Fes

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Fez (فاس) (French: "Fès") is a city in Morocco. Fez is also famous for its ancient walled city, which many compare to the walled city of Jerusalem.

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  • Small city 5-20 hotels
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Points of Interest in Fes

Just walking around, you will see a great deal!

Get a shave in the medina, nowhere is it cheaper than here, and they really pay attention, even trimming your hair.

In the midst of the maze-like medina are the colorful leather-dying pits. Any number of young boys will offer to guide you to them: just listen for "you want to see the tanneries?" The tour is free (though it is appropriate to offer 1-5 dirhams to your "guide"). There is no chance of getting to see the tanneries by yourself, instead, be prepared for physical abuse for even trying! However, just 10m left of the entrance is a leather shop that offers views to the tannery free of charge and you can see it all from the balcony. Expect to be pressured into buying goods from the shop in return.

It is possible to get into the tannery itself, hang around near the entrance until someone offers to take you in for 10 dirham. He will get you past the entrance and then you can wander in among the workers. A word of advice...wear closed shoes and maybe bring a mint leaf to sniff if you have a weak stomach.

Bou Inania madersa: a breathtaking 14th-century religious college. The best example of Islamic architecture a non-Muslim can see in Fez, with wooden walls elaborately carved with geometric patterns and Arabic calligraphy, and a beautiful minaret. In the courtyard there is a portico with a still-functioning mosque, separated by the rest of the courtyard by a small moat.

The view from the hills surrounding the old city is spectacular- there are two fortresses overlooking the old city, the Borj Nord which contains an armaments museum, and the Borj Sud, which is being developed for tourism.

The Merenid Tombs next to the Merenid Hotel, provide excellent panoramic views over the medina and the wider city, as well as the olive tree lined hills surrounding the city, and sanctuary from the bustle of the rest of the city. Beware of the odd opportunistic tout.

The Sofitel Palais Jamai terrace has an incredible view over the medina if you are willing to pay 30 dirhams for a glass of tea in order to access it. This is particularly worthwhile if you can time your visit to coincide with the call to prayer, as you can hear multiple minarets from the terrace.

Entrance to the Moulay Idriss II shrine, the tomb of Fez's founder, is limited to Muslims, but the view from just outside its doors is still well-worth hunting down. The mosque is just off the Talaa Kbira near the Souk Attarine.

Similarly, the Qaraouyine library and mosque and the al-Tijani mosque have beautifully decorated exteriors and worth a visit even by those who cannot enter them, which includes all foreigners considered to be non-Muslim.

Medersa Bou-Inania

University of Al-Karaouine

Kairaouine Mosque

Jewish Cemetery

Royal Palace

Nejjarin Fondouk

Parc Jnane Sbile

Blue Gate

Der Batha Museum

Tombs of the Merenides

Bab Ftouh

Borj Nord

Abou Bakr Ibn Arabi Mausoleum

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About Fes

Background

Fez is the medieval capital of Morocco, and a great city of high Islamic civilization. Fez has the best-preserved old city in the Arab world, the sprawling, labyrinthine medina of Fes el-Bali, which is incidentally also the world's largest car-free urban zone. Transports of goods is provided by donkeys, carriages, and motorbikes.

Activities

One of the most fascinating activities to do in Fez is a trip in the medina (Old City). The medina is so complex to navigate that sometimes it's easier to simply lose yourself in the hustle and bustle of the various markets, and find your way out once you have had enough of all the sights, sounds, and smells that will overwhelm your senses. You will eventually find your way out via lots of dried fruit, leather goods, ceramics, textiles and food stalls!

Make sure you find an opportunity to escape from the bustle of the streets and see the medina from one of its rooftops - some shops and restaurants have rooftop terraces (see the food section below for some useful tips). The views are particularly spectacular during sunset and after dark.

  • The Berber pharmacy in the Medina has hundreds of jars of twisted root and twig neatly lined up along the walls. Don't eat the seed-pod like things the proprietor offers you. Although he's eating them also, they are very high in estrogen and can cause a man's nipples to be sore for several days afterwards.
  • Quartier des tanneurs. . The tanneries in the medina features leather-making techniques unchanged since the Middle Ages. Men walk the narrow paths between huge vats of lye and colorful dyes, water wheels creak as the leather is rinsed, and buildings facing the tannery are covered with pelts hanging to dry. Visit early in the morning before the sun hits the tannery and the stench sets in.

