Following the Footsteps of Delacroix, Matisse and Dali Tours of Morocco 2023.
©Aussies In Morocco Tours™
We are pleased to offer the following 14 day/13 night Art tour in April 2023, and again October 2023, starting in Tangier, going via Fez to Marrakech and finishing in the desert.
Cara will accompany you.
This is neither a lecture tour nor a painting one. Rather, it is a tour that focuses on the sensory and on the experiential.
For April 2023 tour – Bookings close
February 1, 2023.
For October 2023 tour – Bookings close
August 1, 2023
Pricing table at the conclusion of this itinerary, with early-bird payment options.
Please also read our blog posts here, for example about traditional accommodation to have some idea of what you are in for, so that your expectations equate with reality.
NOTE: In 2023 the April tour will partly coincide with Ramadan (from end of March to around April 21). So, minor adjustments may be necessary closer to departure and in Morocco.
Pre-tour you will be sent digital books of the works of Delacroix, Matisse and Dali for you to access during the tour. We recommend you bring an ipad with you on tour, with the books uploaded to it.
The first leg of the tour “Delacroix & Matisse” starts @ Tangiers
Delacroix: Tangier & Asilah
April 10-12 or October 9-11
April 10 – Tangier (Easter Monday) or October 9 (Monday)
Meals: Dinner (D)
Arrive Hotel La Tangerina (or equivalent). We can organise your airport pick-up if required. The hotel website is here. Welcome drinks and dinner in a private home.
April 11: Tangier (Tuesday) or October 10 (Tues)
Meals: Breakfast (B) & Lunch (L)
Half day guided tour of Tangier, looking at sites and scenes akin to what Delacroix and Matisse painted, and eating street food as we go. During this time ask your guide about good places to eat dinner and ask him to point out their building facades to you. Lunch in a private garden or favoured restaurant is provided today. After lunch you will have the following options: go with our guide to a small art museum with an Andalusian garden and then be guided back to our hotel, return to the Kasbah for a free afternoon of wandering and make your own way back to the hotel, or be taken back to the accommodation from lunch. This is also an opportunity to have the one hammam and one argan oil massage (back at the hotel) that is part of the tour fee for each person. The Orientalist school of art, of which Delacroix was a leading proponent, often painted images of hammam scenes. Remember, it is your responsibility to book these appointments at the accommodation. Just let us know when you have done so.
This evening is free. For those wishing to eat out, Le Salon Bleu in the Kasbah is a recommended restaurant for dinner, as is Le Poisson. Or you may choose to dine where your guide recommended earlier in the day.
Punic (otherwise known as Carthaginian or Phoenician) graves just outside the Kasbah of Tangier. It is a place where locals like to socialise, like a park here in Australia and where you can buy roasted chickpea snacks from a local.
April 12: Tangier – Asilah- Tangier (Wednesday) or October 11 (Wed)
Meals: B & D
We know that when Delacroix visited Morocco in 1832 he spent some time exploring the surrounds of Tangier, including villages nearby, and painted scenes from these explorations. Today for us is a full day in the nearby seaside town, Asilah. We will arrange for you to be driven there and back. We will provide you with some suggestions to do there as it is a relaxed, arty seaside town. (We may be able to plot these for you on our GINA-GO safety app. Restaurants and art change all the time but our information for you will be current up to about 2 weeks before you arrive.). No appointed guide in Asilah; just your driver for the day there and back, whom you may not see in-between. If however you would like a lunch in a local home, we could pre-arrange it. However, as it is a seaside place you may wish to pick your lunch venue once you arrive. On return to Tangiers, dinner will be at the hotel or nearby. We will request that seafood be included.
Delacroix & Matisse @ Fez
This is the food capital of Morocco, so we cover more of the meals in this city.
Delacroix & Matisse: Fez – Bhalil or Seffrou – Fez
April 13-15 or October 12-14
April 13: Fez (Thursday) or October 12 (Thur)
Meals: B L & D
We drive to Fez, stopping for a tea at Chefchaouen, the Blue Pearl of Morocco, a look at the roman ruins at Volubilis, lunch at a farm well-known for the quality of its lunches and briefly at the city gate of Meknes which was the backdrop for Delacroix’s painting The Sultan of Morocco. Arrive Fez and stay at the Riad Jardin de Biehns (or equivalent). The website is here. Dinner at the riad is included.
