Archive for the ‘Morocco Travel’ Category

Where to Travel in Morocco Post Covid-19

Monday, July 6th, 2020
Djemaa El Fna Square, Marrakech

Djemaa El Fna Square, Marrakech

Morocco stepped up during the COVID19 pandemic making it a success story and a top destination for travelers seeking a long-needed escape. The country offers fascinating Imperial cities with historic architecture, magnificent gardens, glorious houses of worship, scenic valleys and gorges along with a  vast coastline that stretches across both the Atlantic and Mediterranean sea. Shopping in the souks and bustling markets of Marrakech, trekking across the Erg Chebbi Dunes in the Sahara Desert and windsurfing on the coast of Essaouira are some of the activities you can indulge in on vacation in Morocco post COVID19.

Where to Vacation in Morocco Post COVID19.

Imperial Cities – Tour Morocco’s Imperial Capitols led by a Moroccan guide. Explore majestic mosques, heritage sites, glorious markets, Andalusian gardens, and Romain ruins. Discover the backstreets of Fes on a Souk Tasting Tour. Stroll through ancient medinas. Experience the famous Djemaa el Fna Square at sunset. Take a Kalech ride on the cobblestoned paths of Marrakech. An Imperial City tour is ideal for couples and families who want to delve into Morocco’s history, architecture and hear the ancient stories of the Jewish mellah

Dades Valley Pins, Southern Morocco

Dades Valley Pins, Southern Morocco

Valley’s & Gorges – Morocco’s valleys and vast gorges make up the country’s sprawling landscapes in the south.  The Dades Valley is one of Morocco’s natural wonders and covers 125 km between the Todra Gorge and Ouarzazate. The Dades Valley boasts limestone cliffs with uniquely shaped erosions and superb scenery along the valley’s piste. Touring the Dades Valley you will pass flower-filled fields, fertile agricultural fields, riverbanks, and several fortified ksours.

The Todra Gorge is Morocco’s grand canyon located in the eastern part of the High Atlas Mountains in southern Morocco near the town of Tinghir. Both the Todra River and Dades River have carved out the cliff-sided canyons. Touring the Todra Gorge region guarantees a scenic drive along newly built roads.

Erg Chebbi Dunes, Camel Trekking, Merzouga

Erg Chebbi Dunes, Camel Trekking, Merzouga

Morocco’s Great Desert RegionsMorocco’s great desert regions of Zagora, M’hamid, and Merzouga are vast and wonderous. The desert’s fresh air and open spaces allow for a wide variety of adventure activities ideal for a vacation post COVID19.

Zagora Desert, known for its sunsets and breathtaking valleys, is a commonplace to begin a camel trek. Zagora is also famous for being a base to travel to Timbuktu; on one of Zagora’s streets, is a famous sign stating “52 days to Timbuktu”.

M’hamid Desert was once an important market place for nomadic and trans-Saharan trade. M’hamid has one of the two sand seas in Morocco where you can camel trek. The most easily accessible dunes are those at Erg Lehoudi (Dunes of the Jews) which can be reached by camel or piste with a 4×4.

The Erg Chebbi Dunes at Merzouga are indisputably one of the greatest sights of Morocco. These giant hills of smooth sand line the Algerian border and are a must-see for everyone. Camel trekking at sunrise or an overnight adventure to an oasis in Merzouga is one of the most enchanting and memorable experiences one can have in the Sahara.

Essaouira Port & Ramparts

Essaouira Port & Ramparts

Moroccan Beaches & Coastal Towns – Morocco is sandwiched between the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts, you won’t have trouble finding a beautiful beach for your Morocco vacation while taking in the local seafood fare. If you choose to relax by the tranquil Mediterranean shores, you are in store for unspoiled Moroccan beaches with dramatic scenery of rocky inlets and headlands.

The most popular Atlantic beach resorts for a Moroccan vacation are Essaouira, Sidi Kaouki, Mirleft & Legzira Baech, and Agadir. All have stunning sandy beaches with a plethora of exciting things to see and do.

Essaouira affectionately referred to as “swera” by locals, is a windy city on Morocco’s Northern Atlantic Coast. Essaouira is a top-rated destination for families for its multitude of things to do with kids. Ideal for families honeymooners and Morocco travelers Essaouira’s white and blue washed medina is revered for its charming ramparts, vibrant art galleries, shopping, and seafood gastronomy.

Sidi Kaouki is a Berber coastal town 30 minutes south of Essaouira. The beach in this remote region is unspoiled and strikes a perfect balance with offering an ideal place for kite and windsurfers while staying true to its African roots. Sidi Kaouki is known for its great waves, reefs, and breakpoints.

Mirleft Beach

Mirleft Beach

Merlift & Legzira – Legzira Beach is well-appointed 20 minutes north of Sidi Ifni and lauded as one of the best beaches in the world for sunbathing and surfing. Legzira has been also described by travelers as a real-life painting. The geological rocky beach artfully connects the Anti Atlas Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean. Legzira’s organic cave formations are fascinating and well appreciated by nature enthusiasts.

Exploring Tameslouht’s Moroccan Handicrafts, Weavers and Embroiderers

Thursday, May 14th, 2020
Art-Tissage-Tameslouht-Cooperative-Man-with-Loom-Morocco-Travel-Exploration-Morocco

Art Tissage Tameslouht Cooperative Man with Loom

Morocco is famous for its artisan handicrafts and as you wander the streets of any Moroccan medina (old city), you will see stunning examples of local leatherwork, carpets, tasseled baskets, and blankets, soft furnishings, babouche slippers, carved wood and much, much more.  Moroccan style, textiles, and handicrafts have influenced major design houses and retail fashion outlets for many years, but these items have gained unprecedented popularity more recently – from the glossy pages of interior magazines and the profiles of Instagram influencers to the floors of houses and apartments across the globe.

A trip to Morocco is the ideal opportunity to source your own Moroccan handicrafts. You might want something for your homes, such as a rug or embroidered bedlinen, or something beautiful to wear, such as a bag or kaftan. The choice can, however, be overwhelming and the prospect of haggling for a good price in the souk where shops are packed floor to ceiling with beautiful items can be daunting for even the most enthusiastic shopper!

We have helped many travelers to Morocco with their purchases of gifts, souvenirs, and stunning artisan items. Here, we share our advice and expertise on buying these items directly from the artisans who produce them, with a highlight on weavers in the village of Tameslouht, in the foothills of the High Atlas mountain range.

Moroccan-Handicrafts-Art-Tissage-Tam-Travel-Exploration-Morocco

Moroccan Handicrafts Art Tissage Tam

Buying crafts from the artisans

Moroccan artisan goods make great souvenirs of your vacation that you will enjoy for many years, and there is no shortage of choice in any of Morocco’s medinas (old cities). However, most of the retail outlets in the medina source their wares from a long chain of middlemen, and the only certainty regarding the income for the original artisans is that it is minimal, once everyone has taken their share of the commission. If you are interested in supporting artisans to continue their crafts and pass them down through the generations as has been the practice for hundreds of years, it is best to go to the source. This means getting out of the cities and into the villages where weavers practice their craft.

If your trip takes you to Marrakech or through the High Atlas, you have a perfect opportunity to visit the village of Tameslouht. More accessible than some of the more remote villages further into the mountains, it is around 25km, less than one hour, from Marrakech city center, making it the perfect day trip. Alternatively, it can be a stop-off point on the route to the sights of the High Atlas Mountains such as Lalla Takerkoust lake, the river, and waterfalls of the Ourika Valley or the village of Imlil, gateway to Mount Toubkal. As well as being accessible, Tameslouht is an incredible microcosm of artisan talent and Moroccan craft heritage.

Women-weavers-of-Tameslouht-Travel-Exploration-Morocco

Women Weavers, Tameslouht

The Women weavers of Tameslouht

Creation Tameslouht was founded by Sarah, a US Peace Corps Volunteer, and Mustapha, a local man, in Tameslouht in 2012. In 2013, the women weavers with whom they work formed their own association, Creation Tameslouht. They have received support and training to manage their own affairs and develop as entrepreneur-artisans. Today the association comprises around 60 local women, providing them with support to help them reach a wider market.

The women at Creation Tameslouht produce a range of woven, embroidered, and sewn items for the home, such as blankets, cushions, and other soft furnishings. They also make beautiful items to wear and accessories, such as kaftans, jellabas, scarves, and bags. They also have several connections to other associations and cooperatives of artisans, meaning they are able to offer linens embroidered in the traditional Fassi style from the Middle Atlas, Amazigh (or Berber) rugs from surrounding High Atlas villages and much more. If you can’t visit in person, their goods are for sale on Etsy.

Moroccan-Handicrafts-Cushions-Art-Tissage-Tam-Travel-Exploration-Morocco

Moroccan Handicrafts Cushions Art Tissage Tam

Art Tissage Tam – maintaining tradition and livelihoods

Art Tissage Tam is a cooperative, also in Tameslouht, which trains local men and women weavers and embroiderers in traditional handicrafts. Created in 2009, it exists to preserve the knowledge and traditions while developing them for modern tastes and new markets. Many of the artisans have been practicing their craft from a young age.

At Art Tissage Tam, it possible to see men weaving organic cotton, linen, local wools, and vegetable silk (typically made from the prickly pear cactus) on the narrow looms. The team of around 15 men uses a number of techniques to fabricate items ranging from rugs to fabrics for soft furnishings, bags, and scarves. Handwoven rug styles range from flatweaves (in a tapestry weave style, like a kilim) often made with cotton or a cotton mix to woolen pile rugs such as the famous monochrome Beni Ouirane style to hand-knotted rag rugs, known as Boucharouite.

Women at Art Tissage Tam generally undertake embroidery, sewing, and basket weaving, with tassels and pom-poms being popular adornments to homewares. Together, the women and men of Art Tissage Tam make a range of items that are steeped in the local traditions of many centuries while also being suitable for modern homes and tastes. It is possible to purchase these items at their workshop and store in Tameslouht or via their Etsy store.

The community of artisans

Because of commitments to home and family, it is often difficult for women to commute to work outside of the home. Even for men, the costs and logistics of traveling to work in low-skilled or manual work in the over-crowded cities are often less attractive than the chance to learn or develop a skill in their own village. By working from home or in a cooperative, in a network with other artisans, local people can work in a way that suits their lifestyles while benefitting from the collective support for product design, sales, and marketing. For women, weaving and sewing together help create community and a vital support network. Together as an association or cooperative, artisans are also able to offer a broader selection of products, including through e-commerce. The ability to access markets beyond the local middlemen outside of Morocco is an essential way of honoring the traditions and time which go into producing traditional crafts. Where souk salesman may compete on price and when Moroccan shoppers often seek something functional and mass-produced at a cheap price point, the ability of artisans to convey their pride, expertise, and heritage to people willing to value them is essential for their livelihoods.

Speak to us about how to incorporate a visit to traditional artisans into your itinerary and help preserve and promote these vital elements of Morocco’s traditional heritage.

Fez Travel Guide, Where to Eat, Sleep & Stay

Tuesday, May 5th, 2020

Fez el Bali was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1981. Built during the Idrisid dynasty (789 – 808 AD), the ancient walled city of Fez is one of the oldest in the world. Fez was designed on a slope using historic traditions of Islamic architecture to prevent rainwater from flooding it. The sprawling medina boasts over eight kilometers of city walls and is one of the planet’s largest, urban contiguous free zones. Fez has an estimated population of 200,000. Each living area of Fez affords its inhabitants with a mosque, Koranic school, a fountain, hammam, and a traditional bread oven.