There are several well-marked trails through the city: follow the green (Andalusian palaces and gardens), orange (walls and fortifications), or blue signs and you won't get lost in all the narrow twisting streets.

Food

The markets near the 'main' gate of Bab Boujeloud (near to Hotel Cascades) are full of yummy food. It is worth just wandering through them, buying random bits of food. Street food is very cheap and is often safe. Restaurants, even cheap ones, will often be up to twice the cost of street food, and the quality can be the same. In the medina is difficult to find cheap food other than in the Bab Boujeloud area. There are only a very few tourist restaurants where you will get ripped off and some food stalls down in the food market near the R'cif place.

Budget

  • Snack Omar, Rue de la Poste (Batha area, around the corner of the Postoffice,), ☎ +212 535 74 19 23 or +212 6 66 20 22 30. 10AM - 11PM. Simple decoration of the restaurant with a take away counter, but very cosy, clean and great food. A good restaurant for dinner up to 15-20 people or a quick snack in the afternoon. You can get the real traditional Moroccan food like Tajines, Pastilla and Meschwi but also a Pizza or Spagetti if you like. The employees are very friendly and treat you like a welcome guest. The food is delicious and at Moroccan prices. A Tajine for example is 45 MAD! You should really try the Pastilla which is very tasty or the Meschwi (order the last one in advance).
  • Mezzanine, 17, Kasbat Chams (In front of the jnaj sbil garden, less than 50 meters from the place Boujeloud), ☎ +21211078336. Set over three floors, with an additional outside patio, Mezzanine offers both a cosy lounge bar for a quiet cocktail tapas as well as a comfortable larger seating area for dinners and parties.
  • L'Ambre (2001), Riad Fes, 5Derb Ben Slimane Zerbtana, ☎ +212 35 74 12 06. In the heart of a medieval city known for its diverse savory eateries, L'Ambre offers a dining experience that should not be missed when visiting Fez. A delightful selection of Moroccan cuisine with an original twist is served in any of our three dining rooms, in the garden or on the roof terrace.
  • Le Kasbah (near Bab Boujloud). Friendly service, a solid selection of inexpensive Moroccan staples (excellent vegetarian tagine) and a couple of lovely high terraces overlooking the Gate on one side and the medina on the other. It is a comfortable atmospheric place to chat to other travellers and its a welcome haven from the bustle of the crowded streets of the medina. Street food is allowed to eat at the terraces. You pay only the service for the drink.
  • Fez Lounge, ☎ +212535633097. 95, Zkak Rouah- Tala Kbira. Down the Tala Kbira, on a tiny street on your right)or F Lounge; is the new addition to the medina scene. With walls in dark grey tadelakt and an ambiance of an ultra contemporary Arab dream, Fez Lounge is highly recommended for its Mediterranean inspired tapas such as Camembert bruschetta with walnuts and balsamic vinegar or for its reputed warm brownie with chocolate. Traditional Moroccan dishes like Pastilla and tajines are also available. Owned by an Italian, you can feel its style from the design of the tables to the dim lighting or the Hotel Costes Music.
  • Café Medina (near Bab Boujloud). Tasty and cosy café-style restaurant, however it can get too touristy. Food is fine, specially the "boricuas" (deep fried thin dough layers wrapping meat-chicken-rice fillings). Mains starting at 60dh.
  • Restaurant Bouinania (near Bab Boujloud). Enjoy lunch on the terrace or a leisurely dinner on the carpet-adorned second floor. The service is very friendly and more than willing to fire up the grill to make you the first brochettes of the day. Tagine, couscous, and other staples are well-done and offered for around 40 dh, but prices are negotiable down to 25 dh.
  • Cafe Clock (near Bab Boujloud) Magnificently restored house in the old medina turned into a cafe. The people are friendly (and speak English) and the food is excellent. Ask to be seated on the terrace, and listen for the call to prayer coming from several minarets in the area. Bring a camera, especially during the day.
  • Restaurant Typique Marocain Jenno, ☎ 0611073294. 50Dh for salad and main course. Very tasty couscous. The owner speaks very good English and has some very interesting stories to tell. Address 1112 Ouad Zhoun, Fes Medina.
Ville Nouvelle
  • Casa Nostra - For pizza, you can try this Italian restaurant, 1 block from Hasan II and Mohammed V.