The Gate at Meknes, the capital of Morocco at the time that Delacroix visited.
April 14: Fez (Friday) or October 13 (Fri)
Meals: B & D
Morning tour of the medina, visiting various artisans that we have featured in the facts sheets we made available to you on our website’s Client Resources page. Lunch (not included) will be at the famous Café Clock – a well-known cultural hub of Moroccan music and story-telling that has recently revamped its menu of Moroccan food. It is located near Fez’s famous old water clock, hence the name. Afternoon is free and another opportunity to use your hammam and massage that is part of your tour fee (if you have not already). Alternatively, there is an English artist and long-term resident of the medina whose artistic output reminds us somewhat of Delacroix and whose studio you may be able to visit with a view to potentially purchasing one of his paintings. If you think you could be interested, let Cara know at the earliest opportunity and she will give you more detail and will see what she can arrange. Dinner will be at a restaurant serving traditional Moroccan food with music and dancing and mosaics like a Matisse!
A fishmonger in the Fez Medina. There is always something sombre about Fez.
April 15: Fez – Bhalil or Seffrou – Fez (Saturday) or October 14 (Sat)
Meals – B & D
Drive to either Bhalil the cave village or Seffrou, known also for its artisans, the Jewish mellah and its waterfalls. As we have separate cars, you can probably elect which suits you, provided the numbers work out in terms of car seats. We will canvas with you in more detail the options before we depart, so you know your choices. These will be unguided visits to, in effect, small country towns near Fez. Just wander like the free spirits you are inside. Rendezvous with your driver to return to Fez and later we will leave our riad for dinner at a renowned French restaurant. We will ask the restaurant to give the dinner a touch of Matisse in some way. After all he painted multiple still lifes depicting food and table settings, so perhaps it will be in the table presentation. Let’s see.
Matisse @ Marrakech
April 16-18 or October 15-17
April 16: Marrakech (Sunday) or October 15 (Sun)
Meals: B L & D
Drive to Marrakech. Picnic on the way (provided by our Fez riad). If feasible on the day, we will stop for lunch or at least a glass of tea, at the river community near the Ouzoud waterfalls as it really is such a charming locale on a nice day and would be a welcome break on a long journey. Arrive Riad Houdou (or equivalent) in Marrakech. A quiet dinner at the riad as it will have been a long day.
You will see how the colours of Marrakech influenced Matisse’s decorative palette.
April 17: Marrakech – Ourika – Marrakech (Monday) or October 16 (Mon)
Meals – B & L
To Ourika in the Mountains, 30 minutes outside Marrakech, for a lunch prepared for us by a personal chef in the Garden of the Soul (Anima Gardens) which includes various artworks including sculptures by Auguste Rodin and Pablo Picasso. If you are interested in purchasing a carpet that reminds you of a Matisse, let us know the night before and we can arrange for a visit to a lady with loads of integrity and brains who sells them for local women. Yes, you could buy it from her online too, but that wouldn’t resonate with the same memories would it? Matisse was profoundly influenced by the decorative elements of Morocco especially in his efforts to use colour as pure expression. One only need compare his painting to traditional Moroccan carpets to see this. Otherwise, we can enjoy a glass of Moroccan tea with our feet in the river, and anything else that our mountain guide recommends and that you would like to experience, such as visiting an ochre coloured Berber village, before returning to base in Marrakech. Your evening is your own. There are various excellent restaurants in Marrakech if you want to go out for dinner. Alternatively, a quiet night in, with something cold and light for dinner in your room and a chance to catch up on any personal tasks, might be just the ticket. Whatever you decide to do, please leave the night food markets for tomorrow night, for what we hope to be a really special experience.
Anima (“Soul”) Garden. It is not a big garden but it is charming and full of art.
