The Koutoubia hotel and the Cite Fouque

 

During a Marrakech day tripthe city has so much to offer that it may be hard to decide what you should see and what can wait for another visit. As soon as you touch ground, the ochre city takes you for a spin in its 1001 nights’ universe, with its medina, its souks and its tiny restaurants you will only find by mistake. One may miss out on Gueliz, the “new” neighborhood with its 100 years of history and its Art Deco heritage.

Marrakech Insiders has decided to share with you two of its favorite spots in Gueliz. Trust us, they’re worth it!

Built in the 1930’s, the Koutoubia Hotel, not far from the Palace Cinema, was one of the first hotels of Gueliz and was one of its most luxurious ones as testifies the garage entrance on the sign which still wears its proud sign. Its architecture is a good example of the hybrid style in fashion back then, mixing Arabic architecture and Art nouveau. The hotel never reopened after a fire 20 years ago but/and remains an important piece of the architectural heritage of Gueliz.

 

Marrakech Insiders - The Koutoubia hotel - the Cite Fouque

 

Across from the hotel is the lesser known Cite Fouque, a street so discreet that you could walk by it without seeing it. It is a passage between the rue de Yougoslavie and the rue Mohamed El Beqal; she is in fact the last untouched street of Gueliz to this day.

 

Marrakech Insiders - The Koutoubia hotel - the Cite Fouque

 

A nice little wooden cabin painted green marks its entrance, with a majestic tree which grows right through the cabin. It hosts a shoe maker and locksmith : Rachid. You’ll usually see him doing his best to give an old pair of shoes enough energy to go a few more miles.

Philippe, a man in his 50’s is the figure of Cite Fouque. He tells us in his impeccable French that he moved in Cite Fouque 47 years ago and works in an electricity. Philippe tells us that Mrs Gruyere, the former owner of the entire street (all or part of the street, he’s not sure) was nicknamed Farina because of her exuberant use of makeup and was a frequent customer of the Rex restaurant which has now been replaced by a bank across from the cafe Renaissance. About 20 years ago, she had debts and fell sick; she stopped coming to collect rent and had to sell her own house before passing away. With no family to take over, Cite Fouque is now in a complicated legal situation which is absolutely fin for most of its tenants who hope their little Cite isn’t going to change anytime soon.

 

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Author

Rachel

A few years ago, Rachel, born and raised in Switzerland, discovered by chance the ocher city. But what followed was in no way due to chance. Her curiosity was thoroughly aroused, she strove, in the course of her academic work, to reconstruct the puzzle of the architectural heritage of Gueliz. She went through tons of archives, interviewed the city's living memories and explored its sleepy nooks. Today, Rachel tells her stories on a shiny sidecar and published a book with Editions Sarrazines & Co retracing all her finds on the Gueliz.