- Morocco’s cultural capital
- City life
- Eat, pray, barter
Mosques, medina, monuments and mountains – you’d be forgiven for thinking that all Fes’s charms begin with ‘m’.
Spend an hour in the city and you’ll soon see otherwise – the street stalls tempt with aromatic tagines, spice-scattered couscous and toffee-sweet dates, silks and carpets coloured with vivid berry dyes, and leather goods to rival any Italian fashion house. Fez has three micro-cities to get to grips with: Fes el Bali (the ancient, walled city), Fes-Jdid (the Jewish quarter), and the Ville Nouvelle (Fez’s newest, French-created section). Pub-quiz enthusiasts will be pleased to learn that this imperial city also has two record breakers to its name: the world’s oldest university, Al Karaouine (founded in AD 859), and the world’s largest urban car-free area (the Medina). No wonder Unesco's so excited about it.
Running through Fez is the ‘river of treasures’, so called because local women used to wash their clothes while wearing jewellery, unwittingly losing a stream of gems and bangles to the current.
- Rather than seeking out grands or petits taxi, it’s wisest to rely on your riad’s car service – smoother than a mule or donkey ride, and less stressful than trying to hail cabs.
- Packing tips
- Dust-resistant footwear, printed scarves, below the knee-separates for visiting the medersas (Islamic schools).
- Recommended reads
- Dip into something by the award-winning author and poet, Tahar Ben Jelloun, who was honoured with the Prix Ulysse in 2005. Try This Blinding Absence of Light, Leaving Tangier, or The Sand Child.
- Dishes to remember include: traditional Moroccan soup served up at street stalls, tender-meat tagines, breakfast pancakes lavished with yoghurt and dried dates, and fragrant couscous.
- Moroccan Dirham (Dh); euro are also accepted in many places.
- Time zone
- GMT -1.
- Dialling codes
- Country code for Morocco: +212; Fez: (0)5.
- Do go/don't go
- The best time to pack your bags is September–November, and March–July. During these months, you can make the most of the festival calendar and the balmy weather.
Don't go home without...
…getting a henna tattoo – inexpensive, pain-free, and temporary.