April 18: Marrakech (Tuesday) or October 17 (Tue)
Meals – B & D
Today a professional guide will take us to the garden and palace at Le Jardin Secret, the Chichaoua Tea Room for a tea and Riad Yima for art work of Hassan Hajjaj. (We have written about him in our blog post “Colours, Naturellement”. Hopefully we will also have time to visit Dar El Bacha, a former palace now art gallery with a highly recommended coffee house, for a light lunch (not included). We will talk about the options with the local guide before confirming what is best to include and the route to take. Afternoon we can take you back to the riad, perhaps for a hammam and massage (probably the last opportunity to do so), or you can continue with the guide to the famous Majorelle Gardens. For our final night in Marrakech we go on a guided food tour of the night markets. With acrobats, snake charmers, musicians, water sellers, storytellers, henna tattoo charlatans, be prepared to have your senses blasted. From high up at one of the cafes facing the square, where once they beheaded people and sold slaves, it looks like the galaxy has come to earth to do its shopping and the sounds are unforgettable.
Dar El Bacha coffee house, that the American singer Josephine Baker used to frequent.
Tour fee per person, for this first leg: $A3,990.00. We assume we are a party of 10-12 (including Cara and possibly a professional photographer) and that most of us are prepared to share our room with another person.
The second leg of our tour: Dali @ the desert
Matisse: Valley of the Roses
April 19 or October 18
April 19: Valley of the Roses (Wednesday) or October 18 (Wed)
Meals: B L & D
For those leaving or joining us here, airport transfers if required. Journey to the Valley of the Roses. We wouldn’t say that any of the artists whose footsteps we are following were particularly well known for painting roses specifically. All painted flowers, in Matisse’s case in vases often adjacent to an open window and often overlooking the sea. However, as we discuss in the blog post “Colours Naturellement”, Matisse seems to have come under the influence of the muted yellows, oranges and greens of the south of Morocco as his art evolved towards use of those colours and away from the bright colours of the Fauvism of his earlier period.
Whilst in the Valley of the Roses we will be staying at one of a thousand ochre coloured Kasbahs that dot the landscape in the south: Kasbah Itran (or equivalent). On the way we will visit Ait Ben Haddou, famous ancient village on a hillside and UNESCO world heritage site. We will have a picnic close by of food prepared for us by Riad Houdou. We will probably buy bottled water along the way so we can use their western restrooms or stop for a tea with the locals.
A typical landscape view as we head south.
Dali @ the Dunes
Dali: Hassilabied (“White Well”)
April 20 & 21 or October 19 & 20
April 20: The Dunes (Thursday) or October 19 (Thur)
Meals: B & D
Arrive at the dunes. Go to Khamlia and the café known as Chez les Artistes for lunch with its strange and fantastic metal creatures reminiscent of Dali’s desert psychoscapes. Quick stop off at a luxury riad to drop bags, freshen up and have a tea, then enjoy a camel ride into the dunes where in the late afternoon camel trains cast shadows like those long-legged elephantine creatures from a surrealistic Dali painting. Stay at a Luxury Camp. Further details to be provided upon request.
*Please also note that as the weather is generally mild In October, it is also the chosen time of desert rallies. Thus during the tour in October we will find ourselves sharing the desert with European rally enthusiasts in a convivial atmosphere. This also means that accommodation in the desert in October needs to be booked earlier rather than later, to secure the best possible for our group.*
Another charming café option at the Dunes. Tasty food here in what is generally a locale for very simple food.
April 21: Hassilabied (Friday) or October 20 (Fri)
Meals: B L & D (only at our accommodation)
Return to the riad. There are a couple of options for today. Firstly you could do a tour of the desert, where you might see abandoned villages, ancient animal engravings, an oasis, lonely graves, stones to show a solitary shepherd the direction of Mecca for praying, gigantic art installations which recall Chirico and drink a tea (perhaps with acacia sap) with the nomads. Lunch will be a BBQ provided by us, in the shade of an acacia tree. OR you can stay at the riad, lounge around the pool, learn how to cook a tagine with the riad cook and have some local ladies do henna tattoos on you for a small fee. For those of us travelling in April this is the last day of Ramadan and locals will not be eating during daylight hours. For those of us travelling in October, you are in luck because as it is a Friday, that is the day families traditionally have couscous after attending prayers at the local mosque. If you want to experience a meal of couscous with a local family in a mud dwelling close by, with a modest gift of money to the family in return, let us know in sufficient time beforehand. If you elect to do this, please dress modestly as respect for the older members of the family. Also conversation is likely to be limited due to language, but the feeling will be hospitable. Dinner (and breakfast the next morning) at the accommodation is covered, or we can take you to another riad close by for dinner (this cost is not included) which has very good reviews for its restaurant (note it is quite new, and we think our accommodation is better managed). In April this evening will be the end of Ramadan and there is likely to be a very festive feel, wherever you choose to dine.
