Worth getting out of bed for...
- Enjoy a bird’s eye view of the maze-like medina from the rooftop of Dar Roumana riad.
- Arts and culture
- Browse the art exhibitions at Le Jardin de Biehn (+212 (0) 66464 7679) at 13 akbat Sbaa, Douh. The art gallery and restaurant champions the work of local artists. For something with more historical clout, visit the Ain Khaïl Mosque, which dates back to the 11th century.
- Something for nothing
- Wander through the medina’s ‘stock exchange’ and watch the daily commerce: women haggling over fabrics in the morning; men trading leather in the afternoon.
- The streets of the medina are lined with stalls and stores selling carpets, fabrics, metal work and leather goods. Pick up rich silks – watch some being made first – from the spinning shops, listen to a carpet dealer explain the craftsmanship behind the loops and swirls of a traditional carpet, and stock up on dried dates and figs for back home. (Prepare to haggle.)
- The dramatic Atlas Mountains are 70km away. Secluded Moroccan villages tucked away amid the peaks provide a stark contrast to the bustle and jostle of the market.
- Perfect picnic
- The Atlas Mountains beckon, so don’t miss the chance to explore them. Get a local involved in your culinary adventure – Fez gastronome Gail Leonard (+212 (0) 65532 4082) organises authentic Moroccan picnics, as well as olive oil pressing and tasting.
- Invest in a copy of Fez from Bab to Bab: Walks in the Medina by Hammad Berrada. The map of the medina will inform your wanderings and there are smaller maps for 11 individual walks. Stroll from Batha Square to Bab Rcif via Rhabt Zbib. The walk takes around two and a half hours; standout sights along the way include Dar Adiyel, a beautiful music conservatory built by an 18th-century noble, and the Medersa Cherratene.
- The riads welcome little Smiths. Encourage your brood’s intellectual ambitions with a peek at the world’s first university and the ancient mosques (only the faithful are allowed inside the latter, though). If they’re of a martial bent, take them to the Borj-Nord Museum (+212 (0)5 645241), housed in a 16th-century fortress and boasting an impressive array of antique arms.
- View your favourite leather handbag or shoes in a new light by taking a trip to one of the tanneries in the medina. Spend an afternoon steaming and soaping in the hammam at the Smith-approved Palais Amani. Peer at the caged birds, gazelle horns, and snakeskins at Achebine souk’s last remaining medicine shop. The souk also has a bird market popular with the locals, and food stands selling grilled meat.
June The Sacred Music Festival (www.fesfestival.com) is an annual musical extravaganza attracts musicians from across the globe. Expect an array of diverse acts spanning Sufi chants, Spanish gypsy songs and Whirling Dervishes. October The medina gets musical again when the Jazz Festival takes over (www.fesjazz.com). In the same month, gorge on local goodies at the Culinary Festival.