Tangier Treasures, Where To Shop!

Camel Caravan Three had very specific goals: discover more old city Communal Ovens, meet basket weavers, photograph ancient communal water fountains and of course, browsing antiquarian shops and track down an exclusive cape boutique in Marrakech! The Tangier days of writers and poets and the Rolling Stones have filled tomes… Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote traveled and luxuriated in the 1950s and 1960s. If you haven’t begun your memoir on The Art of Living, you may want to contemplate a sojourn in Tangier.

Tangier, a city located at the northern tip of Morocco, is a captivating fusion of North African, Spanish, Portuguese, and French influences, making it a true crossroads of cultures with a rich Jewish heritage. Tangier medina, by Medina standards, has been restored and updated, it’s still a maze of shops, but the lack of motorbikes and fewer mules trotting the maze of alleyways make exploring a bit more civilized, still a mesmerizing array of goods, but you won’t feel trampled or run over!

The souk of straw weavers apparently closed after Covid, there was a small, scruffy block of shops opening after my departure, my initial disappointment was abated by our amazing guide, Mohammed. A former schoolteacher of history, we were immediately, Simpatico. Mustapha had resourced the brilliant Mohammed, he expressed my extreme disappointment on the straw weavers and shared my other interests…In Marrakech, just behind the Jenaa El Fna square, pass the snake charmers, spice vendors and street vendors, you will find a courtyard of straw weavers with every type of basket, placemats, bottle covers, a plethora of hand made straw objects. Every Wish must be Rewarded!

A short block of shops in Rue de la Liberte, across from the oldest hotel in Tangier produced delighted smiles. I planned to peek inside this famed historic hotel, and the two shops, owned by brothers, on my list, Galerie Tindouf and Bazar Tindouf were across the street.

Bazar Tindouf is in an ancient building which once housed the oldest Jewish bank in Tangier, black and white marble floors are visible, a maze of room upon rooms upstairs and hidden downstairs, holds many secrets. Galerie Tindoff is piled with Moroccan textiles, rarefied art, china and glassware – prepare to be overwhelmed and dusty by the glorious selection!

Mohammed advised me on the provenance of many paintings and steered me away from any non-Moroccan objects. The Galerie is a bit more organized; the Bazar is exactly as it sounds…think multiple floors, hallways piled with Spanish Art Nouveau tiles, small cavern like rooms crammed with pottery, textiles, silver, leather bags… I now know where the fabulous El Fenn finds their beautiful décor. I could have filled a crate. If you’ve perused Umberto Pasti’s beautiful architectural books on his Moroccan homes, you will be familiar with these decadent objects.

Poor Mustapha waits patiently while I rapturously poke through piles of vintage Berber jewelry and dust off antique silver objects. Besides a wonderful African beaded object – also seen at El Fenn, I uncovered an enormous silver ring with a carnelian intaglio surface of etched Arabic figures. Centuries before longhand, signet rings were the first tool nobility and aristocracy used to seal their names on letters and documents. Mohammed assisted in my bargaining, the well known owner is very knowledgeable and kind!

The venerable, El Minzah Hotel, across the street, is a historic location, once the top hotel in Tangier, was a favorite hotel of many dignitaries, politicians, and Hollywood stars. Its architecture, fountains and orange trees create a charming atmosphere. Pop in for an afternoon mint tea, soak in the sunshine and enjoy clear views of the Gibraltar Strait and the coast of Spain from the garden terrace. A refreshing sit down after treasure hunting! The Bazar owner’s daughter has a contemporary gallery closer to the medina.

Kasbah Collective. Opened in 2021, Kasbah Collective mixes Moroccan crafts and textiles, fashion, and homewares – hip and chic. Kasbah Collective is more than just a concept store and gallery nestled in Tangier’s emerging, vibrant neighborhood. Their statement of purpose: a haven of curated beauty and art, a dynamic space standing proudly at the intersection of Bab el Kasbah and Rue Kacem Geunnoun. Their mission: to champion authentic artistry and conscious consumption, bridging the gap between local artisans.

