You’ve seen the little airplane backpack that Marcelo carries on the front page of BozAround…and you’ve asked me so many times where it’s from…Designed by the wonderfully creative husband-and-wife team behind Zid Zid Kids and proudly Made in Morocco! I have followed their work ever since we met in 2006, and I am a big fan. Their playful and colourful universe reminds me of my North African childhood (from neighboring Algeria). If only we could find their creations in more stores in Europe (any buyer reading?!), I would not have to fly to Marrakech this week end to get my Houb pillows (the very very last trip in our sabbatical, just the 2 of us). Everything they do always make for the perfect gift. Here, Julie shares her favourite addresses in Marrakech and around, a city you are better off visiting with insider’s tips if you don’t want to get lost in the Medina. Choukrane Julie!
The Zid Zid Kids family – portrait:
We are your average artistic, outdoor loving, multi-lingual, home cooked food adoring, explorer loving family! There is me Julie, I was born in Germany and raised in Ohio and NYC. There is Moulay, my graphic designer husband and business partner, born and raised in Casablanca, Morocco. There is Noor age 9, my muse and future budding playwright born in Cambridge, MA. There is Zak age 7, chief bug finder and future builder of tree houses, born in Marrakech, Morocco
We left Cambridge, MA for Marrakech, Morocco in the fall of 2002 and haven’t really looked back as there is so much to discover here.
Tell us about the philosophy of Zid Zid Kids and how Morocco inspires you:
Our philosophy is to incorporate time-tested traditions and combine them with bold modern styling while using only the best, most natural materials found locally. The spirit of our line is really blending the eclectic mix of the ancient spells of this place, marry it with rich fabrics and embody the creative spirit of each child into each piece we make. I draw much of my inspirations from Morocco as I love the handmade traditions found everywhere; whether it is knitting, pottery, metal, weaving, embroidering, sewing, candle making, tile making, word working, carving, you can find it all, thriving as it has for centuries.
Morocco is truly its own handmade nation. This always gets me incredibly inspired to join in the creative energy! I love having my own workshop, as I can tap directly into my inspirations at any time as well as have a 100% direct involvement with production from beginning to end. This is an important part of the creative process for me.
Your recommended itinerary for a family vacation in Marrakech and beyond:
If your time is short, say a week, then I recommend 3 days in the Medina or the Palmeraie…
If you love to be surrounded by old architecture, winding alleys, hustle & bustle, then a stay in the Medina is for you. There is nothing more stimulating than to have the excitement, colors, sounds, textures of the Medina around you and then step through an ancient door into the hushed luxury of a century old riad where you hear nothing but a fountain, the birds and be filled with the scent of floating jasmine and mint tea.
The kids will be dazzled by the fountains, cats, tiled floors, and interesting corners to be explored.
If you are more of a nature lover and prefer open spaces, then an outlying neighborhood that won’t disappoint is the Palmeraie, a very large Palm Oasis set right outside of Marrakech. Legend has it that this Oasis exists simply because centuries ago, when Moroccan soldiers had camped here, they ate many dates and from the remaining pits came the palm trees. In this oasis, you will be spoiled by incredible beauty of a Desert landscape.
And don’t let the word Desert scare you, this type of landscape is especially diverse, fascinating and surprisingly green in some areas. Stop to study the natural architecture around you and enjoy its lush setting. Here you can watch the sun set in peace surrounded by humbling palms that feel like old friends.
The kids will have non-stop fun exploring the strange bugs that can be found, climbing the palms and spending time with the camels.
Then 3 days exploring the Ourika Mountains…
After a few days getting your bearing in the city, hire a taxi to take you out towards the Atlas Mountains which the foothills are about an hour away. The Ourika Valley is filled with interesting villages, souks and you can get a feel for the real Morocco. The drive up is beautiful. You can easily hire a guide that will be able to provide you with as many mules as you need, so much fun for the kids, and tailor a hike just for you – half hour, hour and more.
Asni is a great region to explore. You can walk for 1-2 hours and make it back for a fresh lunch at any of the local rustic & charming French run hotels or catch a delicious slow cooked Berber tagine on the side of the road (where the locals eat).
Pick a little auberge at the foothills, refresh in rustic simplicity and explore the region!
These are good addresses:
– L’Oliveraie de Marigha – restaurant & piscine
– La Bergerie – lush yet rustic hotel, restaurant, piscine, mountain treks, gardens
– Or Near Toubkal, the famous Hotel Kasbah Toubkal – one of the best eco hotel in the world, sitting on an amazing site!
For Marrakech and beyond 15 days…
Get your fill of the Medina for 4 days and then pack yourselves for a Sahara Desert trek, with a 2 day stop in the stunning Palmeraie village of Skoura – the whole trip is kid heaven. Once in the Desert, ride the camels, scale the dunes, have couscous under the stars and tuck yourselves to sleep beautiful tents in the middle of the Desert….a trip your little ones will remember for a lifetime.