The ancient walled city of Fez is one of the oldest in the world.

Fez el  Bali is referred to as the intellectual and spiritual capital of Fez and Morocco. The city has a rich history which includes being twice the capital of Morocco. When Idris ibn Abdallah acquired Fes in 789, he made it Morocco’s most important city.

Refugees from Cordoba, Spain, and later Kairouan (Tunisia) shaped the look of present-day Fez El Bali. A Tunisian refugee is even credited with building the University of Al Quaraouiyine. Dating back to 859 CE, it is recognized as the world’s oldest university and one of the finest examples of Islamic design.

Fez el Bali is known for its extraordinary Islamic design and architecture. Andalusian gardens and museums, lively souks and markets, two leather tanneries, madrasas, and other spiritual centers.

Our Fez Insider’s Guide Fez Insiders Guide offers travel tips and secrets of the ancient medina.

Bab Boujloud Gate, Fez

Bab Boujloud Gate, Fez

Exploring Fes el Bali’s 10,000 Unnamed Alley’s

Part of exploring Fez el Bali is getting lost in its 10,000 unnamed alleys which lead to new discoveries of the city’s gates, citadels, and landmarks; to relive the history of the city.

Under the rule of the Almoravids, Fez was divided into two cities. Abdallah’s son used the Fes River as a city border, destroyed many buildings in Fes el Bali, eventually moving Morocco’s capital to Marrakech. It stayed this way until 1276 when Fes’ second district, Fes Jdid, was created, reunited Fez, and returned it to its former capital status. There are 13 gates divided between the two medinas. Hammad Berrada is the author of a book published in Morocco in 2004, Fez From Bab to Bab: Walks in the Medina which lays out paths for travelers to discover all 13 gates.

The Blue Gate (Bab Bou Jeloud) is located inside the old part of the Fez Medina and the main entrance to the city. Built in 1913, during the beginning of the French protectorate, it is the first entrance after the Fez El Jdid and served as an extension of the ancient UNESCO certified walls. Bab Bou Jeloud can be recognized from afar with its mesmerizing, blue mosaic zellige tiles and hidden underneath its arch, are green mosaics, a famous Fassie green color of which is revealed upon entering the city of Fez. Bab Bou Jelad’s triple-arched gates lead onto the popular Talaa Kebira, from which many cafes, shops, and prominent architectural buildings can be accessed.

From Bab to Bab

From Bab Bou Jeloud, the Blue Gate, the perimeter of Fez El Bali runs west towards Bab Chorba. The ancient Kasbah wall moves along route 501 – from where the Marinid tombs can be accessed – snakes around Bab Guissa and El Jamai Place, where it turns onto Tour de Fes N road and wraps the Jnane Bou Taa area, past Bab Khouka where it turns southwest into the Quartier des Potiers. Fes el Bali continues along N6, passing the Bab Ftouah region, crossing the Oued El Mehraz then maneuvering into the prestigious Palais Faraj Hotel, then the Batha area, until reaching the Blue Gate again.

Zaouida Moulay Idriss, Fez

Zaouida Moulay Idriss, Fez

Sacred Sites in Fez Not to Miss

Zaouia Moulay Idriss – wedged between Souk Attarine and the Nejjarine Square, the 10th-century Zaouia houses the tomb of Fes’ founding father, Moulay Idriss II (793 – 828). The mausoleum is part of a religious Islamic school that spreads over 2,548 m2. Although the entrance is forbidden to non-muslim visitors, travelers can stop to admire the exquisitely carved cedar wood ceiling. There are seven doors, and the one with women entering into the mosque courtyard houses the tomb of Moulay Idriss.

Marinid Tombs – these tombs date back to the 14th century during the reign of the Marinid dynasty. The hill they sit on is known as al-Qula, or the “Hill of the Marinids” and offers some of the best panoramic views of Fez el Bali.

University Al Qarawiyyin Mosque & University – many Muslim students from Morocco, West Africa, Muslim Central Asia, and even parts of Andalucia Spain attend this University. Founded in 859 by Fatima al-Fihri , the daughter of a Tunisian refugee, the University was introduced into Morocco‘s university system in 1963. Quaraouiyine University focuses its studies on Islam, legal sciences, and classical Arabic. The school attracts visitors from around the world for its extraordinary Islamic architecture. University Al Qarawiyyin is one of the leading spiritual and educational centers of the Muslim world and is considered the oldest continuously operating institution of higher learning.

Mosque and Zaoui Sheikh Ahmad al-Tijani –  an 18th-century mosque and religious school dedicated to Sheikh Ahmad al-Tijani. It sits in the Al Blida neighborhood and is distinguished by its ornamental facades and turquoise colored minaret. Located close to the Al Qarawiyyin Mosque & University, this sacred space contains the tomb of an 18th century Sufi Shaykh, founder of the Tijaniyya order. The Zaouia presents a street facade highly ornamented with carved wood, stucco, and glazed tile.

Madrasa El Bouanania Fes – renovated in the 18th century by Sultan Moulay Slimane who is known for ending piracy on Morocco’s coasts, the madrasa gained the status of a Grand Mosque and educational center. It became one of Morocco’s most important religious centers. In the 20th century, a major restoration combining wood and tile decoration has made it one of the most extraordinary places to see examples of Islamic architecture. It is the only madrasa in Fes with a minaret and one of the few religious places that allow entrance to non-Muslims. Opposite the Madrasa is Dar al Magana, a wall with a hydraulic water clock.

Dar al Magna Clock Tower, Fez

Dar al Magna Clock Tower, Fez

Dar al-Magana – the clock house was built by Marinid Sultan Abu Inan Faris in 1357 to communicate the correct times of prayers to the Muezzin. It has 12 doors behind which are 12 brass bowls. Historically, a door would open on the hour and a metal ball would drop into the brass bowl. Since 2004, the bowls have been removed and the clock has been put under reconstruction by ADER, part of the major Fes Medina renovation initiated by King Mohammed VI.

Al-Attarine Madrasa – The 14th-century al-Attarine Madrasa “ of the perfume makers” is the setting for a historic perfume and spice market. The interior of the madrasa is composed of a courtyard surrounded by the finest examples of traditional Marinid craftsmanship. Visitors are advised to pay attention to the exquisite details on the floors and walls.

The Fes Jewish Mellah and it’s Fortified Gateway

The Jewish Mellah is the name of the Jewish quarters in Fes. They are surrounded by a wall and fortified gateway. Located near the royal residences, this enabled its inhabitants to be protected from the wrath of the Muslim populace. The Fes Mellah was once solely inhabited by Jews. This was the first Mellah in Morocco and originated in 1438. In the early 14th century, it was founded by the Merinids.  In contrast with the young Mellah of Casablanca, the Mellah of Fes is over 650 years old. This picturesque neighborhood adjoins the royal palace, noted for its recently constructed bright brass doors. The Ibn Danan Synagogue is one of the oldest and most intact synagogues in Morocco. This synagogue, located in the heart of the Mellah (Jewish quarter), is a rare survivor of a pivotal time in Moroccan Jewish history.

The Jewish Cemetery of Fes is nearby and contains the tombs of more Jewish saints than any other cemetery in Morocco. One of the more important saints is Solica, who was killed for refusing to convert to Islam.  Just footsteps from Cafe Clock is the former home of Maimonides is located in Fes, a simple trace of ancient Jewish life. Maimonides lived in Fes from 11599-1165,
Art Naji, Fez

Art Naji, Fez

Discover Traditional Crafts of Fes 

Embroidery Cooperative – watch Fassie women utilize mathematical calculations and geometric shapes to create beautiful patterns on fabric. In this area, seventy-nine-year-old Abdelkader Ouazzani is the last brocade master in Fes, Morocco. Brocading is a 13th-century art learned from the Merinid Sultans era. On a private tour, you can watch Ouazzani puppeteer the orchestra of thread.

Pottery Cooperative – Fes is famous for it’s enameled polychrome blue-green ceramics decorated with geometric motifs and floral patterns. This style of pottery was developed in the eleventh century under the Almohad dynasty. The Potter’s Quarter (Ain Nkobi) is located on Sidi Harazem road, near the clay quarries in Ain Nokbi; the area is just outside the medina due to the smoke from the kilns.

TanneriesFes has two tanneries where you can witness the historic tradition of leather dying. Chouara Tannery is the larger more popular tannery and located by the far north end of the Oued Bou Khrareb River. Of the two tanneries, Sidi Moussa is lesser-known, however as it is less visited, offering a more intimate experience. It is advisable to visit either location in the morning to experience the leather process.

Where to Eat in Fez

The Ruined Garden – Robert Johnstone, has created a beautiful garden in the ruin at Riad Idrissy which was once a merchant’s house. Johnstone describes it as “half garden, half allotment.” In it, he grows gardenias, a jacaranda, papyrus, and a mix of edibles that are used in the riad’s kitchen, such as verbena, mint, chilies, sorrel, rosemary, parsley and tomatoes. The Ruined Garden Garden is also a cafe and restaurant that serves local Moroccan cuisine with a modern flair. Specialties include couscous appetizer (seffa),  harira soup, lamb tajine, and chicken bastilla.
Address:5 Derb Idrissy Sidi Ahmed Chaoui Medina 30110، Siaj, Fes Phone: +212-649-191410   

Cafe Clock –   established in 2006 by Mike Richardson with the aim of promoting cross-cultural exchanges and giving back to the local community. Cafe Clock is known for its camel burgers whose purchase yields a 1% donation to select Moroccan charities along with its reasonably priced menu of Moroccan and vegetarian fare. Cafe Clock offers cooking classes and weekly storytelling along with traditional live music. Cafe Clock as three locations, Fez el Bali, the Marrakech Medina and the Blue Pearl, Chefcahouen.
Address: 7 Derb el Magana Phone: +212-5356-37855  

Nur, Fez

Nur, Fez

Nur – named the World’s Best Moroccan Restaurant in 2017, this gastronomic restaurant is located in a small refurbished riad. Nur is Chef Najat Kaanache’s tribute to the proud cultural and agricultural diversity of Morocco. She affectionately refers to her country as “the mouth of Europe”, forged through its unique confluence of colonial cultures. Najat offers innovative flavors of the Middle Atlas through a creative lens. The tasting menu at Nur draws from the rich and flavorful cuisine of the Middle East. The dining room at Nur has a chic contemporary feel, but the design elements actually date back to Byzantine times, simultaneously offering a sanctuary and time capsule. For approximately 2 1/2 hours, and through about 10 creations, Chef Najat invites you to experience a brave new Morocco. Each morning the team sources the best available produce from within the Medina and constructs a largely improvisational menu around the seasonal seafood and offerings from our local, specialty purveyors.  Address: 7 Zkak Rouah, Medina, Fes  Phone: +212-694-277849

Restaurant Riad Nejjarine – Dating back to the 1800s, the Riad serves authentic Moroccan fare where diners eat surrounded by majestic Arab-Andalucian architecture. Their dishes feature the famous Fassie pigeon pastilla, tagines, and prunes with meat. The cuisine is refined offering gastronomic Moroccan tables which have become original Fez benchmarks all over Morocco. Address: 20 Lablida Sagha, Fès Phone: +212 =212-5356-34106

Dar Roumana – Dine in a traditional Moroccan riad framed by lush olive groves and the ancient medina walls. Head Chef Younes Idrissi’s dishes are made using local produce to reflect the seasons of the Fes Medina. Sunset cocktails on the roof terrace are recommended. Address: Rue Roumana Phone: +212-553741737

Riad Fez, Relais Chateaux

Riad Fez, Relais Chateaux

Where to Stay in Fez

Riad Fes  – is a Relais & Châteaux property owned by Moroccan architect and one of the most sought after places to stay in Fes. It is decorated in the traditional style of Fes with the keen combination of Baroque and Moorish design in its four courtyards. The terrace at Riad Fes is lined with Atlas Mountain views. There are a wine bar and an onsite on-site gastronomic restaurant famous for fusing Mediterranean and local flavors. It is conveniently located near the Palais Royal and the Batha Museum and gardens. A stay at Riad Fes will allow you to travel back in time and enjoy the splendor of the lifestyle of Fassi nobility. The garden offers moments of freshness under the shade of orange, lemon and bay trees.

