Spring is by far the best time to visit Morocco, and that’s March, April and May. The snow has gone except for the highest peaks, the valleys are full of spring flowers and it’s not yet too hot. March sees the first of the orange blossoms appearing on the trees and being sold in the souks. Moroccan women distil the fragrant, waxy white flowers to produce orange flower water. This is used in patisserie, dashed into mint tea and sprinkled over your head and hands in religious ceremonies.
Every home has a still. This could be an old copper still or a modern zinc one. Look around the medina and you’ll see these stills being made during February and March, ready for the orange and rose blossoms.
April and May is the time for roses and again you can see large, round, flat baskets of rose flowers for sale in the medina markets. A handful of either of the fresh flowers will cost little and they will last a few days to perfume your room beautifully. Rose buds and petals can also be bought dried. Rosewater is used in cosmetics and also in cooking. Rose buds are an ingredient of the famous ras al hanoot spice mixture.
There’s a very popular rose festival in May in the small town of El Kelaa M’Gouna on the eastern side of the High Atlas Mountains. The area surrounding the town, known as the Valley of the Roses, produces roses that grow wild in hedgerows. They are not cultivated and only bloom once a year. The flowers are distilled in the fields to make rose otto, or attar of roses, which is a highly prized ingredient in expensive cosmetics and perfumes. It’s very difficult to find this product in Morocco – most of it is sold to the big French perfume companies in Grasse. But you can find rosewater and a myriad pink soaps and creams all over Morocco. The festival itself has an interesting display of wares and an exhibition of huge copper stills. Beyond that, there’s a large market and funfair and the locals have a great time crowning the Rose Queen and enjoying the parade.
AVERAGE TEMPERATURES in degrees Centigrade
Updated August 2018