Posts Tagged ‘Marrakech restaurant guide’

How Does the Ramadan Fast Affect Tourists in Morocco. Your Morocco Travel Guide

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

Men At Prayer During Ramadan

How does the Ramadan fast affect tourists traveling to the Imperial Cities, the Sahara Desert and other regions of Morocco during this high holy holiday? Can tourists eat or drink in public during Ramadan?  This article should clear up the confusion on this issue for tourists, to explain the most polite solutions for tourist behavior at this time, and to assure tourists that there is no problem with them visiting Morocco during Ramadan.

Because the Islamic calendar is lunar, holidays such as Ramadan advance by approximately ten days with each subsequent year.  This means that Ramadan makes a cycle through the entire calendar of twelve months each twenty-some years.  This year, Ramadan started on August 12th, 2010 in Morocco.  The fast presently starts in Morocco at approximately 4:30 AM, and ends in the evening at approximately 7:30 PM.

Islamic Lunar Calendar

Tourists in Morocco during Ramadan often hear that some people are not required to fast because of sickness, or health conditions such as diabetes, as well as women having their menstration.  But non-Muslim tourists are often confused about the polite way to behave with Muslims during Ramadan; what tourists are permitted to do, or not do; and tourists wonder which stories they hear are true, or not true.

Hassan II Mosque, Casablanca Morocco

Morocco’s Ramadan Law:

It IS actually true that Morocco’s laws prohibit “a person commonly known to be Muslim” from “violating the fast in a public place during Ramadan.”  It is called the Ramadan Law, and is under Article 222 of the Moroccan Penal Code.  (This law also applies to Muslim tourists coming from known Muslim countries, such as Saudi Arabia, if they were to flaunt the fast in public.)   The penalties are from one to six months in prison and a fine of up to approximately 100 Euros.  The law states that the only Muslims who are exempt from this requirement are children, the elderly, the sick;  and pregnant, lactating or menstruating women.

Sometimes one can read about small protests that take place in Morocco against this law.  The truth is, while this law is on the books, people are rarely prosecuted.  Usually, if there is a token protest, the police do their best to try to prevent the protesters from arriving at the protest location, instead of arresting them.

Remember, it is NOT forbidden by law  to EAT during Ramadan (even though it IS socially unacceptable for Muslims who should be fasting), which means that Muslims who decide not to fast in their own homes will incur no penalties (other than sin against God).  The law is very specific saying that Muslims “shall not violate the fast in a PUBLIC place.”  Keeping the fast is difficult, and becomes much more difficult if people actively break it in front of others who are fasting.  Therefore, the reason for this law is two-fold:  to make it easier for those who are fasting, as well as to both teach the young, and communicate the idea to all Muslims that breaking the fast is most definitely not socially acceptable.  This goes right along with several other laws in Morocco which prohibit certain behavior IN PUBLIC PLACES by Muslims (discussed below).

The whole key here is PUBLIC PLACE.  Let’s explore what this means.

Women Shopping During Ramadan

Those Excused from Fasting:

Children are not required to fast at all, although older children (8-12) might be encouraged to try it on a couple of special days during the month.  But no child is FORCED to fast those days.  Those who do usually try hard to get through the day because it gives them the feeling of being “grown up.”  They see the adults doing it, and they want to be part of that adult world, to feel respected and admired for doing so.

Younger children would never be encouraged to fast, even on those one or two special days.  They are still growing and Islam clearly recognizes that fasting is not good for their growing bodies.  If you go to a semi-private location, such as a swimming pool at a private club, you will find all the Muslim mothers feeding their children during the day, and no one objects to this.  But they are not eating out on the public street.  Muslim mothers certainly feed their children at home during the day, as well.

The elderly DO fast.  Elderly people fast unless they are in extremely poor health.  In many cases, doctors even advise them not to fast, but many of them do it anyway.  They do it because they feel there is moral value in fasting, and in many cases, it is a case of self-respect.  Some very elderly or infirm people give up fasting, but very rarely.

Sick (or injured) people are not to fast.  The question becomes how sick or injured one must be.  If blood comes out of one’sbody, such as if someone cuts themself in the kitchen with a knife accidentally, that would invalidate their fast for that day.  But the question is how much.  Suppose a man gets a tiny knick from his razor, is that enough to invalidate the fast?  Supposedly not.  But since that becomes questionable depending upon the size of the knick, many Muslim men shave in the evening during Ramadan, just in case.

