Ensemble Artisanal in Marrakech
The Ensemble Artisanal (Handicraft Centre) in Marrakech is a government sponsored complex of artisan workshops established to teach their trade to apprentices and who at the same time also sell their creations direct to the consumer at fixed prices that are deemed reasonable.
The best artisans are selected to work here – inside the complex you will find more or less one artisan representing each specialty you would normally find in the souks. The quality is certainly top notch – when we visited we saw excellent examples of copper and brass crafts, lamps and lanterns, leather products, musical instruments, jewellery and carpets.
The variety of choice for some items is smaller than that found in the main souks, and it also lacks the vibrancy, smell and atmosphere of the souks, but on the plus side, the quality is excellent and prices are fixed at a reasonable price, taking away the hassle and element of awkwardness that many people experience when it comes to haggling over the price of something. The artisans also benefit directly from any sales they make.
Some people like to start off at the Ensemble Artisanal to get an idea of the price of things prior to heading to the souks for some serious haggling. You may manage to pay less in the souks than at the Ensemble Artisanal, but you will work hard to do so!
The Ensemble Artisanal complex includes a simple café serving drinks and a lunch menu of omelettes, tagines and grilled meats. For the artisans the complex even has its own mosque for when the muezzin calls.