Address: 5 Derb Zerbtana, Fès Phone: +212-5357-41206

Dar Roumana    “ house of the pomegranate,” dates back to the late 1800s when it was built by the Arfaouis, a family of olive merchants. Until it was renovated in 2002 and became Dar Roumana, it was home to livestock. The owner Jen, was the first American to open a riad in Fes. The traditional Fassie home has a terrace with views of the medina and notable architecture with stained. Framed by lush olive groves and the ancient ruins of the medina walls, Dar Roumana invites you to experience the richness and comfort of a traditional Fassi guesthouse. Relax with a book and a glass of Moroccan mint tea on the spacious sun-drenched roof terrace with a spectacular view of the entire medina and Atlas Mountains.  After dinner prepared by their Cordon Bleu chef, retire to the library for a fire-side game of chess or choose a movie from our video and DVD collection. Each of Dar Romana’s suites contains the work of local artisans: original mosaic tile floors, intricately carved plaster, rich cedar ceilings and doors, and hand-crafted furnishings. Address: Rue Roumana Phone: +212-553741737

Dar Roumana, Fez

Dar Roumana, Fez

Le Jardin des Biehn – formerly the house of a Pacha, this luxurious riad was restored by a French family ten years ago. It is set in a peaceful garden with aromatic herbs and surrounded by palm and olive trees. The riad has a cafe and restaurant that overlooks the garden along with a boutique filled with textiles and exotic items from India and the Far East.
Address:13 Akbat Sbaa Douh, Fes Phone: +212-535741036

Palais Amani – Palais Amani is a fourteen bedroomed opulent Riad in Fes provides refined dining and spacious accommodation. With a salon and library, a rooftop bar, extensive terraces, a traditional hammam and spa, impeccable service, and all of this close to the Golden Triangle in the ancient medina in Fez. Traditional Moroccan breakfast is served to guests in the dining room or on the dining terrace overlooking the Riad’s central garden. At lunch and dinner time Palais Amani offer a cosmopolitan a la Carte menu for light or more elaborate meal.
Address: 12 Derb El Miter، Fes Phone +212-5356-33209

Karawan Riad this 17th-century riad is located in the Andalous quarter of the Fez Medina. It is one of the most lavish boutique hotels with an open-air courtyard perfect for cocktails on a starry night. Karawan Riad has seven chic suites decorated with Islamic and Moroccan furniture. Texture, motif, and artifacts makeup, unique hand curated interiors at this one-of-a-kind Fes Riad. It is the ideal place to stay for architecture buffs. All Suites are lavishly decorated with Moroccan and Islamic furniture. The Leelah hammam offers delightful scrubs, with the option of rose or oranger water and a spice bath. Trickling fountains are surrounded by flora and fauna for cozy dinners that of local Fes cuisine offered up by Chef Outhmane. This boutique riad has the amenities of a hotel and design that sings the name of Architectural Digest.
Address:
21 Derb Ourbia Makhfiya، Fes  Phone +212-5356-37878

Each one of Palais Faraj’ suites was designed in compliance with this distinguished art of secret alchemy.

Palais Faraj – Palais Faraj is a boutique hotel with a spectacular panoramic view of the Fes Medina. Designed by the famous architect and interior designer Jean-Baptiste Barian, Palais Faraj boasts stunning Arab Andalusia architecture with magnificent arches, columns and moucharabiehs, carved wood, plaster and brass, stucco laces, marble floors, and sacred geometry wall Zellig tilework. Each one of the 25 suites was designed in compliance with this distinguished art of secret alchemy and then outfitted with the latest luxury facilities. Address: Derb Ziat, Fes Phone +212-5356-35356

Abdelkader Ouazzani Brocade Master, Fez

Abdelkader Ouazzani Brocade Master, Fez

Shopping Secrets of the Fes Medina Reveal Morocco’s Last Brocade Master & the Ancient Art of Comb Making

Abdelkader Ouazzani – Seventy-nine-year-old Abdelkader Ouazzani is the last brocade master in Fes. Brocading is an artistic profession requiring the participation of the entire body; feet glide over the wooden pedals and arms and shoulders are engaged in a manner that looks like a conductor puppeteering an orchestra. Brocading is a process requiring deep concentration, meticulousness, and know-how; the original teachers were from the 13th century Merinid Sultans era. Ouzzani works on a commission basis only for the elite in Morocco. His rare, complex fabrics cost in the range of $500 – $600 per meter to make.

Mohamed Saili – Sadly, the art of comb making is a dying trade and Mr. Saili is one of only few craftsmen still alive. Once seated on the ground, Mr. Saili uses his feet to chisel the tines of the fine combs made from horns to perfection. It’s an absolutely fascinating process to watch and a unique souvenir to take home from your travels to Fes!
 Address: 39 Rue Mechatine

Serghini Poterie –  
Master artisan Moulay Ahmed Serghini is of a big deal on the Moroccan pottery scene – his work has been displayed at 
the British Museum and he has three workshops throughout the Kingdom. Tajines, vases, tableware, and even decorative pieces are all hand-made and using traditional Fasis methods from start to finish. It’s best to stop by the workshop to see the artisans at work before visiting the showroom. The entire process from raw clay to the finished product can be viewed on the property. Ready to ship at a moment’s notice, Serghini makes Fassis creations available worldwide.
Address: 32 Ain Nokbi
Phone: +212-661-63-07-58 or +212-535-76-16-29

Morocco Jewish Heritage Tours, Remarkable Sites to Visit

Tuesday, May 5th, 2020
Iban Danan Synagogue, Fes

Iban Danan Synagogue, Fes

Morocco is steeped in Jewish Heritage and Culture. The country has a remarkable history of Jewish life that sets it apart from other Muslim nations. If you are Jewish and interested in touring Morocco you are guaranteed to discover ancient traditions and old-world customs that have permeated Moroccan Jewish society for centuries. Morocco’s key Jewish Heritage sites are located throughout the country’s Imperial Cities and rural regions. The sheer number of Jewish sites is staggering.

“ Moroccan society is partly built on Jewish culture, a culture deeply rooted in three millennia of history,” André Azoulay, Senior Adviser to King Mohammed VI of Morocco

As a Jewish traveler, you can explore synagogues, cemeteries, holy zaouias, monuments, and historic homes. Morocco’s most remarkable places and historical sites are centered around the Jewish Mellah in Casablanca, Tangier, Fes, Marrakech, and Essaouira. The countryside offers additional fascinating Jewish sites of pilgrimage that are frequented by Israeli’s in particular and Moroccan Jews living abroad. They come to visit holy zaouias of celebrated former Rabbi’s (Saints) who were once honored by their local communities.

Morocco also has an intimate Jewish community with strong ties, connecting with them is part of enriching the travel experience. The largest Jewish community that is thriving today is in Casablanca.  Over 3,000 Casablanca Jews live outside the Mellah in the European city, where they worship in over 30 synagogues, eat in kosher restaurants, entertain themselves in community centers, and attend Jewish schools and social service centers. They worship at Temple Beth El, the largest synagogue and an important community center. There is a smaller, yet lively, Jewish community in Fes and Marrakech. Sharing a traditional Sephardic meal on Shabbat at the Kosher Club in Casablanca, or a Kosher restaurant in Fes or Marrakech will offer a glimpse into Jewish life today.

Each of Morocco’s Jewish quarters (Mellah) is comprised of historic Jewish architecture and monuments. The Mellah is home to synagogues and cemeteries surrounded by local markets and city life. Today the Moroccan Mellah is inhabited primarily by Muslim families who relocated there when Jews migrated to Israel in 1948. The Jews who left Morocco did so in hope of a more prosperous life and to be surrounded by their brethren after World War II.  Jewish sites in Morocco are protected by the Moroccan Kingdom and open daily for visitors.

Miaara Jewish Cemetery, Fes

Miaara Jewish Cemetery, Fes

Morocco Jewish Heritage Tour: Remarkable Places & Sites to Visit:

• Temple Beth- El, Casablanca
• Museum of Moroccan Judaism, Casablanca
• Ibn Danan Synagogue & Jewish Mellah, Fes
• Jewish Cemetery & Tomb of Solica, Fes
• Maimonides Home, Fes
• Jewish Mellah, Cemetery & Lazama Synagogue, Marrakech
• New Jewish Synagogue, Ville Nouvelle Marrakech
• Jewish Mellah, Cemetery & Miaara Cemetery, Marrakech
• Chaim Pinto Synagogue,  Essaouira
• Jewish Mellah, Cemetery & Zaouia’s Sahara Desert Region

Jewish Mellah, Marrakech Spice Market

Jewish Mellah, Marrakech Spice Market

Visiting Morocco offers a rare glimpse into peaceful Jewish-Muslim coexistence.

Jewish culture has been interwoven throughout Morocco for centuries. It is believed that Jews settled in Morocco prior to the destruction of the First Temple Mount. A Morocco Jewish Heritage Tour provides an in-depth exploration of Jewish culture and its vast history from the time of the Philistines to the 21st Century.

Touring Morocco and its historic Jewish Heritage Sites is something every Jew should consider.

Touring Morocco and its historic Jewish Heritage Sites is something every Jew should consider. Morocco’s unique history of Jewry and the co-mingling of Jews with Berbers and Arabs is what makes the country safe to visit and an icon of peace for the entire Muslim world. The climate and culture of Morocco with its keen mix of Jewish, Berber, and Arab traditions, UNESCO Heritage sites and cities, a magnificent coast, Moorish architecture, glorious markets, and food tourism make it an ideal vacation destination.

Should you embark on a private, guided Morocco Jewish Heritage Tour, you can anticipate hearing Stories of the Mellah, learning about Morocco’s Sephardic Jewish traditions, and discovering the hidden jewels of Morocco’s Jewish past.  With the only Jewish Museum in the Islamic world and history of religious tolerance, visiting Morocco offers a rare glimpse into peaceful Jewish-Muslim coexistence.

5 Top Morocco Family Tours

Tuesday, May 5th, 2020
Morocco Family Tour

Morocco Family Tour

A Morocco Family Tour should rank high on your bucket list. Morocco is a family-friendly country that offers a wide range of activities and popular tours that makes for easy family travel with those who have children of varied ages. Morocco’s sandy beaches and blue, jeweled coast stretch for miles across the country. Its mountain ranges in both the High and Middle Atlas are perfect for trekking by foot, exploring by a donkey, or settling down by a stream for a picnic lunch. Morocco’s exotic medinas are a shopper’s paradise of colorful hand-made crafts and cuisine, such as Berber carpets, lanterns, baboosh slippers, textiles, caftan’s, teapots and sweets, all surrounded by stunning gardens and hidden alleys for the entire family to explore. Popular Morocco family tour activities range from hiking, trekking, a hot air balloon ride over the Atlas, sandboarding, quad riding, sand skiing, lunch with a Berber family, and exotic food tours, held in UNESCO Fes and Marrakech’s famous Djemaa El Fna Square at sunset. Families interested in historic activities can visit Morocco’s spectacular Art and Photography museums, Andalusian and Moorish gardens, along with UNESCO Heritage sites, monuments, mosques, and Jewish Heritage Sites. Families traveling to Morocco are guaranteed a safe and enriching experience.

