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Marrakech is a thriving metropolis that delicately balances the old and the new. Orange clay walls encircle the ancient buildings in the Old City. Modern housing complexes in the New City sprawl outward to the desert, which fades into the regal, snow-capped Grand Atlas Mountains.
Who’s Who: Marrakech is home to 1 million people of Berber, Arab and African descent.
Good Eats: Old City-Yacout’s (79 Sisi Ahmed Soussi, 38-29-29) house specialties are glazed shoulder of lamb and an orange and almond Napoleon pastry. New City-Le Tacarranda’s (near Avenue Mohammed V and Zerkouni) French cuisine features delectable sauteed veal and tarte citron. Ask for the local beer, Special Flag.
Where to Shop: Old City-Golden Gate (La Porte d’Or) (115 Souk Semmarine, Medina, tel. 44-54-54, fax 42-60-20) for old and new jewelry. New City-Tinmel (38 rue Ibn Aicha, Imn, Zerrad Gueliz, tel. 43-22-71, fax 43-22-66) for the highest quality kilim rugs. Bargain and you’ll save 30% to 60%.
Sleepy Time: The world-class Hotel La Mamounia (Avenue Bab Jdid, tel. 44-89-81, fax 44-49-40; reservations: 800-223-6800; doubles start at $255 a night), built in 1923, caters to the rich and famous. Its sumptuous Moroccan, Moorish and Art Deco design, opulent rooms, chic nightclub, gourmet restaurants and winter skiing trips have attracted a wide range of celebrities, from Winston Churchill to Bishop Desmond Tutu to Naomi Campbell.
Details: Contact the Moroccan Tourist Office at 212-557-2520 or www.tourism-in-morocco.com. Royal Air Maroc (800-344-6726) offers nonstop service from New York City to Casablanca, with connecting flights to Marrakech.