EXPERIENCES IN AND AROUND FEZ
* Guided tours: We have specialist guides available for a half or full day to show you the medina. They will take you to the historic monuments such as the Bouanania and Attarine medersas, the souks, squares and famous tanneries. The Jewish quarter and city ramparts can also be included. Our guides do not take you shopping.
* Artisanal Affairs Tour: spend the morning visiting some of the artisans of Fez, chat to them and learn how they produce their wares in their tiny workshops. This is a hands-on tour that gets rave reviews. Shopping is not allowed on this tour.
* Photography tour: make the most of your stay by learning how best to photograph the medieval architecture and the bustle of the medina. Join internationally-renowned Omar Chennafi for a walk-about practical tour.
* Cooking class: shop for ingredients in the souk, then learn how to cook Moroccan-style, blending spices and producing a superb meal. We also offer a private class in modern Moroccan cuisine that includes tasting two Moroccan wines.
* Fassi Food Tour: join a local for a half-day walk through the medina, visiting three different markets and tasting as you go: spices, argan oil, a wonderful array of honeys and lots of delicious street food.
* Jewish Quarter: Next to the royal palace, the Mellah or old Jewish quarter is just outside the medina. See the different architecture found here and visit the two restored synagogues and the Jewish Cemetery.
* Architectural Insights: A half-day tour with Alaa Saïd, architect and house restorer of note. Unravel the composition and surface of his own house, Dar Seffarine, and then step out into the medina to visit some of the spectacular monuments to discover their architectural magnificence and the historical and social reasons for the decorative interior design. Have a look at the CNN video here to see some of the splendid architecture explained by Alaa, and some of the artisans of Fez.
“Alaa Saïd should be on everyone’s agenda. We learned so much, and he has a keen, sophisticated way of relating traditional Islamic architecture, its roots and where it will go. He showed us his personal riad currently under construction.” Roger & Arnelle Kase, USA
Day trips from Fez into the Middle Atlas Mountains
* Meknes, Volubilis and Moulay Idriss Zerhoun:
Visit these three towns in a full day tour, or split them over a couple of days staying overnight in Meknes or Moulay Idriss Zerhoun. Meknes is an Imperial City with a small medina, impressive architecture and interesting museums. Don’t miss the magnificent stables and granaries on the edge of town, Heri Es Souani.
The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Roman city Volubilis surveys rolling wheatfields, olive groves and vineyards near Meknes. The small museum here has some impressive pieces.
In Moulay Idriss Zerhoun, climb up to the top of the village for fabulous views over this sacred pilgrimage site. At olive harvest time (November-January) there are tastings at the local olive presses. A plate of delicious kefta kebabs on the square is a must.
* Azrou and the Ifrane National Park:
Tuesday is market day in the Amazigh town of Azrou, perfect for exploring the town and its wonderful carpets.
Take a walk in the cedar forests of the Ifrane National Park and look out for Barbary macaques (monkeys). Specialist guides are available for walks into the forest and surrounding mountains. Stay over in hotels in Azrou or Ifrane, in one of the newer rural retreats in the countryside or hike up to the nomads and stay overnight with them.
If you’re serious about buying carpets, handiras (Berber wedding blankets) and cushion covers, we’ll arrange a visit to an expert dealer in Azrou or to the carpet auction in Khenifra.
The small mountain-side village of Ain Leuh is worth visiting for its Wednesday souk and to visit the women’s weaving co-operatives.
* Middle Atlas: Sefrou, Bhalil and Guigou:
Take a day tour to the Middle Atlas town of Sefrou and the small village of Bhalil. Sefrou’s medina with a rich Jewish heritage. Visit several fondouks (caravanserais or old inns) in the medina that now house craftsmen and women.
In nearby Bhalil, explore the village on foot and visit the cave-dwelling population for tea. There is excellent hiking in the region, with a donkey to help with tired children if necessary.
“We especially enjoyed Bhalil. That was one of the complete highlights of all our travels for years.” Watkin & Heller families, January 2019
Remote Guigou, some 90km from Fez and 1500m up in the Middle Atlas has a souk on Sundays, when people come from all over the region to buy and sell their produce. At the sheep souk, farmers check out flocks of sheep, ponder over how virile that large ram will be, and test-drive donkeys. You’ll also see women down from the mountains to sell the carpets and textiles they’ve made. It’s definitely worth a trip to get a glimpse of local life.
* Sidi Harazem:
This oasis just outside Fez has several large swimming pools fed by a spring. The water is an ambient temperature and is not chlorinated as the water is constantly changed naturally. If you’re a fan of brutalist architecture, you’ll love this construction by Zevaco dating from the 1960s.
For a relaxing day round another pool, head to a country retreat near Immouzer al Khandar. There’s wonderful food and stupendous views, as well as classes in cooking and bread-baking. Walking into the hills is an option, too. If you can’t tear yourself away, there are five rooms to stay over.