5 Family  Morocco Tours – Popular Vacation Itineraries, for the Best Family Vacation

Family Adventures in Morocco

A 10-Day Family Tour tailor-made to include the vibrant and colorful city of Marrakech,  the High Atlas Mountain region, camel riding, sandboarding, and quad riding in the Sahara Desert, along with visits to the UNESCO Heritage Site, Ait Ben Haddou, and the Atlas Film Studios. This tailor-made family vacation includes stays at traditional Morocco riads and guest houses that are quaint and filled with charm, serve excellent local cuisine, and offer a mix of courtyards, gardens, and some with a rural setting. Families can take a Hot Air Balloon Ride over the Atlas Mountains and sip tea and eat couscous with a Berber family. A family tour to Morocco would not be complete without a Marrakech food tasting tour at sunset in Djemaa el Fna Square. Tasting Moroccan delicacies in the back streets and seeing live snake charmers and monkeys plays into the hands of an exotic Medieval carnival. This 10-Day Morocco family tour is perfect for families who have children that are 9 years or older.

One-Week Morocco Family Tour

A-One week-long family vacation to Morocco for active family travel, designed for those looking for family fun in Marrakech’s medina, visiting bustling souks and market places, majestic palaces along with hiking and zip lining across the Atlas Mountains. The highlight of this family tour is the camel trek in the Sahara Desert across the Erg Chebbi Dunes to an Oasis, music, and dinner Arabian Nights style by the campfire and an overnight in a Bedouin tent. A private henna party and lunch with a Berber family along with zellige tile design pottery making are also part of this Morocco family holiday adventure. This One-Week Morocco family tour is perfect for families who have children ranging from 6 years and are well-traveled.

Sahara Desert Family Safari, Morocco

Sahara Desert Family Safari, Morocco

Sahara Desert Safari Family Tour

Embarking on a 5-Day Sahara Desert Safari from Marrakech is the perfect family tour with those who have a limited amount of time as the result of school and holiday schedules.  This Sahara Desert Safari Private Tour includes stays at stylish and Boutique  Riads and Guest Houses, an overnight in a Luxury Desert Camp, time in the Skoura Palm Groves, Berber Villages, visits of Morocco’s Historic Kasbahs, Camel Trekking in the Erg Chebbi Dunes and the option to Hike in the Dades Valley Region. Perfect for families seeking adventure from Marrakech.

Souks of Morocco  

The Souks and markets are a major feature in Moroccan life and what better way to explore them to the fullest then on a 10-Day Family Adventure. Each of Morocco’s Imperial cities has a special souk quarter. Villages in the countryside also have local souks which are usually held one day each week in an open field or outside the town’s kasbah walls. Large cities like Marrakesh and Fès have labyrinths of individual souks (each filling a street or square that is devoted tone particular craft).  On this Souks of Morocco Family Tour Adventure, you will explore the medinas of Marrakesh, Fès, Chefchaouen, and Ouarzazate. These Moroccan cities are famous for their beautiful souks that sell handicrafts and some of Morocco’s best food delicacies. Our Souks of Morocco Family tour lays the ground for a food tasting in the souks that starts with dates, juices, fresh-baked bread’s, honey’s, olives, and for the adventurous foodie families sheep’s head. The Souks offer up some of the best leatherware, locally made handicrafts, carpets, pottery, wood carvings, and traditional dress (djellabas). The Souks of Morocco Family Tour will provide an insider’s view of where locals shop for fresh meat, vegetables, household goods, and other items that Americans for example, purchase at Wal-Mart or Target. In the countryside, families will visit weekly souks (markets) which will lend to a richer understanding of Morocco’s Berbers and rural culture.

1001 Arabian Nights


A 12 -Day Morocco Family Arabian Nights Tour to Morocco’s Imperial Cities, the Sahara Desert, and the Atlantic Coast. Families seeking a fascinating and adventurous private tour for first-time travelers to Morocco will discover Casablana’s Grand white mosque and basque in the Moroccan sun. This 1001 Arabian Nights tour will off complimentary visits to Coastal Rabat, a medina sunset walk, and a  journey to Fes, one of the oldest medieval cities in the world. Families will venture in a 4×4  across the Middle Atlas Mountain region to the Sahara Desert to see glorious sunsets just before dusk as you camel trek through the Erg Chebbi Dunes, the highest and most golden in Morocco, overnight under the Moroccan stars. An off-road trip is part of this Morocco family adventure where you will discover the old road of the caravans via the 19th-century trade routes, walk through the mazes of beautiful Kasbahs, and take an excursion to the Valley of Roses and the Dades Gorge. This family tour would not be complete without one of the most important off-road trips in the country where you will visit the region of Bouthgrar and enjoy a tea ceremony with Nomads in caves. Your Sahara guide and Berber driver will be your private escort throughout this trip as your family becomes modern-day explorers in the South discovering the vast valley’s palm groves, the medina’s of Marrakech and the Atlantic Coastal town of Essaouira.

8 Places to Go for Casablanca Nightlife

Sunday, December 22nd, 2019

Sky-Bar-28-Kenzi-Morocco-Travel-Blog

Long before Michale Curtiz’s iconic 1942 film, Casablanca became a box office smash, Casablanca, the city served as an important business and commercial center. The Portuguese used the ruins of Anfa to build a military fortress in 1515. The town that grew up around it was called Casa Branca, meaning “white house” in  Portuguese. Today locals refer to the bustling and cosmopolitan port city as Casa.

When the Tangier Med port became crowned the Mediterranean’s largest, Casablanca was even recognized as North Africa’s top entrepot. Beyond its importance as the leading financial capital, Casablanca is also known for its strength in the arts. France and Morocco’s artistic and intellectual circles were primarily privy to this burgeoning community. Renown artists such as Moroccan modern painter Mohamed Melehi- recognized who linked Bauhauism to Islamic art- have long made an impact on the city. Melehi, alongside his innovative “Casablanca School” peers like Farid Belkahia, Mohammed Chabâa, Bert Flint and Toni Maraini influenced post-colonial art during the 1960s in both Casablanca and beyond. The city’s artistic and cultural history created a foundation that continues to attract innovative designers, filmmakers, artists, photographers, and musicians.

Le-Casablanca-Lounge-Morocco-Travel-Blog copy

Casablanca’s trendsetting and liberating ambiance is woven into the fabric of everyday life. Gradually the city has had a ripple effect and eyes around the world are tuning into Casablanca’s art and culture scene. This shift was particularly evident in 2019 when several airports in key cities like Boston, Philadelphia, Beijing, and Miami added direct routes to Casablanca. Now that traveling to Casablanca can be done with ease, the city’s top restaurants, nightlife, shopping venues, artisanal craft markets, the medina and music festivals are in high demand.

Casablanca offers a wide range of dining experiences coupled with live music. Nightlife can be found in elegant restaurants, jazz bars, clubs and upscale hotel settings located around the United Nations Square and on the Corniche. The Corniche is well-appointed near Casablanca’s business district and frequented by the fashionable Ain Diab neighborhood crowd. It is also considered one of the city’s green areas. Casablanca’s most popular French restaurants, nightclubs, cocktail lounges, and bars that boast wrap-around terraces and stunning ocean views are woven into the streets on the corniche.

8 Places to Go for Casablanca Nightlife are Le Petit Rocher, Bodega, Rick’s Cafe, Sky 28, Cabestan, Le Kimmyz, Les Jardin del Opera, and Le Casablanca Bar and Lounge.

 

Le-Petit-Roche-Morocco-Travel-Blog

1. Le Petit Rocher– founded in 1932, the Little Rock House is a renovated waterside bistro cottage that once served as a lighthouse. Its history includes hosting performances of talented musicians during the 80s and 90s. Today the restaurant stands as a cultural institution that has endured several, stylistic makeovers. In spite of this, it has stayed true to its musical roots. Over the past decade, Le Petit Rocher has been reimagined into an elegant and contemporary space with coastal views. In keeping with the past, it is also one of Casablanca’s top choices for an evening of tasty food and lively music. In 2000, Little Rock focused on recreating a menu for the senses. Today it serves fresh seafood, inclusive of seafood platters, paella, and other fresh catch of the day. Le Petit Rocher is an ideal spot where locals and travelers can enjoy cocktails, music and ocean views.

Address:  Small Rock Complex, Boulevard de la Corniche, Casablanca

Telephone: +212-5223-62626

2. Bodega- located near Boulevard Mohammed V Art Deco, in the heart of Casablanca’s Art Deco district, La Bodega is a hybrid tapas bar-restaurant. It is the perfect destination for those interested in listening to everything from salsa to Arabic pop. The restaurant offers a fusion of both  French and Spanish cuisine. La Bodega’s innovative tapa style menu is curated by Chef Jilali and serves up Andalusian and Catalan inspired charcuterie, seafood, and mixed grill. Beyond its savory delights, La Bodega’s wine list is extensive and is especially enjoyed when the restaurant transforms from a rustic and cozy space into a saucy Jazz Club. Every Tuesday night, the club hosts a jazz and blues band with musicians who play music inspired by Paris’ top Jazz venues.

Address: 129 Boulevard Ben Abdellah, Casablanca 20250

Phone: +212-5225-41842

Ricks-Cafe-Jazz-Morocco-Travel-Blog

 

3. Rick’s Cafe- this romantic restaurant and piano bar was inspired by the 1942 film Casablanca made famous by Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. Since it’s 2004 opening, the restaurant has set a high bar for dinner and jazzy evenings in Casablanca. From Tuesday to Sunday, Issam Chabaa plays classic French, Spanish and Brazilian songs on the piano and American favorites like Summertime, The Lady is a Tramp, and Blue Moon. Sundays, in particular, are programmed to host jazz sessions for local and amateur jazz musicians living in Casablanca or passing through. In addition to its superior entertainment, the two-floor romantic eatery is distinguished by its decor. Curved arches, a sculpted rooftop bar, balconies, balustrades, stenciled brass lighting, and an authentic 1930’s piano have thoughtfully been added to transport clients into the ’40s and ’50s. Among the menu items are fresh fish entrees like sole meuniere or richer selections like steak or foie gras and goat cheese salad. Rick’s Cafe was established by the former Kathy Kriger, who was an American diplomat in Morocco. Once a  traditional Moroccan home in the 1930s, Rick’s Cafe is located on the edge of the medina, near the port, facing the Hassan II Mosque.

Address: 248 Boulevard Sour Jdid, Casablanca 20250

Phone: +212-05222-74207

4. Skybar 28- is well-appointed at the top of the five-star 28 stories B-Twin Center, Kenzi Tower Hotel It is considered the top destination for visitors to Casablanca who is in search of cocktails and dinner with a view. The luxurious hotel tower was designed by the internationally renowned architect Ricardo Bofill who thoughtfully opened up the restaurant to profit from the Atlantic Ocean views. The Art deco themed penthouse bar has an intimate lounge setting and subdued lighting. Skybar 28 is the perfect setting for an evening of classy tapas, wine, and live music after a day of exploring Casablanca. For travelers who want to indulge in some light pre-cocktail activities, the Kenzi Tower location is also home to Casablanca’s trendiest shopping district

Address: Kenzi Tower Hotel، Boulevard Mohamed Zerktouni, Casablanca 20100

Phone: +212-5229-78000

5. Cabestan- created in 1927, this trendy, upscale seafood restaurant offers some of the most spectacular views of the Casablanca rocky coast. A favorite of artists, designers, politicians, and businessmen Cabestan is the place to be post-sunset. Designers Sophia Sebti and Yachar Bouhaya created three elegant spaces that have become the choice destination for those who desire an evening of fine bistro cuisine accompanied by music and an exceptional ambiance. In addition to the stunning sea views, Cabestan’s menu, created by Chef Fabien Caboy, is the reason it continues to buzz. Menu favorites include Mediterranean tapa dishes, fresh oysters from Dakhla, and herb-infused linguini and clams pasta. On some nights, top names from Morocco’s electronic music scene can be spotted here.

