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ERFOUD, like Er Rachidia, is largely a French-built administrative centre, and its desultory frontier-town atmosphere fulfils little of the promise of the Tafilalt. Arriving from Er Rachidia, however, you get a first, powerful sense of proximity to the desert, with frequent sandblasts ripping through the streets, and total darkness in the event of a (not uncommon) electrical blackout. Erfoud once functioned as a launchpad for trips to the dunes at Merzouga, but has been left high and dry with the surfacing of the Rissani–Merzouga road. Now, unless they’re here for the date festival, it tends to be bypassed by travellers who arrive early enough in the day to pick up onward transport.

Manar Marbre

    • On the R702 to Tinghir
    • Daily 8am–6.30pm
    • Free

t 0535 578126

Erfoud’s only point of (minor) interest is the local marble industry, which produces the attractive black marble that adorns every bar top and reception desk in town. Uniquely, the high-quality stone contains hundreds of little fossils – mostly nautilus and cone-shaped orthoceras – which you can see being slowly revealed in 3D at the Manar Marbre just west of town. It takes an hour for hefty-looking saws to cut the huge blocks into workable chunks, which are then carved, and polished up at smaller hand-held machines.

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