People with serious health conditions such as diabetes can fast and are encouraged to do so if their illness is not severe and they have it properly under control.  Those with more advanced or severe diabetes are often told by doctors that they should not fast, yet some of them do anyway.  It seems to be a question of pride (or even showing off to others that they “can” do it) and maintaining respect both in their own eyes and from others, particularly if they are not old.  Some diabetics insist on fasting and even fall into comas because of it, yet continue to fast anyway.  Most Muslims, if questioned about these people insist that they most definitely should not be fasting.

People who are just a little bit sick (a light cold, headache, even sore throat, or ear infection) still have to fast.  If someone had a fever, they would be excused from fasting.  Malingering, when someone is just very slightly ill or not feeling their best is definitely not an acceptable excuse.

Pregnant women are not supposed to fast, but in fact, many do.  This is because pregnant women are supposed to make up the fasting days later in the year on their own.  The explanation given by some Moroccan women for fasting while pregnant is that, “I would not be able to make up all those days on my own.”  However, this behavior is most definitley not condoned by Islam.

Lactating women are not supposed to fast either, and are also required to make up the days on their own.

Menstruating women are not required to fast.  Most women find these days a welcome break during the middle of fasting.  However, if they are working in a company with mixed Moroccan and foreign workers, they will not join others in the lunchroom who are not fasting, even if they themselves are eating during those days; instead they wait, and eat at home.  The reason is interesting.  They say that if a man at their workplace sees them eating, he will know it is their time of the month.  They say they don’t like their male co-workers knowing this personal information!  Therefore, they don’t eat at work.  They must also make up those fasting days later in the year.

There is one guide book about Morocco which says something which is completely wrong. It says that in the days before Ramadan, you start to see some of the women and older people fasting a few days before Ramadan, in order to “practice” and be habituated  when Ramadan starts.  This reasoning is wrong.  What IS correct is that they are making up missed days from the year before, as those days need to be completely made up before the new Ramadan fast begins (or they are answerable to God for each day not made up).  Some elderly people could be making up days they missed.  A few, extremely devout people do fast a few extra days, as they feel they will earn “extra points” with God for doing a few extra days of fasting.

Ladies in Djemaa El Fna Square, Ramadan

About Public Spaces in Morocco:

The Ramadan Law is not the only law relating to public space in Morocco.

A similar law (and similarly confusing to many tourists) is about alcohol.   In places like Agadir on the boardwalk next to the beach, or in bars located in other cities, there is sometimes an outdoor section where clients can sit and order drinks.  In some locations, tourists can order a beer or glass of wine and drink it while seated in the outdoor section.  While Muslims can also order a beer or glass of wine (except during Ramadan or other Muslim holdiays when it is strictly prohibited), they must sit inside to drink it.  Those Muslims who are sitting outside are only drinking coffee or other non-alcoholic drinks.

Is this hypocrisy?  Most tourists think so.  However, Moroccans feel it is proper because being a Muslim country it is more offensive to Muslims in the street to see other Muslims consuming alcohol than it is for them to see non-Muslims consuming it.  It is a bit like vulgar words being bleeped out on broadcast American TV.  Everyone knows they are saying vulgar words, but at least Americans don’t have to hear those words.  It’s a similar situation.  Muslims in the street know that others are inside consuming alcohol, but at least they don’t have to see other Muslims doing it.

The Ramadan Law has a similar reasoning.  People can eat if they want to, but if you’re Muslim, you are just forbidden from doing so in PUBLIC.

Chebekia Moroccan Pastry Eaten At Ramadan

A Guide for Tourist Behavior During Ramadan:

Understanding these factors, what should non-Muslim tourists do?  Out of respect, they should follow similar behavior as Muslims who would be diabetic, or ill, or pregnant.

These Muslims would eat at home.  If they were sick while out somewhere, yet needed to eat or drink, they would go in a private place where no one would see them (a few people might go into a restroom if there were no other place, but only as a last resort).  Very few restaurants would be open during the day, but tourists would find a few, primarily in hotels.  Both Muslims and tourists could buy water at a shop, but should not just open it and drink it in front of everyone.  Instead, they should find a place to drink privately, not in public.  (One Moroccan Muslim man was attacked in Fes two years ago by civilian vigilantes for drinking water in the medina street, arrested, and subsequently released when his family proved he was diabetic.  But it’s clear he was pushing the boundaries of acceptable behavior, and would have known it.  He could easily have explained in advance he was diabetic, and asked anyone if there was a private place where he could sip his water.)  So this is no reason for tourists to be alarmed.