Address: Phare d’El hank، 90 Boulevard de la Corniche, Casablanca 20000

Phone: : +212 05223-91190

6. Le Kimmyz – is a lively French bistro with a high-quality gastronomy menu and extraordinary wine selection. Depending on the day of the week, the restaurant’s funky decor transforms from being a Parisian style musical brasserie into an upscale sports bar. Regardless of the day you choose to dine, the food and wine always hit the mark and the atmosphere never ceases to entertain.

Address: Rue Najib Mahfoud, Casablanca 20000

Phone: +212 5222-77297

Le-Jardin-De-Opera-Morocco-Travel-Blog

7. Le Jardin del Opera- is a chic brasserie situated across from the Grand Casablanca Theatre. It is defined by Casablancans and travelers to Morocco by its French heritage, culinary menu and inspired “garden opera setting”.  Le Jardin’s concepts are executed by restaurant head Farid Al Achbili and director Joël Boivert. The menu has been set to meet a high standard with its offer of exotic yet simple cuisine. Dining choices are comprised of original recipes that respect fresh ingredients of the season. Le Jardin del Opera’s foie gras with Moroccan white wine pairing is not to be missed. Evenings at this boutique venue are festive with music and ideal for close friends, and romantic tête-à-têtes.

Address: 37, Rue El Houcine Ben Ali, City Park Center

Telephone: +212–5222-67575

Le-Casablanca-Lounge-Morocco-Travel-Blog

8. Le Casablanca Lounge Bar –  is situated inside Le Casablanca Hotel, a luxurious property in the exclusive Anfa neighborhood.  This trendy lounge, Art Deco bar immerses visitors in a world of glamour. It offers a warm and relaxed atmosphere to appreciate a wide range of signature cocktails, aperitifs, wines, and champagnes.

The cocktail bar is staged in a harmonious space of high ceilings, chandeliers, luxurious red and black velvet sofas, marquetry furniture, haute couture beveled mirrors, and accented handmade stucco lace. This timeless and classy ambiance is woven into every detail and space of the hotel. Taste of refinement and elegance can be found at Le Casablanca’s terrace while sipping a glass of champagne. Live music and piano performance are offered,  accompanied by a professional singer.

Address: Le Casablanca Hôtel 19, Moulay Rachid

Telephone: +212 522 649 797

Morocco Jewish Trips, Remarkable Places and Historical Sites

Thursday, September 12th, 2019

Ibn Danan Synagogue, Fes

Morocco is steeped in Jewish Heritage and Culture. The country has a remarkable history of Jewish life that sets it apart from other Muslim nations. If you are Jewish and interested in touring Morocco you are guaranteed to discover ancient traditions and old-world customs that have permeated Moroccan Jewish society for centuries. Morocco’s key Jewish Heritage sites are located throughout the country’s Imperial Cities and rural regions. The sheer number of Jewish sites is staggering.

“ Moroccan society is partly built on Jewish culture, a culture deeply rooted in three millennia of history,” André Azoulay, Senior Adviser to King Mohammed VI of Morocco

As a Jewish traveler, you can explore synagogues, cemeteries, holy zaouias, monuments, and historic homes. Morocco’s most remarkable places and historical sites are centered around the Jewish Mellah in Casablanca, Tangier, Fes, Marrakech, and Essaouira. The countryside offers additional fascinating Jewish sites of pilgrimage that are frequented by Israeli’s in particular and Moroccan Jews living abroad. They come to visit holy zaouias of celebrated former Rabbi’s (Saints) who were once honored by their local communities.

Morocco also has intimate Jewish community with strong ties, connecting with them is part of enriching the travel experience. The largest Jewish community that is thriving today is in Casablanca.  Over 3,000 Casablanca Jews live outside the Mellah in the European city, where they worship in over 30 synagogues, eat in kosher restaurants, entertain themselves in community centers, and attend Jewish schools and social service centers. They worship at Temple Beth El, the largest synagogue and an important community center. There is a smaller, yet lively, Jewish community in Fes and Marrakech. Sharing a traditional Sephardic meal on Shabbat at the Kosher Club in Casablanca, or a Kosher restaurant in Fes or Marrakech will offer a glimpse into Jewish life today.

Each of Morocco’s Jewish quarters (Mellah) are comprised of historic Jewish architecture and monuments. The Mellah is home to synagogues and cemeteries surrounded by local markets and city life. Today the Moroccan Mellah is inhabited primarily by Muslim families who relocated there when Jews migrated to Israel in 1948. The Jews who left Morocco did so in hope of a more prosperous life and to be surrounded by their brethren after World War II.  Jewish sites in Morocco are protected by the Moroccan Kingdom and open daily for visitors.

Ancient Tombs, Miaara Jewish Cemetery, Marrakech

Morocco Jewish Heritage Tour: Remarkable Places & Sites You Will Visit:

• Temple Beth- El, Casablanca
• Museum of Moroccan Judaism, Casablanca
• Ibn Danan Synagogue & Jewish Mellah, Fes
• Jewish Cemetery & Tomb of Solica, Fes
• Maimonides Home, Fes
• Jewish Mellah, Cemetery & Lazama Synagogue, Marrakech
• New Jewish Synagogue, Ville Nouvelle Marrakech
• Jewish Mellah, Cemetery & Miaara Cemetery, Marrakech
• Chaim Pinto Synagogue,  Essaouira
• Jewish Mellah, Cemetery & Zaouia’s Sahara Desert Region

 Visiting Morocco offers a rare glimpse into peaceful Jewish-Muslim coexistence.

Jewish Mellah, Fes Rue des Merinides (Derb El Mellah)

The historic Jewish Mellah in each Imperial City stands with grace next to sultanate palaces; fine jewelers display their wares next to vivacious spice vendors and synagogues lie hidden behind doorways on every street. If you look carefully can find Stars of David etched above doorframes.

Jewish culture has been interwoven throughout Morocco for centuries. It is believed that Jews settled in Morocco prior to the destruction of the first Temple Mount. A Morocco Jewish Heritage Tour provides an in-depth exploration of Jewish culture and its vast history from the time of the Philistines to the 21st Century.

Touring Morocco and its historic Jewish Heritage Sites is something every Jew should consider.

Touring Morocco and its historic Jewish Heritage Sites is something every Jew should consider. Morocco’s unique history of Jewry and the co-mingling of Jews with Berbers and Arabs is what makes the country safe to visit and an icon of peace for the entire Muslim world. The climate and culture of Morocco with its keen mix of Jewish, Berber and Arabe traditions, UNESCO Heritage sites and cities, a magnificent coast, Moorish architecture, glorious markets, and food tourism make it an ideal vacation destination.

Traditional Moroccan Jewish Meal

Should you embark on a private, guided Morocco Jewish Heritage Tour, you can anticipate hearing Stories of the Mellah, learning about Morocco’s Sephardic Jewish traditions and discovering the hidden jewels of Morocco’s Jewish past.  With the only Jewish Museum in the Islamic world and history of religious tolerance, visiting Morocco offers a rare glimpse into peaceful Jewish-Muslim coexistence.

The Ultimate Gluten Free Morocco Guide

Thursday, April 18th, 2019

Gluten Free Bakery, Gourmand, Marrakech

With over nine types of bread gracing Morocco’s kitchen tables and bread serving as the main staple of the Moroccan diet, gluten free travelers may feel overwhelmed. Bread is eaten in every meal whether it is to scoop up a Moroccan tagine, a tangia or vegetable salads. The good news is that Morocco now has many new, gluten-free options of where to eat and shop. Green markets, vegetarian and bio restaurants along with gluten-free pastry bakeries can be found in the trend-setting city of Marrakech and on the Coast of Casablanca and Essaouira. Travelers who are gluten and plan on visiting Morocco can use our trusted Gluten Free Morocco Guide.

How to Dine Gluten Free in Morocco

One way to be certain that you can eat gluten-free in Morocco is to choose a self-catering option for your trip. Travelers can stay in a riad where you have access to a private chef or the kitchen staff to prepare a gluten free meal. The classics such as Moroccan harira soup often along with bastille (pigeon pie) contain wheat flour however riads have chefs who are well trained and can make almost any dish without wheat or gluten.   

Moroccan cuisine that is suitable or travelers on a gluten free diet includes lentil (aâdis) or bean (loubia)hotpots (often found at workers cafes and truck stops), and roasted or grilled meats or fish. The latter is typically served with sautéed vegetables and rice (with meats) or a classic Moroccan salad (diced tomato, onion, and cucumber) with fish.

In the larger Imperial Cities gluten, free travelers will be able to access gluten free bread in French Style bakeries as well as gluten-free staples such as oat flakes (porridge), corn chips, rice crackers and other imported goods that are sold in most large supermarkets. If you are in search of gluten-free grains such as quinoa or buckwheat we recommend a visit to one of the local green markets. Part of the excitement of traveling in Morocco is shopping in the souks, where you will find an abundance of fresh fruits, vegetables, dried fruits, nuts, meats and fish for a fraction of the price in the United States or Europe.

Since Morocco has a long Mediterranean and Atlantic coastline fresh seafood in small cities such as Essaouira, Agadir and Oualidia is available. Many of the smaller restaurants owned and run by chefs tend to be more accommodating to gluten free travelers. In the larger cities such as Marrakech and Casablanca, you will find more international cuisine options such as Asian food with its basis in rice, and crêpes from Brittany made from gluten-free, buckwheat flour.

With the rise of diabetes and weight in Morocco, many people today are choosing to eat gluten-free or reduce bread consumption altogether. Consumer trends in health and wellness are on the rise in Morocco. Gluten free, vegetarian, bio, socially conscious and health-minded shops, bakeries and cafes have burst onto the dining scene offering gluten-free travelers more options than ever before.