The gigantic art installation (you can see the flights of stairs adjacent to each tower, just to give you some idea of scale) in the desert. It reminds us of a painting by Chirico, especially late in the day when the shadows lengthen.
Note that we will also gauge interest before determining if a stargazing session tonight on the riad rooftop via telescope, together with a recounting of ancient Berber stories associated with the stars, is doable. The boreal sky of the northern hemisphere is very different from the night sky we see in the southern hemisphere, so it is possibly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for many of you. There would be an additional cost for this, payable on the day and minimum numbers would be required. We won’t charge a fee on top; just cover the cost of the star guide.
April 22 or October 21
April 22: Erfoud (Saturday) or October 21 (Sat)
Meals: B & L
Travel to Erfoud. Stop at the Rissani markets on the way to visit the apothecary and see evidence of some its dark past, such as old slave chains that are still there. Arrive at La Rose du Desert (or equivalent) and settle in your bungalow or better quality room before enjoying a welcoming BBQ in their lovely date palm garden. This will in effect be our final meal together. Traditionally the last meal is supposed to be the highlight of the tour. Instead this meal will be a quiet, low key affair as we absorb all that we have experienced and ready ourselves mind and body to conclude this full-on time together and take our next steps in life. In the afternoon we can take those of you who would like to see it, to the fossil museum. It is a simple museum, but the fossils, such as the skull of a sabre-toothed tiger are impressive and Indiana Jones-type fossil hunting is a big deal in this part of Morocco. We may, with a big emphasis on may, be able to arrange for you to go to a local hammam. However we advise you don’t depend on this and recommend that you ensure that you have had your tour-allocated hammam and massage at one of the riads at which we stay, by the time we leave Marrakech. That is not to say that you can’t have another one at your own cost too and local, village hammams are so cheap. However, not everybody’s cup of tea either. Otherwise you can have a quiet afternoon at the hotel, getting ready for the the following day’s departure. If you want dinner you can arrange to have it at the hotel restaurant. It is nice, simple food – just remember to give them enough forewarning to prepare as soon as possible, as we are still on Moroccan time for a short while longer.
At the Rose du Desert hotel with the date palm garden as a backdrop
April 23: Departure (Sunday) or October 22 (Sun)
Airport transfers to Errachidia – approximately one hour’s drive. Our tour ends at Errachidia. However if you are not intending to catch a connecting flight, but rather spend more time in Morocco, even if only overnight in Casablanca for example, let us know and we are happy to help you with the arrangements.
Tour fee per person for this second leg assumes you are sharing a room with one other (due to limits of traditional accommodation): $A2,990.00. Price is based on a party of 10-12 which includes Cara and possibly a professional photographer.
Et voila, the end of an adventure of a lifetime! Or maybe just the first instalment?
For more information about Delacroix, Matisse and Dali in Morocco please look at our blog posts here and here. Please remember that airfares, tips, entrance fees, alcohol are not part of the Tour fees. If we don’t mention something is covered by the tour fee, best to assume that it isn’t. Sometimes for example we refer to a venue for lunch in this itinerary but do not cover the cost of lunch at that venue. You need to check each day of the itinerary to see precisely what meal costs we specify are covered.
Your diary checklist
February 1, 2023:
Bookings close for April tour.
August 1, 2023:
Bookings close for the October tour.
(30% deposit payable to secure booking).
February 1, 2023:
Early bird discount for payment in full of April tour.
March 1, 2023:
Final payment due of April tour.
April 1, 2023:
Payment of $500, for October tour, to secure accommodation in the desert. (Refundable if tour does not proceed but on no other basis).
August 1, 2023:
Early bird discount for payment in full of October tour.
September 1, 2023:
Final payment of October tour.
Note: all prices are shown in Australian dollars.