Known as the "Grandmother of Marrakesh," Taroudant is often promoted as an alternative destination to that other former Saadian capital, but these labels are misleading and deny Taroudant its essence. The Taroudant medina walls were built in the 16th century to defend the capital and are almost entirely complete. Today, they encircle a spacious, fully functional Moroccan market town serving a large rural hinterland where tourism plays only a limited role in the local economy. People in Taroudant are less jaded than in more tourist-focused areas and are happy to chat with visitors as they go about their daily business. You're more likely to see an artisan at one of the markets upcycling something for use on a farm than creating a trinket for a tourist.
People, customs, and the Arabic and Tashelhit Berber languages mix in this town of around 60,000 inhabitants. The town's relaxed feel, the easy interaction with locals, inexpensive dining, and a couple of guesthouse gems make Taroudant an ideal base for exploring the Souss Valley and the western High Atlas.