Gluten Free in Marrakech: Restaurants, Cafes & Green Markets

Ayaso

Ayaso is a bio store that serves 100% organic farm to table vegetarian cuisine. Their menu includes juices, herbal teas, soups, and gluten-free options. Diners eat surrounded by their African art inspired concept store. This bio store has everything for the gluten-free traveler ranging from a wide array of grains, cereals and snacks. Ayaso also has an open door policy to anyone who would like to host health or community building workshops. Ayaso’s owner, Monika El Baroudi carries and ethos and says, “Ayaso offers a clean menu using simple ingredients because that is what we believe is best for the body and mind. Our aim is to make our food and products accessible to as many people as possible.” Ayaso works with local farms and is highly selective in sourcing ingredients. They are particularly proud of their thyme and argan oil products, which come from Kasbah Demante Cooperative in the Atlas Mountains and Toudarte Cooperative.   Address: 6 Boulevard Mohamed Zerktouni

Gaia Vegetarian Restaurant, Marrakech

 

Gaia

Located in the heart of Art Deco, Gueliz, Gaia is a vegetarian restaurant that serves delightful French and Moroccan inspired cuisine. They offer an assortment of gluten-free and vegan dining options with extensive revitalizing juice and tea menu. Gaia takes great pride in presentation. Their dishes are served on ecological kitchenware and the décor is tastefully donned in eco style. All details are considered when ingredients grace the plates at Gaia. They are currently working on expanding their location to a farm in the nearby outskirts of Marrakech. Address: 100 Rue Mohammed el Beqal

 

Slow Concept Store

Around the corner from the famous Grand Cafe de Le Poste, the Slow Concept Store is an undiscovered gem. The two-story villa hosts six elegantly curated rooms showcasing a collection of beldi crockery, ceramics, and furniture made by local artisans. Downstairs you will find a lovely garden cafe offering vegetarian and gluten-free options. Address:76 Boulevard el Mansour Eddahbi

Earth Cafe

Located inside an old riad in the Medina, Earth cafe was the first vegan, vegetarian, and organic cafe to open in Morocco. The seasonal ingredients on the rotating menu all come from the restaurant’s personal farm in the Haouz Valley, near the Atlas Mountains. Cafe-goers generally rave about how simple yet innovative the menu is; Earth Cafe’s chef is Mr. Barakut Naim who incorporates into the menu his years working as a chef in Australia and South East Asia. The space is very cozy and charming.   Address:ue Riad Zitoun el Kdim

Green Village Bio Shop

Recently opened in January 2019, Green Village bio market is the new kid on the block in Marrakech’s Gueliz neighborhood. Green Village has two other successful locations, one in Casablanca and the other in Rabat. All three bio markets sell farm, fresh vegetables, meat, cheeses, and gluten-free foods. They also have a well-stocked assortment of grains, teas, and nutritional supplements and skincare products. Address: 13, Capitaine Arrigui, Gueliz

Bazar Gourmand

Bazar Gourmand is a gourmet food store located in the heart of Guéliz, Bazar Gourmand offers a wide selection of products for gourmets. Gourmand was designed to cater to locals. It offers a variety of cheeses, cold meats, fresh pasta, soups, sauces, salads, sandwiches. The delicatessen has homemade jams, organic chocolates, pastries, spices, honey, olive oils, and gluten-free couscous. Bazar Gourmand offers a rotating menu and has a full pastry bakery corner with organic and gluten-free products along with a dining area to taste the good dishes of Chef Antoine!  The bakery and cafe serve seasonal items. All the breads are made on the premise. “Our eggs and produce both come from local farms in Marrakech”, says Yann, Bazar’s manager. Gluten conscious travelers will also be happy to hear their chocolate chip cookies, fanciers, brownies, and some bread loaves are gluten-free. They also sell duck breast, foie gras, smoked salmon, local honey and argan oil, homemade pesto, and blends of fresh herbal and lemon detox juices.Bazar Gourmand’s décor is a keen mix of both traditional and contemporary architecture. Diners can enjoy the café’s Art Deco-inspired sea green and African yellow colored sofas while sipping tea from their fully stocked Tchaba tea bar or on their patio.   Address:24 rue Moulay Ali

Pharmacie l’Unité

Situated footsteps near the main flower market in Gueliz, Pharmacy L’Unite is the leading homeopathic pharmacy in the city and region. Although slightly on the pricey side, they are boutique and a very reliable source for high-quality homeopathic medicine and hard-to-find superfoods, skincare products and therapeutic grade essential oils. The owner, Dr. Raj offers homeopathic consultations. Book in advance. Address:Avenue Hassan II

Marrakech Organics

Located in the lush Ourika Valley in the outskirts of Marrakech, this organic farm is host to an ecological training center as well as permaculture and sustainability workshops. The owner Omar Hajji and his wife Kenza Isnasni run the farm and supply their produce to many of the biological shops in Marrakech. You can visit the farm in person to purchase some of their high-quality products like cold pressed extra virgin olive oil, black olives, organic fruits and vegetables, and medicinal plants.   Address: Route de l’Ourika, Km 25

Farmer’s Market

There are multiple farmer’s markets happening during different days of the week in and around Marrakech. On early Tuesday mornings, you will find some organic farmer’s stands in front of Gueliz’s Trattoria and on Saturdays both Terre d Eveil in Targa and the Bio Farm in Mokhtar along route de Amzmiz.  

Holistic Center Terre de Eveil

This holistic center, located 6 kilometers outside of Marrakech is dedicated to all things involving healthy and well-being. Terre de Eveil has a tearoom, a bookstore and menu includes a juice bar and a vegetarian, raw, and sprouted health food corner. Throughout the week you can also enjoy workshops, conferences, meditations, and other mind holistic activities.

Triskala Vegetarian Restaurant, Essaouira

Gluten Free in Essaouira: Restaurants, Cafes & Green Markets

Triskala Café Restaurant

Located footsteps from the Essaouira seawall in the historic medina, Triskala is a cozy cafe serving a 100% natural and organic menu. This cozy restaurant is perfect for vegetarians and pescatarians alike. In the mornings, homemade fresh fruit juices are available to start the day and in the evenings, dinner near a warm fireplace accompanied by jazz music soundtracks in the background.  Address:58 Rue Touahen  

La Fromagerie

For travelers who like to go off the beaten track and enjoy the feeling of French countryside, La Fromagerie is the perfect spot for Sunday brunch or an afternoon lunch soiree with friends.

Set in a charming, beldi style garden surrounded by flowers, outdoor picnic tables, and camels used for cheese making, La Frommagerie is an ideal place to get away for some self-indulgence. Either come alone with a good book, enjoy a glass of wine and a cheese board with 5 types of goat, camel and other exotic cheeses. The three-course menu at La Frommagerie is inclusive of a salad, tagine, méchoui, and cheese.  Address:  Douar Larabe Costal Road to Safi

Little Breizh

Little Breizh is a Brittany inspired creperie located in the Ville nouvelle (new town) of Essaouria. It is co-owned by a husband and wife team whose story began in Paris and took them back to Morocco. All ingredients are carefully selected, gluten-free and many are organic. The menu offers an extensive range of savory and sweet buckwheat crepes that could easily rival any of the best creperies in France. Breizinis also great spot to enjoy a high-quality burger or a delicious smoothie. Address: 260 Boulevard du 11 Janvier

Yoo Healthy Food Juice Bar 

Yoo is a charming little cafe that has a sleek and clean atmosphere and serves your health in a glass or on a platter. It was the first restaurant in Essaouria to offer fresh, natural, vegetarian, and gluten-free options. Their menu is famous for its fresh, local, and organic ingredients, which they use in their colorful veggie juices, smoothies, healthy salads, paninis, frozen yogurts, and breakfast dishes. The owners are French and friendly and most people who visit once usually return for more!  Address: 8A Rue Ibn Roch, Essaouira 44000, Morocco

Lalla Abouch Arganic Farm

Located in the countryside of Essaouira Lalla Abouch Arganic Farm hosts a beautiful garden filled with a variety of herbs, vegetables, and grains used in their couscous and homemade bread. All ingredients are sourced from neighboring villages and local cooperatives. All the foods you will taste at the farm are organic with plenty of gluten-free options.Lalla Abouch Arganic Farm is also the ideal place to learn about the manual extracting process of Argan oil and how to shop for only the purest quality. Address: 1 Douar Ait Ahmed

Bbio Organic Farm, Essaouira

Bbio Organic Farm

Bbio Organic Farm is an organic farm where you can shop for homemade organic seasonal veggies, fruits and eggs along with free range, beldi corn-fed chicken. Also on offer is the local catch of the day, argan oil and honey. The owner, Khaled has a special option of a Berber style picnic basket which includes everything you need for a Moroccan Berber brunch. “ All the work is done by hand. No chemical fertilizers and pesticides are used; only manure, algae, and other natural and local products, says Khaled  Address: Rue Ibn Khaldoun Essaouira

Sunday Farmers Market, The Souk of Had Draa  

The Sunday Farmer’s market at Had Draa is the largest in the Essaouira region. Anticipate having an insider, one-of-a-kind experience meeting local traders, butchers and livestock farmers from the surrounding countryside and region. They come to sell their produce in the small stalls. A range of food and local products are offered such as Berber home-baked bread, argan oils, cheese, camel meat, teas, kitchenware, and other artisan products.

Pharmacie Mellah Kdim

Located adjacent to the market within the medina, Mellah Kdim Pharmacie is one of the best in Morocco. The pharmacists are knowledgeable in homeopathic medicine and can recommend one of the store’s whole food supplements to match your needs. They also stock a great supply of therapeutic grade essential oils. Other products of interest here are the local honey and organic cosmetic and skincare products.
Address: 122 avenue sidi Mohammed ben abdellah

Tamouziga Organic Shop medina

Right in the center of the Ben Youssef and La Kasbah medina mosques is the Tamouziga Organic Shop. This boutique specializes in argan oil and other natural products like  homemade jams, honey,  gourmet soaps, natural perfumes, and aromatherapy.  Address: 12 Rue Attarine

Organic Kitchen Restaurant, Casablanca

Gluten Free in Casablanca: Restaurants, Cafes & Green Markets

Veggie

A bio and natural fast food chain highly recommended by travelers for the best falafels in Morocco. Veggie is a vegetarian cafe offering a relaxing and celiac friendly place that offers a short break from the medina. All ingredients in the salads, fresh juices, and veggie burgers are rigorously selected and come from local farms in the region.  Address: 2 Rue Theophile

Organic Kitchen

Organic Kitchen is a beautiful bio café with a Mediterranean Moroccan fusion kitchen. Quickly the location has turned into a hotspot for those who are gluten free conscious.  All ingredients come from organic or sustainable farming. They select their preferred suppliers and cook their vegan and gluten-free dishes with respect and love.  Address: 6-8 Rue Ahmed El Mokri

Lily’s

Voted best new Asian restaurant in 2005 by Food and Wine Magazine, Lily’s with its three large interior spaces and harmonious zen influences is thought of as a scenography where architecture and landscape mix. The Vietnamese and Asian fusion menu offers delicious gluten-free options such as Vietnamese spring rolls, dim sum, fish, and edamame. Lunch is accompanied by some of the best ocean views that are sought after in the city of Casablanca. Address: 92, boulevard de la Corniche – El Hank lighthouse

Grand Marché Bio Green Village Triangle d’Or

Green Village is one of the largest markets for food in Morocco. It is a small chain with sister stores in both Rabat and Marrakech. Green Village carries gluten-free products, farm fresh items, and other local goods. Guaranteed to always be well stocked their wide range of produce and goods are nothing less than impressive. Address: Boulevard Aïn Taoujtate

Bioshop Casablanca

Bioshop Casablanca, is just around the corner from Villa des Arts. IT is one of the best-stocked bio shops in Morocco. They sell top quality spices, teas, farm fresh yogurts, gluten-free snacks, and local products from Casablanca’s farms, Bioshop is a clean, sleek, and popular organic market gem.   Address:4, rue Aknoul (Derrière Lycée Lyautey)

Epicerie Verte Casablanca, Market

Epicerie Verte

Located near the port of Casablanca is Epicerie Verte. This grocery green marketplace is the perfect place to shop for gluten-free snacks and other organic products. They specialize in teas, coffees, drinks, pickled veggies, superfoods, supplements, and skincare products for face and hair. Their marketplace model and products are focused on sustainable development.  Address: Casa Marina Business Center, Tour Crystal 1, 10ème étage.