If a tourist and were openly eating and drinking during Ramadan, people would most likely just give him dirty looks, understanding that he was a tourist.  But the polite and respectful thing to do would be for him to eat and drink well before going out.  It is advisable for tourists to take water in their bag, by all means, but just find a private place to drink it.  If a tourist needs to eat, he / she shouldn’t do it in public.  It’s perfectly acceptable for tourists to eat in any restaurant you find that is open, and these are most likely to be found in hotels or known tourist locations.

Harira & Dates, Breafkast (L'Ftour) Ramadan

Ramadan can actually be a very interesting time to visit a Muslim country.  After dark, families go out late, and plenty of interesting things go on until quite late in the evening.  Just be considerate of people during this month.  The Ramadan Law is actually just asking (and ensuring) that Muslims also continue to treat each other respectfully.

For more information about traveling to Morocco’s Imperial Cities or Sahara Desert During Ramadan

For more information about Travel and Tours to Morocco plus highlights on Moroccan culture visit Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara DesertBerber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration

Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel. We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or 1 (917)703-2078 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

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Best Restaurants in Marrakech, Fes & Essaouira Come Travel to Morocco With Us, Your Morocco Travel Guide

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

If you are in the process of planning a vacation to Morocco for Spring 2010 or a Morocco tour, then it is important to have your finger on the pulse of the best restaurants and haute cuisine in Marrakech, Fes and Essaouira. Eating in Morocco is an experience that is second to none when Moroccan travelers pair their choice of a Morocco Travel agency with a uniquely Moroccan dining experience and stay in Moroccan Riads or Moroccan Hotels that have been hand selected by Moroccan Travel Specialists. When traveling to Morocco why not ask the experts of Morocco Travel and you will then be guaranteed to discover the best of Morocco.

Since the early 1990’s Marrakech, Fes and Essaouira have expanded their offerings for foodies and today some of the best cuisine in North Africa can be had in the red city of Marrakech, Fes, a UNESCO World Heritage site or the seaside city of Essaouira. Marrakech, Fes and Essaouira boast delightful restaurants, professional chefs and haute cuisine that mélanges French and Moroccan traditional cooking styles plus and an atmosphere to boot that is uniquely Moroccan.


Moroccan Modern cuisine is in vogue. If you are planning a Morocco vacation it is best to hit the ground running in the food category and come prepared to eat three and four course meals that are always complimented by fresh mint, Moroccan sweet and nutty deserts along side some of the best Moroccan wine and Moroccan beer, home to Morocco’s Imperial city of Meknes.

They say, “when in Rome, do as the Romans” so at Travel Exploration Morocco, we say “when in Morocco, do as the Moroccans.” The best Morocco travel agents will always provide you with a detailed list of Moroccan Riads, Moroccan Restaurants and Morocco Siteseeing excursions that tempt the senses and offer exploration of mind, heart and pallet.


This majestic Moroccan restaurant that overlooks Djemma El Fna Square is the best place to eat if you want a full view of the Djemma. Le Marrakechi has reasonably priced Moroccan cuisine for the large portions they provide and boasts and atmosphere that is filled with charm. Step into Le Marrakechi and you are led up a stairway this is covered with rose petals onto an open floor plan that is surrounded by traditional Moroccan zellij tile and has floor to ceiling clear, glass windows that abut each corner offering the clear view of Djemma El Fna. The service is spectacular as is the bellydancing show that is gratis to all those who come to enjoy Le Marrakechi.

52, rue des Banques, just off Djemâa El Fna, Marrakesh
Phone: +212- 524-44-33-77

Le-Marrakechi- Marrakech

Le Tanja is a stylish brassarie in the old medina and has excellent tajines, couscous and fish dishes. The serene, elegant rooftop terrace with beautiful rose-filled fountain is a great place to relax at sunset with views over the ancient alleyways.

14 Derb J’did Hay Essalam, medina
Phone: 212-24-383-836

Jad Mahal is a combination of bar, restaurant and dance complex. Since its opening in December 2003, Jad Mahal has been a hit amongst travelers and hip young Marrakech’s and is a trendy addition to the Marrakech nightlife scene. Located just outside the old city, Jad Mahal boasts and elegant courtyard with two dining rooms, with a blend of Indian and Moroccan Décor.

Fontaine de la Mamounia
Phone: +212-524-436-984

This is one of the best places to eat in the Marrakech Medina with lovely staff and a romantic and chic vibe. Guided by men in cloaks and a lantern, down a dusty alley, you’ll find this chic purple-hued dining den:a riad eatery with a cosmopolitan feel, good cocktails and excellent Moroccan/Mediterranean fusion food. Ask for a table along the railing for the best views or up on the roof terrace in nice weather. Le Fondouk is a funky place to dine with a mixed menu of French and Moroccan cuisine served on three levels.

