Destination Tangier: A Day Trip With Illustrator Myriam Au Citron
Discover the beauty of Tangier and its must-see attractions through the illustrations of this brilliant artist
Ready for a bit of armchair traveling? Join us on a day-trip to Tangier with French-Moroccan illustrator Myriam Au Citron, one of the latest additions to The Nopo family.
Born and bred in Lille, to a French Mother and Moroccan father, Annaëlle Myriam Chaaib, spent glorious childhood summers in Morocco. During these trips, Myriam, as she is called in Morocco, had the chance of experiencing a completely different world, which she consumed with the curious eyes of a child of mixed heritage.
“As a child, I paid great attention to the details because even though I was born in France, I felt like my past and my heritage was stemming from Morocco. Everything was a discovery: people talked differently, there were different brands from France, the smells and colors and climate were all so different in Lille”
Noticing her talent for drawing, her parents took her to art classes, and she continued to study art as part of her higher education. Throughout her degree in Marketing, illustration and branding remained a core part of her work, and after also earning a pastry certification, Myriam finally gave into her childhood dream of going back to Morocco.
In 2018, she and her sister settled on the blue hills of Chefchaouen and opened a stunning little restaurant, which they named Hamsa. Myriam decorated the place with her beautiful illustrations and very soon customers began inquiring who the artist was and whether the art was for sale.
At first, Myriam simply drew inspiration from the colors she saw in Chefchaouen and Tangier: the green of the mountains, the deep blues of the sea, the pastels of the houses. She would go for walks around Tangier, take lots of pictures, and make sketches back home.
Soon however her work started drawing from the childhood memories she had so carefully collected, and she incorporated her own unique narrative into her illustrations. Looking at them you are immediately transported back in time to Myriam’s childhood, roaming the streets of Tangier together with her.
“When I draw I feel like a child with her Playmobile. I like to draw the tiny details, the forks on the table, the brand names in the shops, the wonderful intricacies of everyday life… Each illustration definitely comes with a whole world of characters, names, and situations in my head, and one day I’d love to do a children’s book.”
Read on to find out about Myriam’s favorite, must-see attractions in Tangier, and discover the city’s beauty through her gorgeous illustrations.
An old colonial quarter on a small plateau facing the Kasbah and the ocean, Marshan is the literal embodiment of Tangiers’ international character.
“I’ve lived in Marshan the whole time I’ve been here. It’s amazing how many different points of view you can find. From here I can see the rooftops of the old town, but also the vast openness of the ocean all the way to Spain.”
The architecture is an eclectic mix of Arabic and European influences, with many pastel-colored houses reminding one of the French or Portuguese villages. A short walk will take you down to Tangier Port via the Grand Socco, a large marketplace square with a variety of food and crafts stalls.
For a bit of history take a look at the Phoenician Cemetery on a promontory jutting out to sea, before heading to Cafe Hafa for a cup of excellent Moroccan mint tea on their sunny terrace.
Right next to Marshan as you head down to the port, the ancient town center of Tangier, the Kasbah, awaits with its mesmerizing melange of cultures, religions, and boutique cafes & shops!
“The Kasbah is the more Arabic part of town, and it’s been an inspiration for many famous artists like Matisse. I love walking around the streets and finding scenes I can use as inspiration for my illustrations.”
Besides being the cradle of the Islamic, Jewish, and Christian communities in Tangier, with the Grand Mosque, the Old Synagogue & the Anglican church of St Andrew’s just around the corner from each other, the Kasbah is also perfect to enjoy a nice breakfast of bread, cheese, olives and Moroccan mint tea in one of the many trendy cafes, such as Cafe à l’Anglaise.
The old town walls elegantly slope down to the wide sea promenade, and stone arches offer surprising glimpses of the characteristic white and beige low buildings that make up much of the area.
Illustration by Myriam Au Citron, Photos by @Tangiergram
In Place du 9 Avril, where the Grand Socco market is held, Cinema Rif still stands as one of the emblematic effigies of Tangier’s international past.
Originally opened in 1938, the beautiful art deco building went through a phase of disrepair, until a collective of artists took up the management in 2005. Today, it’s known for its support of independent cinema and for its varied offering of films and programs for young people.
“They show a lot of animation too,” Myriam explains, “something you don’t find often in other cinemas, and the cafe is great to grab a drink and watch life go by at the market and on the square.”
Perdicaris Park and Grottes d’Hercule
Leaving the streets of Tangier behind, Myriam takes us to Rmilat Park, a mere ten-minute drive from the town center.
Sometimes known as Perdicaris Park, from the name of the Greek-American diplomat who used to own it until the 1920s, the 70-hectare park is sandwiched between the azure waters of the sea and the dusty hills just behind it.
It’s a great place for hikes and stunning views of the point where the warm waters of the Mediterranean meet the tumultuous ones of the Atlantic. Looking at the intense blue, aquamarine, and azure shades, it’s easy to see how this would be a place of great inspiration for artists such as Myriam.
For the mythology buffs out there, Myriam suggests continuing onto Cap Spartel and the Hercules Caves, a cave complex to the west of Tangier surrounded by sprawling Atlantic beaches.
Hercules is said to have rested in these caves before attempting the eleventh of the twelve labors King Eurystheus had assigned to him as penance.
Legends aside, let the caves stun you with their Phoenician wall art and beautiful rock formations, or peak at the sunset through the cave’s sea entrance, which is said to be shaped like the outline of Africa.
Myriam’s Favorite Hotels and Restaurants in Tangier
Where to Stay
- La Tangerina, deep in the heart of the Kasbah.
- Dar Nour, with its wonderful terrace overlooking the Kasbah rooftops
Where to eat:
- Côté Sud, right on the Ba Kacem beach, for excellent fish dishes.
- Chiringuito, to enjoy a drink on the beautiful Marina.
- El Tangerino, for a Spanish infused menu enjoyed while looking at Spain in the distance.
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