9 Morocco Family Vacation Ideas

Thursday, April 18th, 2019

Ait Benhaddou Ksar, Ouarzazate

Morocco is the ideal destination for a summer vacation if you are searching for a one-of-a-kind travel experience for the entire family. If you are the household trip planner, then you have the option of embarking on a Morocco Family Tour  tailor-made to include exploration of various cities and region of the country along with family-friendly activities or to attempt a self-guided option by 4×4 on your own.

Morocco’s location at the northernmost point of Africa makes it an easy introduction into the African continent and its diverse climate allows travelers options to experience a range of activities year-round. It is possible to ski and head to the beach all in the same day. Our Summertime Travel Guide introduces 9 of the Best Vacation Ideas for Families.

Morocco has sixteen regions and is divided into sixty provinces. Each destination offers to inspire family-friendly touring activities ranging from food and market tours to cooking classes, handicraft design, hiking, trekking, camel trekking, quad riding, sand skiing, and a hot air balloon ride over the High Atlas. Morocco’s sandy beaches, blue jeweled coast, desert dunes, mountain ranges, and historic cities provide families traveling to Morocco an enriching experience.

Sahara Desert, Erg Chebbi Dunes, Merzouga

The 9 Best Morocco Family Vacation Ideas Perfect for Summer Travel

1. Sahara Desert Family Adventure

The Sahara Desert offers families an unforgettable outdoor adventure. Families who would like to visit the Sahara Desert are advised to start their journey from Marrakech and allow for a minimum of a 4-day timeframe. The ideal family road trip to the Sahara starting and ending in the city of Marrakech will allow for travel down south via the Tizi n’Tichkapassing the geologic region of the Ounila Valley.

The route to Morocco’s desert region is one of the most arresting with its panoramic views of the High Atlas, Berber villages and fertile valleys. A cinematographer’s dream, the earth-toned, rust-colored pise villages dot the landscape and create shadowlike images in the High Atlas. Families interested in sightseeing en route to the Sahara desert should not miss out on a visit to Ait Benhaddou, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Ait Benhaddou is coveted by film directors around the world. Exploring the Ksar of Ait Benhaddou, the Pacha Glaoui’s Kasbah of Telouet, and the Skoura palmeraie is part of a once in a lifetime family adventure to Morocco’s south. Also recommended for kids and film buffs are the CLA Studio and Cinema museum where sets from various movies such as Kundun and the Last Temptation of Christ are kept.

During your Sahara Desert Family Adventure, you will also pass through the Draa Valley, the Todra Gorge and make a local stop to have lunch with a Berber family. For family’s who are interested in intensive hiking and magnificent scenery extending your trip to 5 days and carving out time to visit the Dades Valley and Gorge is highly recommended.  A Just before you reach the Sahara there’s also the opportunity to visit the town of Rissani and learn how their local Berber pizza, called Madfouna is made. A final pitstop for tea at Khemlia’s Berber village where you can experience Gnaoua trance music in the heart of Merzouga is a must do activity perfect for the entire family.

A direct drive to the Sahara Desert from Marrakech exceeds 9 hours, therefore we recommend a family trip that is not less than 4 Days/ 3 Nights. A Sahara Desert Family Adventure can be broken up as to allow for overnight stays in Ouarzazate, the Skoura palmeraie and the long-awaited 1001 Arabian nights desert experience in a luxury camp.

Breadbaking, Ait Ouzzine Village

2. Ait Ouzzine Berber Village Discovery 

If departing from Marrakech, you can drive along the desert route connecting the Draa Valley (Tansikht) and Rissani and enter the region of N’kob and Aït Ouzzine where you discover a local Berber village and enjoy time with a local family. The peaceful village of Ait Ouzzine is inhabited by over 300 families living in historic kasbahs. Each family maintains its own wheat, alfalfa and henna fields, water wells, livestock, and gardens. During your visit of Ait Ouzzine Berber Village, you will also have the option to partake in cooking lessons on how to make a Berber tajine and learn to bake traditional mountain bread. Exploration of Ait Ouzzine’s green fields and to learn how the Berbers use their botanical gardens, livestock, and henna plants are just a hint of the unique experiences that await you.

Interested in experiencing a traditional Moroccan beauty treatment? Then have your hands and feet painted with henna by a local village artist; they will adorn your hair with saffron. Take your beauty experience a step further and participate in being doused with Berber perfume: musk, amber, and the village’s own spices are the classic ingredients. Your afternoon will end with mint tea, almonds, then return to your hotel Ouarzazate in time to catch the African yellow sunset.

Oaseria Watertheme Park Marrakech

3. Marrakech’s Oasiria Water Theme Park

Marrakech is well positioned for day trips and that makes it a favorite city to base yourself and explore Morocco, however, summertime is hot. Escape the Red City’s heat in Oasiria, an Aquatic Park located in the outskirts of Marrakech. Oasiria has numerous slides at varying speeds and lengths, perfect for both children and adults. There is also an on-site fitness club and Africa’s first aqua rock climbing wall where your fall is designed to drop you into a giant swimming pool. Post workout, stroll through Oaseria’s 10-hectare garden and explore olive tree orchards and 500 species of botanical and medicinal plants. For lunch or dinner choose between one of the four open terrace restaurants. The menus offer family friend options ranging from burgers to pizza along with salads and a local daily tajine.

Bird Watching, Oualidia

4. Coastal Bliss & Bird Watch in Oualidia at a Lagoon

A recommended 2-3 day excursion from Marrakech for families in search of coastal bliss and bird watching is the Oualidia lagoon. Oualidia is located between the beach town of El Jadida and fisherman’s port of Safi. The region of Oualidia is also an important ecological location and an excellent choice for serious bird watchers or nature lovers. Oualidia is loved by in-the-know expats and Moroccans for its natural beaches, marshes, and wetlands. Bird lovers can look forward to spotting curlews, flamingos, sandpipers, plovers, Little Grebe, Oystercatcher, the Black-winged Stilt, the Yellow-legged Seagull, Grey Plovern, the Greenshank Curle and other migrating birds. The area has a temperate year-round climate. The best time for bird watching is in spring or summer.

An added bonus of visiting Oualidia in the summertime is that it is an off the beaten track location. Summers are not as crowded compared to the other beach towns like Essaouira and El Jadida. Oualdida offers a low key, relaxing environment and is a great place to unwind with a book, hike along cliff paths and deserted grottoes, or kayak around the lagoon. Stay for an afternoon or spend the night at the on-site at the 5-star boutique hotel La Sultana Oualidia or Hippocampe Hotel. Regardless of if you are in town for a day or overnight, don’t miss out on dining at Ostrea II, a seafood restaurant that offers the region’s specialty, oysters, crab and lobster along with other local catch of the day.

Trekking, Dades Valley & Gorge

5. Trek across the Dades Valley & Gorge or Explore by Car

Morocco is a country with varied terrain. A trek across the Dades Valley & Gorge is recommended for active families who are fit and would like to experience rocky terrain along with spectacular geologic views. A trek throughout the region of the Dades Valley will take you through a region that boasts limestone cliffs with uniquely shaped erosions and superb scenery. Depending on the season you will trek across fertile fields, riverbanks and see several fortified ksours. At the bottom of Gorge of Boumalne Dadès there are ruined hilltop Kasbahs and valley floor gardens.

For families who want to explore the Dades Valley region by car, the start is in Ouarzazate.  This route will take families through Skoura, a 12th-century fertile oasis designed by lmohad Sultan Yacoub el-Mansour. It is lined with immense palm groves and offers great views of the Atlas Mountains and deserted landscapes, and you will see Todra Gorge, a gigantic rock famous for the ability to change colors without sunlight.

By car, you would continue passing through the Valley of Roses, also known for its annual rose festival. The first festival started when the French brought over the Damask rose. Nowadays there are Capp et Florale distillation factories laid out in the small Kasbah town, they manufacture the entire nations products of Eau de rose.  After shopping, the scenic road awaits you. Other highlights of the car trip into the Dades Gorge Valley include seeing the Dades River and Imini River; they flow from the High Atlas Mountains southeastward to Tagounit and from Tagounit mostly westwards to the Atlantic Ocean. There are also guest houses en route where you can eat and enjoy views of the Dades Gorge.

6. Excursion to Ait Ashok, Ourika Valley’s Hidden Berber Village

The Berber Village of Ait Ashok is the perfect day trip from Marrakech for families looking to hike and picnic. Ait Ashok is one of the top hiking and picnic destination for active families. The Ouirka Valley can get crowded with tourists during peak season, but the charming Berber village Ait Ashok, is a secret gem where a peaceful hike can be enjoyed year round. This secret paradise has unforgettable views of the Atlas Mountains and small farming villages. Trekkers can have lunch with a local Berber family in an auberge with views. Depending on the time of year, you will see harvests of walnuts, almonds, apples, and other fruits.

Craft Workshops, Fes

7. Craft making in Fes: Leatherwork, Bookbinding, Brass Design, Drum Making

Morocco’s souk culture will expand your definition of what it means to shop. All of Morocco’s imperial cities and even villages have souks specializing in something. Souks are sectioned off into quarters and you can buy everything from sheepskin, leather goods, groceries at the outdoor food market, exotic spices, rugs, textiles to make your own garments, essential oils at pharmacies and everything in between; the most famous souk is in Fes, the fourth largest of Morocco’s cities.

Visitors from around the world come to explore the labyrinth-like medina of Fes and witness the famous Dyer’s market, Tannery, and the Weaver’s Cooperative. All three areas have preserved the traditional methods of making their crafts. At the Dyer’s market, families can see the century-old vats that have been used to soak animal skins and produce luxury goods. The Tannery continues to produce some of the best leather work in Morocco, and the Weavers specialize in making the finest silk fabrics for Jellabas. Local purchases for the entire family can be made along with special orders if you are interested in leather jackets or other goods.

The art of Moroccan Craftmaking in Fes is available to families interested in participating in a workshop. Local craft making workshops offer 4-hour hands-on sessions whereby children can learn how to emboss leather, bookbinding, make a brass tray or an African drum. An example of a family friendly workshop highly recommended is to learn how to make a leather bound journal. This type of workshop will cover the techniques of crafting your very own Leather journal – complete with long stitches and a variety of Manila papers!  The workshop will guide you through the step-by-step technique to craft your own handmade leather journal with long stitches. Materials, such as leather, thread, paper, and others, will be provided on the day of the workshop. This workshop also provides techniques on chiseling and stamping on leather to create unique covers for sketches or notebooks.

8. Fes Festival of Sacred World Music

For the past twenty-four years, the Fes Festival of Sacred Music has contributed to maintaining a dialogue with the sacred through its most famous forum and highlighting of arts and music. The 10-day festival is held in mid-summer annually and aims to bring together scholars, artists, musicians, families, Moroccans, and visitors from abroad. With roots in spiritual values, the festival serves as an anchoring ground to teach people to learn to appreciate different cultures and communicate better with one another.

In addition to bringing attention to various cultures, the Fes Festival has been a wonderful tool in raising awareness for Moroccan culture. During the day, visitors can explore Fes’ medina, souk, and mosques or take part in seminars or round table discussions covering the festival theme. In the afternoon, evening, and late night, there are concerts given by performers arriving from every angle of the globe. These musicians help celebrate the musical spectrum of European classical, Sufi ritual songs, trance music, Arab-Andalusian rhythms, a Bulgarian orthodox choir, Hindustani chants, Celtic sacred music, Christian Gospel, Swedish chamber choir, Pakistani Qawwali incantations, Egyptian madhi odes, flamenco-style Christian saeta, ancient Indian gwalior chants and Turkish whirling dervishes.

