rarely bargain, but if I buy more they often please me with a small presents (yes, dear friends, that’s why you all received so many babouche keyrings).
Ensemble Artisanal is a perfect place to practise before getting lost in the labyrinth of the Marrakech souks. How else you can know the approximate price of leather slippers (babouche)? In Ensemble Artisanal you can buy them for around 70 Dh (6 euro), therefore you know with what amounts you are dealing later in the street markets. After intensive bargaining in the Souks the prices can fall from 250 till 60 Dh!
Here is what I bought in Ensemble Artisanal today (70 dh):
Before leaving you to explore the picture gallery, an interesting fact. Roughly 60 per cent of the working Marrakech population are artisan. I don’t remember where I heard this number, but after living here for a while this percentage sounds very real.