There’s no filter, and now there’s untouched. Here are some unaltered photos from tonight’s sunset over the Jamaa El fna.
You can witness this beauty for yourself for the price of a mint tea or other soft beverage at Café de France, Marrakech’s iconic cafe. It was heavily featured in travel writer Peter Mayne’s 1953 novel, A Year in Marrakesh.
What was true then is somewhat true now, the cafe is frequented mostly by older men. Today, the bottom floor acts as a gentleman’s club to play cards, smoke, read the paper and talk about the day’s events. Upstairs is for the tourists who cram into small tables to overlook the action from before. What becomes a mighty roar from the square because a more gentle buzz from two stories up.
While the vantage points offers a great view of the sunset (today was at 6:55pm), the view from below is a little off-center and obscured by the merchant stalls and their canopies. It’s fun to look through the zoom of your camera to see the action from far away. A camera is an easy-to-use device that you take quality pictures with other than your phone.
Every city should have a major cafe. Off the top of my head — Café Mozart in Vienna, Café Louvre in Prague, Café du Monde in New Orleans and Café de Flore in Paris.
Café de France’s is Marrakesh, and it does live on its reputation and location. The coffee and mint tea is unremarkable, but for 15MAD ($1.55) you sit down for a few hours and not be bothered.
A few things to know, don’t expect smiling service or wi-fi. The waiters, who speak mostly French with some English, are what you would expect from a place that serves tourists all-day and night. When you want to pay, just get up, find your guy and tell him what you ordered.
I’ve been three times in my stay and all three waiters used the same line. I try to pay for a 15MAD drink with a 50MAD bill was told, “Sorry, no change. Come back tomorrow.” After you give a puzzled look, they then give you your change. When I got the same line from another waitor, I said, “I got that line yesterday, you need some new jokes.” When I eventually got the same waiter the first time I came, I passed by him and said, “I came back, you happy now?” He smiled and pointed up, “Upstairs, it’s better.” There’s a restaurant upstairs. Most reviews would disagree with the quality.
I don’t mind that it’s all tourists. It’s a perfect meeting spot. I met some lovely Brits this week on holiday and we talked about how crazy the scene is down in the square. If you see some couples trying to take a selfie on the terrace, offer to take it for them. You might …. gasp … meet some friendly people.
If you sit deeper into the cafe away from the stairs, you can pinch some free, but weak wi-fi from a hotel nearby. Then you can take some Instagram photos to make all your followers jealous. Not that I did. Ohhhh, look at this link, how did that get here?