Ever since its inception, this event has witnessed growing success. In 2001, the UNO declared the Festival as one of the most outstanding events that are contributing to the dialogue of civilizations.

The Blue City, Chefchaouen

9. Explore Chefchaouen, the Storybook Blue City

Exploring Morocco on a family adventure would not be complete without visiting the Storybook Blue City Chefchaouen. Set in the northernmost point of Morocco, Chefchaouen is in-between Tetouan – Morocco’s Little Jerusalem – and the Rif Mountains. Chefchaouen is famous for its blue-painted houses and local goat cheese. Historically, the town’s former population was Jewish. After the Spanish Reconquista of medieval times, many Jews sought refuge in this mountain city. Chefchaouen was also used as a fortress by Moulay Ali Ben Moussa Ben Rached El Alami to fight off the invading Portuguese who were entering Morocco from the North in 1920; the Spanish seized Chefchaouen to form part of Spanish Morocco. Families interested in Spanish history will enjoy learning about Andalucia’s connection with this part of Morocco.

Beyond Chefchaouen’s charming architecture, the town is ideal for a low key hike, to kick back and read a book, and shop for native handicrafts that are unique to this Northern Moroccan town. Chefchaouen offers a nice array of locally woven items such as wool blankets made with the regional colors of red, white and blue. You can also find local artisans who sell hand-painted furniture, local pottery made with terracotta and antique jewelry. Chefvhaouen’s name means “look at the horns”, referring to the shapes of the mountain tops that tower over the town and look like the two horns (chaoua) of a goat. Not surprisingly goats are in abundance in this area and the cheese native to Chefchaouen is said to be some of the tastiest in all of Morocco.

For more information about Popular Family Tours or  Things to do With Kids in Essaouira

How to Spend 24 Hours Discovering Tangier

Thursday, April 4th, 2019


Tangier, referred to as “The Bride of the North” has long been a romantic haven frequented by artists, beat poets and writers who arrived on North African shores from the 1920’s – 1960’s seeking an exotic adventure in this “international zone.”  Tangier’s allure during the 20th Century was its liberal lifestyle that allowed people to reinvent themselves. Tangier intern became a seductress: whereby booze, drugs and parties ruled during the free zone period. Notable visitors who came to this Moroccan enclave include Paul Bowles, Matisse, Malcolm Forbes, Pierre Loti, Van Dongen, Paul Morand, William Burroughs, Delacroix, and Van Dongen. Tangier was a place where people could rub shoulders with Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams and Gertrude Stein.

Although the Sultan of Morocco continued to have sovereignty over Tangier and the Moroccan people, the city developed a reputation famous for being a melting pot. Over a 32 year period, it became a city tolerant of all cultures, religions and lifestyles. Tangier continued to attract a host of prominent Europeans and American artists, writers, musicians, poets, billionaires, filmmakers and celebrities, all who produced art in its honor. In 1956, the city became part of the newly independent Kingdom of Morocco.

 

American Legation Museum, Tangier

One could easily spend a week in Tangier. If you only have 24 Hours in Tangier, the best way to navigate this white city and discover the Bride of the North can be found here.

8:00 AM – 10:00 AM: Morning Stroll along Boulevard Mohammed VI

Rise early and go for a stroll or jog along Boulevard Mohammed VI. From the Corniche Gardens, you can take in a wide view of the port and a magnificent view of the ancient city walls.; across from lookout point at Muraille de Tanger. Mohammed VI Boulevard is lined with Moroccan cafes that offer views of the Atlantic Coast’s turquoise blue waters. New on the block is the Tanja Marina Bay, a long strip perched with cafes and restaurants built near the port area. The French Cafe Paul and La Table du Marche are two options for breakfast perfect spots if you want something modern. If you prefer the tradition of a long-standing Tangier breakfast visit Cafe de Paris, once frequented by Paul Bowles, Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, and Tennessee Williams. Other local options are Le Salon Bleu or Le Nebab located in the Kasbah.

Librairie des Colonnes, Tangier

10:00 AM: Soak Up Literature At Librairie des Colonnes

Morning inspiration can be found at the famous landmark bookshop Librairie des Colonnes with wonderful architecture. Librairie des Colonnes is a Tangier institution that offers a wide selection of books, with a healthy English language section. There are book readings, events and author signings that take place here weekly. Once a favorite stomping ground of the legendary Paul Bowles, Jean Genet, Samuel Becket, and William Burroughs, this one-of-a-kind bookshop should be on your bucket list.

11:00 AM: Visit the American Legion Museum

Your entry into the Tangier Kasbah will start at Cafe Seoul, a local coffee shop along Mohammed VI Avenue. The spot is located inside a row of buildings with architecture dating back to the French, Italian, and Portuguese periods. A short walk away is the American Legation Museum. The American Legation Museum in Tangier is the United States oldest diplomatic building in the world. It houses an extensive collection of artworks, maps, a library, and a research center specializing in North African and Arabic studies. There are also three rooms dedicated to Paul Bowles. Historically, the building is important because it was a gift to the United States from Sultan Moulay Slimane 150 years ago. Its interior is an interesting blend of early-nineteenth-century furnishings mixed with Moorish arches, fountains, gardens, ornate zellij tile work, and finely-crafted period photographs. During the Jacksonian period, many diplomats stayed at the Legation building when visiting Tangier. The institute often organizes book readings, musical concerts, and other events. The public is free to use the research facilities with advanced reservation. An interesting piece of history many visitors are surprised to learn is that Morocco was the first country to recognize the United States in 1777. Entrance to the museum is 20 Dirhams ($2.00)

12:00 PM: The Grand Socco & Cinema Rif

Not far from the American Legion Museum is the Grand Socco, a souq and the official entrance to the medina. The Grand Socco is filled with interesting historical mentions. It was once the home to the Mendoub, a representative of the Sultan.  At the top of the Grand Socco lies the Art Deco Cinema Rif Theatre which offers two main screens and plays mainstream and indie films with subtitles. Today the Cinema Rif also serves as a cultural center attracting students, writers, and curious travelers with its free WIFI, hot beverages, and art house coffee talk. On Thursdays and Sundays, the Grand Socco is also the spot to find the farmer’s market. Djebelli villagers come into the city from surrounding regions and bring fresh goat cheeses, organic fruits, vegetables, and farm fresh eggs.

Le Saveur de Poisson, Tangier

1:00 PM: Lunch at Le Saveur de Poisson

Located on the north hill of the Grand Socco is Le Saveur de Poisson one of Tangier’s most sought after restaurants that serves a mix of fresh seafood and unique homemade dishes infused with herbs. Graciously featured in Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown Series, Episode #5 on Tangier, is owner and chef, Chez Mohammed. Chez Mohammed heralds from the region of Al Hoceima in Morocco’s North. Bourdain chats up Mohammed and takes viewers through an unforgettable foodie journey in this episode. No reservations are accepted at Le Saveur. Arrive hungry and promptly as lunch service is at 1:00pm and dinner service at 7:00 pm daily. The menu is set at 200 Dirhams ($25.00 P/P) and varies based upon season. Chez Mohammed preps his special stews and juices in a small back room, the size of a closet, which can be frequented by visitors who dare to ask. A typical four-course meal includes Moroccan fresh baked bread, local olives, toasted nuts,  pomegranate, and raspberry fruit juice, followed by a fragrant white fish tagine, grilled sole served along shark skewers and for dessert fresh fruit topped with local honey, pine nuts and barley.

Las Chicas, Concept Store, Design & Fashion, Tangier

2:00 PM: Explore & Shop the Ancient Medina – The Kasbah

An essential part of any trip to Morocco is getting lost in the walled cities (historic medinas). The 14th-century medina in Tangier is a cornucopia of traditions self-contained by its 15th Century Portuguese walls. Its labyrinth of alleys run the entire city, each offering a glimpse of local life. Rue Sebou and Rue des Almohades are a shopper’s paradise for those interested in purchasing traditional Moroccan goods. They are filled with stalls selling artisanal goods such as leather, caftans, baboosh, silver teapots and glasses and sweets. To shop for modern goods, visit the streets around the Kasbah.

Design Concept stores such as La Chicas and Rumi 1436 offer a new take on Moorish Design. Las Chicas showcases Modern Moroccan fashion and decor offering a keen mix of cushions, lanterns infused Moroccan oil and tasseled goods. Rumi 1436 specializes in natural candles made with organic soy wax and Moroccan tea sets composed of silver and glassware.

For handmade luxury goods visit Laure Welfling’s Boho inspired boutique where you can find embroidered caftans, hand stitched and sequined overcoats. Their line of ready-to-wear for men and women has been created using a mixture of fabrics and styles with a luxurious and sophisticated fashion approach. Every year a collection of unique pieces, entirely handmade, is designed between Paris and Tangier.

Not to be missed for those looking to shop for a Berber carpet is Coin de L’Art Berber, which offers an extensive collection of rugs including those from the Middle and High Atlas regions, made by Saharan and southern Berber tribes. There is also a collection of doors, locks, windows, and boxes from southern Morocco and the Sahara.

4:00 PM: Tea Time at Cafe Hafa

At 4:00pm, make your way over to Cafe Hafa. It’s tea time at this multi-leveled blue walled cafe, where the best views of the Bay of Tangier can be found. Sip your Mint tea with camera in hand. Opened in 1921 Cafe Hafa retained its 1920’s style exterior decor. Beat Generation writers like Paul Bowles, William Burroughs and musicians like the Beatles and Rolling Stones frequented Cafe Hafa famous for serving Moroccan mint tea. It’s also the perfect place to light up and enjoy kif overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Today, Cafe Hafa is still popular with celebrities.

5:00 PM: Visit the Kasbah Museum

Next visit the Kasbah Museum. Formerly known as the Sultan’s Royal Palace of Dar El Makhzen, the Kasbah Museum focuses on the history of how Tangier is linked with Europe. It also displays archaeological artifacts from the Northern Morocco region. The permanent exhibition is divided into three parts, the seigneurial residence with garden and outbuildings (al-dar al-kabira), the first-floor apartment (dwirat qubbat sidi-al-bukhari) and the ceremonial room known as the treasure room (bit al-mal). Architectural characteristics of the residence include a large courtyard paved with zellij (small tiles), a water fountain, portico columns decorated with crescent moons, and zellij panels in the North and South wings. There are also two main rooms with trademark muqarnas (honeycomb-work) featured inside an ornate wooden dome with repetitive epigraphic and geometric motifs.

6:30 PM: Wind Down at Les Fils du Détroit

After a long day of exploration rest your feet at the 15m square musical home of Les Fils du Détroit.  The group is now managed by a local architect however has been rocking the Kasbah for over four decades. The native Moroccan men don’t ask for an entrance fee, rather they serve you mint tea and hold live jam sessions out of sheer pleasure. Listeners are in awe of how a violin, a Middle Eastern oud (borrowed from Andalusian music in Morocco,) and a darbouka, a single head drum, can blend together so well.

8:00 PM: Dinner at The Morocco Club

Set at the top of the Kasbah, The Morocco Club is a historic house turned restaurant and piano bar. It was built by Stuart Church and designed by Vincent Coppe and Oscar Badjii. All three men loved Tangier and left an artistic impact on the city. The restaurant, with its sophisticated charm and decor, looks like a scene you might find in the American series, Mad Men. The upstairs Piano Bar has served its international menu to talented artists like Jazz4Joy, Camélia Jordana, Donia Berriri and L-initiale trio; after dinner head downstairs to the cocktail bar and enjoy live music; the DJ plays into the late-night hours.