Zid Zid’ Zak drawing inspired in Marrakech
PLAY in MARRAKECH and beyond
When in town, we really love discovering fun of the Medina, le musee du Marrakech, the old palaces like le Palais du Badii for drawing, the Institute Francaise for concerts, films and books. Our favorite playground is located at Casa Botanica, the gorgeous pepiniere right outside of town. There you will find the delicious eco-friendly Café Flower Power, along with a great eco-friendly farm style park for kids. Filled with color, light, flowers and so much more, this is a fav place to play and eat by far.
Then we love to be outdoors. Since there are little to no parks in town, we get out of town. For something not too far, Terre D’Amanar is wonderful for active kids and adults. You have a gorgeous eco landscape to play in. Situated next to 100,000 hectares of National Forest, you have zip lines, walking trails, wooden jungle gyms, art classes. It is a great way to spend the day.
Call Nourdine in the Palmeriae for Camel Rides & 4×4 Quad rentals: tel: +212 667 12 19 82
And stop at La Pause for lunch or for the day, an incredible desert spot outside of Marrakech
From there, we like to takes hikes in the Atlas Mountains or head south towards Agadir to a dramatic yet quiet, wild beachfront town called Mirleft.
The country of Morocco is an outdoor-centric kind of place and we love having the chance to explore so many diverse landscapes.
EAT in MARRAKECH
Café Flower Power located at the gorgeous pepiniere Casa Botanica (see description above) for fresh air and the freshest food – Route de Sidi Abdellah Ghiat (after Golf Royal), Marrakech +212 524 48 40 87
La Creperie as we loves crepes! And the kids love this little spot and its captain hook menu, small, next to school, great service and a fun parrot to keep everyone entertained. Yummy crepes are served for lunch and desert; you can have homemade apple cider on the side. 14 Petit Marche de Gueliz, Route de Targa. +212 524 43 22 08
La Bled du Grenadine is the perfect place for a chill out day next to the pool. Grenadine is a fun and funky hostess that will totally welcome you as if you’ve know her forever. You can swim the entire day, nap under her palms and then let her serve you the freshest, yummiest lunch, with almost everything coming from her garden. She is one of the best kept kid-friendly secrets in town. Grenadine et Philippe SOUBIELLE +212 61 451 790. E-mail [email protected] Km 5, route de l’Aeroport, Marrakech.
For just the 2 of us, definitely on the rooftop of Riad el Fenn…
SLEEP in MARRAKECH
This is very tough to choose as there are truly amazing places to stay here in Marrakech. I’ve narrowed it down to my favorite top 5, each one unique and offering something very special. I recommend choosing 1 place to stay and then hopping over to the others for their spa, boutique, lunch by the pool or for a candlelit dinner you won’t regret.
Jnane Tamsna – inside the Palmeraie.
Riad el Fenn – in the Medina.
Beldi Country Club – right outside of town
Peacock Pavilions – outside of town
La Pause – outside of town
SHOP in MARRAKECH
In the Medina
1. Lalla – great handbags & accessories, found on the first floor (French 1er étagè) of the restaurant Terrace des Epices inside the Medina. Shop here and the other great boutiques on the same floor and after head up to the terrace for a yummy lunch.
2. Souk des Epices for all your spices (a must to take home) and the classic little handmade leather camels and horses, always a hit!
3. The large flea market in Bab Khamis for crazy vintage finds at great prices
4. Riad el Fenn for gorgeous sequined wedding blankets
Outside the Medina
2. Nectarome on the Route du Ourika for essential oils, argan, great handmade soaps. If the time is right, they will serve you a nice tea and you can request a foot bath. Located on a pretty piece of land with gardens ([email protected])
Tip #1: Bring the right clothes; Morocco is known as a cold country with a hot sun. Middle of the day you might be boiling, but then at night it cools down and you are searching for your sweater. Also, bring or buy light scarves, they are perfect to protect you from the dusty desert wind that kicks up, the sun, the cold and in case you end up somewhere more conservative.
Tip #2: Go with the flow! Marrakech can be a bit chaotic, just embrace and read any books/radio pieces by Tahir Shah – he will get you inspired and laughing at the same time.
Tip #3 – for shoppers, I recommend picking up this book, a perfect walking/shopping guide through the twisting Medina
And some more Reading Recommendations…
You can find Zid Zid Kids in Marrakech in the Industrial Quarter known as Sidi Ghanem (+ 212 524 33 53 07) where they have their showroom and where they recently started a tri-lingual art classes for ages 4-6 & 7-9 (read more on their blog). You can also find them online at www.zidzid.usIn New York, check out ABC Carpet & Home for the largest selection of Zid Zid products.