Boutique Majid. Opened in 1970, the three story, Boutique Majid, is much more than just an antique boutique. It is a rare and informed collection of textiles and jewelry, silk, and glass, be prepared to delve into the deep histories of Tangier and Morocco. Carpets stacked to the ceiling; the treasures can be overwhelming! Owned by the legendary and knowledgeable, Abdelmajid Rais El Fenni, this boutique reflects travelling and exploring with passion.

Las Chicas. Just outside the old Medina walls, the two-story shop named Las Chicas after the two innovative women who opened the first concept store in Tangier. Shop till you drop here and visit the tearoom cafe for a respite! Elegant and colorful lanterns and candles, pillows and blankets, vintage jewelry, brilliant hued kaftans, tassels, and woven leather handbags.

Madini Fragrance. Where else can you find the heavenly scent of orange blossoms, dates, and jasmine oils? Tangier in a bottle of oil, recreate the experience when you are home.  Near the Café de Paris.

Topolina. Just down a narrow passageway from my dining favorite El Morocco Club café, you will find a whitewashed building with a hot pink interior! The owner, French designer Isabelle Topolina, is passionate about color! You’ll find fun fabrics, a collection of vintage fabrics in clothes for men and women. The Tangier outpost consists of three small rooms bursting with exuberant hues and quirky fashions. 

Reading List Tangier An inspired collection to inspire your Journey!

Spirit of Yves Saint Laurent at Villa Mabrouka

New to the Tangier hotel scene, Villa Mabrouka, an Arabic name that translates to the ‘House of Luck’. was transformed by the esteemed British designer Jasper Conran. Once the secluded sanctuary of fashion legends Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé, the former private residence, a 1940’s estate, has twelve rooms. Originally designed by Jacques Grange, it is a unmatched enticement for fashionistas and followers and mere travelers seeking an intimate Villa property within walking distance of the Tangier medina.

Set high above the Bay of Tangier, overlooking the Strait of Gibraltar and the North Atlantic Sea. Petite and private 12 room haven with sweeping views of the sea. Lush gardens with hush-hush niches for reading or snoozing, birdsong, and breezes at no extra charge. Imagine a candlelight dinner in a fetching vine covered stone Gazebo on a cliff with views to die for. The sweet Gazebo, with hand painted interiors, is set above the pool and looking out onto the lawn and gardens, it can accommodate up to 8 people for private dining. Up to 12 people can nosh in the Pavilion D’Été with its open fire and view on to the pool, lawns and garden. Gardens of rare Mediterranean plants were designed by Madison Cox, president of the Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent Foundation. The gardens were reworked with Jasper Conran and Madison Cox. Famed British designer, Jasper Conran, is the ideal host of this fashion legacy property.

Marrakech Suite was once the primary bedroom of the Villa, a large private terrace provides spectacular views out onto the garden and sea below. Rooms and suites are charmingly named after Moroccan cities. Ouarzazate Cottage is a spacious sea view cottage, located in the gardens, with a bedroom, sitting room and an ensuite bathroom. Adjacent to the cottage is a large terrace, complete with a flowing fountain and surrounded by bougainvillea, banana and fragrant citrus trees.

Perfect location, around the corner and down the hill to the nearby bustling Tangier Kasbah and medina, amble around the corner to yummy dining at famed El Morocco Club. Cozy, intimate seating upstairs or try the buzzy piano bar downstairs. Always say yes to the oysters!

I loved wandering the white halls, the cozy salons, linger and look at the objects selected by Saint Laurent. The reception area and the grounds contain many of the original tiles, now beautifully framed and displayed in the main Villa. Highly Recommend for an elegant sanctuary in Tangier, with pools, roof top bar and a lovely restaurant. A large collection of the furnishings are original, you feel the spirit of Saint Laurent hovering in every corner.