Mid-range

  • Le Palais de Fes - Also known as Dar Tazi (Place R'cif). A rooftop restaurant over a carpet shop, Dar Tazi offers Fez's best pastilla and other traditional dishes. The stairs up are steep and narrow and dinner runs about 350dh per person, but the food and view are well worth it.
  • Palais des Merinides (Talaa Kbira). Table d'hote menus with basic Moroccan specialties in a very grand setting. Mediocre quality, but fabulous surroundings.
  • San Remo Fed up with couscous and tajine? Then you could try this Morocco owned Italian restaurant in the new part of town. Just opposite the police station, it offers a lovely Italian deli and numerous pasta and pizza dishes for a decent price.

Splurge

  • Dar Saada Restaurant. Located in the centre of the medina, this restaurant is a favorite of Travel and Leisure magazine and is worth the indulgence.
  • L'Ambre: [www.restaurantfes.com], Located in the heart of the medina, it offers an elegant and superior dining experience in all of Morocco. Serving up Moroccan cuisine with innovative twists, food is served in one of three rooms, including a spectacular terrace.

Drinks

Almost all drinking establishments in Fez are hotel bars. The rest are local bars that women and anyone without a good command of Arabic might be uncomfortable entering. In bars of either type, prostitutes are frequent but mostly ignore western travellers. Fes is a much more traditional town than Casablanca or Marrakesh, and it is technically illegal to drink in public. Purchasing alcohol or seeming intoxicated are sure to draw stern looks from passersby.

  • The Bar at Hotel Batha Place Batha. In the rear of Hotel Batha are two bars - the first is more of a lounge, with comfortbale leather chairs and fireplaces. It is definitely the more stately of the two options. In the rear is a night-club type bar that is mostly empty and rarely open.
  • Restaurant International, The Car Park at Av. Abdellah Chefchawni. This little place is easy to overlook, but the fact that the outer windows are mirrored should be the first indication it won't be at the top of any tourist routes. The crowd here is all local, and foreigners might expect a few stares and side looks. They serve the basic selection of beer, as well as some of the best spaghetti and pizza in town. Three stories, but avoid the middle one - the band is usually blasting bad synthesizer-Arabic music. Also avoid the basement, unless you're looking for prostitutes.
  • The White Souk / Marché Centrale (on Blvd Mohammed V). A good place to find alcohol if you prefer to drink at home. There are two brick-and-mortar liquor stores on either side of the Souk, and many of the vendors inside keep descrete stashes for thirsty foreigners.
  • Mezzanine. Set over three floors, with an additional outside patio,Mezzanine offers both a cosy lounge bar for a quiet cocktail tapas as well as a confortable larger seating area for dinners and parties.

Fully wifi d, Mezzanine transforms from a day time lounge into one of Fez most cosmopolitan dinner, music and venues with it s resident dj. Open from 12 until 02PM non stop. Enjoy a coktail, beer or wine on the terrace. It s really unique

  • L'Alcazar Bar, Riad Fes, 5 Derb Ben Slimane Zerbtana. After a high-energy day in the Medina, L'Alcazar Bar is a comfortable oasis of relaxation and refreshment, the perfect backdrop for a memorable moment with friends and family.

A stylish lounge area where stunning design is combined with a warm atmosphere exuding an oriental yet contemporary feel. The lounge bar and fumoir feature a vast choice of cocktails, malt, cognac, wines but also a selection of cigars.

Shopping

Some may consider Fez to be the handicraft capital of Morocco, but in reality the quality and value of its wares can be hit and miss. Leathergoods, copper and brassware are the bargains to be had, although you may also find good prices on drums and other musical instruments.

As a rough guide, you can expect to pay:

  • Leather satchel: Dh 200 - Dh 400 depending on quality
  • Drums: Dh 30 - Dh 150 depending on size and quality
  • Tagine dish (see picture): 10 Dh - 20 Dh for a full size tagine dish, plus an extra Dh 10 if it's been varnished and / or decorated.

If you're interested in the cobalt-blue ceramic, you might go to the potteries where they make it. It's really cool to see how they model the clay into a tagine in 45 seconds. From Bab el-Ftouh, it's a 5 dirham taxi. Ask the driver to take you to "Les potteries de Fez". There're 2 big "factories", both show you the whole process if you want or you could just see the exhibition (and buy). Bargain really hard, prices seem to be fixed, but they are not at all!

  • Made in M, Talaa Kabira. Unique boutique to find good quality articles as leather, passementerie, design ceramic, parfums, and argan oil.

This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Fez on Wikivoyage.

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