Heading to Agadir (اكادير) from south-central Morocco is a beautiful drive through the countryside. One major stop to pass through is Taliouine also known as ‘the city of saffron’. One of Morocco’s biggest and most famous exports, this expensive spice rules this town, and multiple collectives akin to the Argon oil feminist groups can be found throughout the municipality.
Try the saffron tea if you are in the region too! Stronger than the classic Moroccan mint tea, it is divine, but does require more sugar than expected.
Our guide told us that if he did not bring back some saffron for his wife from Taliouine, he would not hear the end of it – so definitely pick some up.
To Agadir from Taliouine, it takes approximately two and a half hours. Enjoy the goats and the argon trees as well as the changing ecology and examples of classic irrigation present as one heads down south.
And, be ready for stark contrast between the desert and the beach. Agadir itself is a bustling, modern city. As a result of a devastating earthquake in 1960, most the city was destroyed, and thousands lost their lives. However after support from the present King at the time, Agadir was restored. Its architecture does not mirror the more traditional building style seen in Marrakech. Thus, the only remaining old Moroccan style buildings are the Oufella Ruins, which overlook the city.
One can easily locate the ruins by the large print Arabic on the side of the mount it resides on. It translates to ‘God, Homeland, King’ in descending order to show the supposed/expected hierarchy for Moroccans.
A tourist destination, they are a perfect lookout for the seeing the entirety of the coastal city with its many sub-sections. Prepare to be accosted by salespeople per usual as well as people asking to take a picture with you for money. Once again, a lot of people assuming I was Chinese to get my attention … Classy.
It is a bit of a schlepp up the large hill, but some do run it to get their cardio in. I recommend either a taxi or having your guide (if you have one) take you up for an easy break from the busy city below.
Agadir itself is quite the tourist hotspot. Featuring an abundance of centres and zoos including a bird garden (free) and crocodile themed eco-park (follow the link ticket prices/hours), it is a lot to take in. Night clubs are also common along the boardwalk and beach, complete with tacky lights and over the top everything else. There is also a Amazigh heritage museum close by too. Its presence is especially apropos, as the majority of Agadir actually speaks Tashelhit, a south-western dialect of Amazigh. Agadir itself means ‘wall’ or ‘fortress’ in the language.
As expected, there is also a renowned souk that one can visit; although, it is extensive. Be prepared to take it slowly or if you are like my mother, just avoid it entirely. Called ‘the Sunday Souk’ or Souk el Had, it is located midway to the beach and is a massive complex of vendors selling everything one could hope for.
One striking feature, or perhaps motif, of the area is how undeniably French it feels. Especially among the tourist population, Agadir is extremely francophone, which has its advantages and honestly, disadvantages. One such negative is that for New Year’s Eve, all the menus featured an exorbitant amount of cream based dishes, which is certainly not my favourite (i.e. lactose-intolerance), but very French. Also, the habit of smoking indoors is common, which can be noxious to some.
Staying at the Riad Ville Blanche (very French), the clientele, to be completely honest, was a unique miss-match of ages, which lets the mind wander about certain details of some couples’ relationships … cough … sugar babies … cough …
No shade, though. The riad is quite luxurious with outdoor and indoor pools as well as larger than life bathrooms en suite. As I have said before, I respect the hustle.
Of course, the main draw for all to Agadir is not the modernity or luxury, but quite obviously, the beach. The coastline of Agadir is rolling and developed, and as temperatures rise to almost debilitating levels in the summer, the beach is the perfect escape. Although, sometimes it is so hot that people can only begin to swim in the evening. Wow!
Luckily, in the winter, temperatures are mild, but generally warm. One will not need anything but a sweater if he or she hails from a colder climate to enjoy the beachside. However, swimming might be out of the question …
In the summertime, surfing and jet-skiing are Agadir’s main pulls. Luckily, seafood can be enjoyed all year ‘round.
As a result of Spanish tourists, paella is a popular dish on most seaside menus; although, it is not exactly Spanish style. One will find tagines of course, but try the branzino, tuna, or also sardines if possible. Despite some lengthy service, the food at Ô Playa is decent; just do not go around closing because it will take forever to get service. Just saying.
For a weekday lunch, Restaurant Le Nil Bleu is the place to go. And, call ahead for them to prepare a couscous for you. Well worth the wait! And, a perfect something to send one off from a marvelous stay in the Maghreb.
Agadir is a good beginning or end to a trip in/to southern Morocco. As a FYI, there is a fully functioning and accessible international airport there, so it is not necessary to drive back to Marrakesh to catch one’s flight. Guess what we booked by accident though? Yes — indeed.
The drive to Marrakesh from Agadir is much faster than one might expect as a result of a major highway that connects the two metropolises. Expect the drive to take approximately three and a half hours, and be at the airport about two hours before take-off. But, plan a little more ahead — for your sake.
And, that is a wrap! I miss Morocco. Despite the racist heckling, the food is warm and filling, and the culture of hospitality is something I could use a bit more of up here in the north of Europe. Also, the mint tea. THE MINT TEA. Simply the best. I still have not travelled to the north of the country though, so there is still plenty to see — so much really. Tangier, Rabat, Casablanca: I barely saw Morocco really. I cannot wait to return sometime soon … Stay tuned and travel often, we have more coming in 2019.