During the day the Jemaa El Fna is full of orange juice sellers, dancers, acrobats, snake charmers (if you want to avoid them like the plague as I did, it’s easy as you’ll hear the pipes that the men play before you see anything) and sad looking monkeys on chains used for photo opportunities. However at 4pm, the square magically starts to transform before your very eyes as it fills with food stalls ready for another busy evening.
I had always seen photos of an aerial view of the square and after doing some research I found out that the best view of the Jemaa El Fna is from Le Grand Balcon du Cafe Glacier.
I had to laugh at some people’s reviews on Trip Advisor saying that they made you buy a drink before you were allowed out onto the balcony to see the view. Hello?! This is one of the best views in Marrakech so of course the owners want to capitalise on that and buying a soft drink is not going to break the bank is it? Anyway rant over.
As I had read that the balcony can get very busy, we arrived early at 3:30pm to ensure we got a good spot. At this time the cafe was empty and we did not need to buy a drink before entering as it was still quiet and we were shown to what probably was the best table there was as we got a good view of the entire square.
At exactly 4pm, tables and chairs and a myriad of other things began appearing from every direction in the square as the food stalls started being constructed ready for the evening ahead.
This time-lapse video filmed by the D-Man shows the transformation of the square.
As we had such a fantastic view, we decided to order food whilst we were there. We each had a tagine which was freshly cooked, delicious and served with a copious amount of bread and olives. Again they did not rush to serve us our food in order to try and free up what was the table with the best view in the house. And we had still not been presented with a bill at this point.
The cafe had started to get noticeably busier and they were now making people buy a drink before they could enter. Cue most people walking out onto the balcony with a mint tea – the cheapest thing on the menu! Really?!
We wanted another drink so I went to find our waiter to see if he would like us to pay for the drinks and the food now as it was getting so busy. He seemed offended that I asked and said we could pay when we left before handing me another two drinks. They really appreciated and respected us buying food as well as having more than one drink – which is the complete opposite to what most people do.
The cafe was at its busiest just before sunset as everyone was trying to get a good view. There was a couple of guys who started to try and move tables to set their tripods up and block other peoples view but they were quickly stopped and shouted at by the cafe owner.
We paid our bill as we left the cafe and our couple of hours spent sitting and enjoying one of the best views in Marrakech along with dinner and drinks came to a grand total of 190 Dirhams for the both of us – £14! What an absolute bargain and an amazing experience I’ll never forget. I’d recommend it to anyone!