Souk El Fassi Kaat Bennahit
Phone: +212-524-378-190


This is the place to go for Palace style dining. Ignore the fact it is a tourist haunt and enjoy a full evening starting with drinks on the roof, appetizers served around one of the many grand fireplaces, before you descend to one of the glass walled dining rooms over- looking the pool courtyard. You’ll be seated along a banquette with a 5’ diameter table  which will be piled with an astounding amount of food while being entertained by traditional Moroccan music. This place is all about the architectural wow factor.

79 rue Sidi Ahmed Soussi, Arset Ihiri
Phone: +212-524-380-29-29

Le Comptoir is a hot sport for pre- or after dinner drinks- and dinner. It has both an upper level and lower level Soho style bar and a simply arresting belly dancing show, compliments of the owners. It is a favorite stop for Marrakech Film Festival luminaries and has extremely delicious cuisine that mélanges French- Moroccan style.

Avenue Echouhada (Hivernages/ Gueliz)
Phone: +212-524-383-836

Le-Comptoir-Darna- Marrakech

One of the few good places to stop and rest and have some lunch right in the souks. Salads, sandwiches and pastries are all on the menu here, and you can wash it all down with a choice of spiced teas.Seats are available on the rooftop terrace, as well as inside.WiFi available.Credit cards not accepted. Open daily 8am-8pm

Place Rahba Qedima (Spice Souks)
Phone: +212-524-39-17-70

Kamal Laftimi (is a smart young Moroccan who started out with a small riad, Tlaata wa Sitteen. His Café des Épices in the heart of the souks is now an obligatory stop for anyone in need of a light lunch and the Terrace repeats the formula with laidback seating in open-sided booths, cool music and big views.This time he has added a good all-day Franco-Moroccan dining menu.Specialties include salads and grilled meat and fish, and  there is always a range of fresh juices – orange, of course, all year round, and whatever else is in season.Young expats not normally seen on this side of town can be found lounging on the banquettes, while an increasing number of foreigners in search of a quiet moment in the souk are making their way up the stairs to this rooftop hide-away. No Liquor.

15 Souk Cherifia, Sidi Abdelaziz



Palais De Fes serves authentic Moroccan cuisine, considered among the best of the best in Fes. Located in the heart of the medina, the restaurants terrace offers stunning views of the winding streets. A must is this restaurants pastilla (pigeon pie) which is a tender meat soaked in aromatic sauce and layered with vegetables, raisns and local spices beneath a pastry crust sprinkled with connamon and sugar.

5 Makhfia Ech Cif
Phone: +212-55-761-590

Dar Roumana means House of Pomegranate. This Riad and restaurant offers creative Moroccan cuisine by a French-trained chef who is an American, Jennifer Smith. The restaurant is located in a beautiful Riad and Smith offers a combination of Fassis and Modern Moroccan cuisine with French twist. Reservations are required.

30 Derb el Amer, Zkak Roumane
Phone: +212-35-741-637

La Maison Bleue is one of Fes’ oldest and most stylish traditional Moroccan Fasis restaurants. Couscous, Sheep Brains, Fasis Salads and Pastilla with Powered Sugar are offered at pre fix or ala carte while you sit surrounded by zellij tile, vaulted ceilings and are serenaded by Gnaoua Music.

2, Place de l’Istiqlal
Phone: +212-5-35-74-18-43

This is a modern Moroccan restaurant located in the ville nouvelle, new city of Fes on Mohamed V. It offers Moroccan and Continental Cuisine. Their fish dishes, salads and selection of wines are a nice compliment to the typical Moroccan cuisine if you are spending several days in Fes.

5 Bd Mohammed V
Phone: +212-05-35-624-618



This restaurant offers stunning views of the sea and is just a ten minute walk towards the end of the seaport in Essaouira. Chez Sam offers excellent seafood for the value. They are one of the more reasonably prices seafood restaurants in town. The staff is very friendly and they offer wine to compliment the variety of kinds of seafood served. Chez Sam has both an upstairs area to dine which enables guests to enjoy the views of the sea.

Au fond du port
Phone: + 212-44-47-65-13

Elizer, pronounced Elixer is one of Essaourias best restaurants. This 60’s retro style restaurant has a reputation that keeps on moving. With its stylistic modern- Moroccan cuisine and décor, Elixer is sure to leave you with a most memorable dining experience during your stay in Essaouira.

Phone: +212-24-470-21-03

Le Sirocco is a well-established Franco-Moroccan restaurant in Essaouira. It is a reliable favorite of returning tourists and local expats alike. Prices are a bit higher than most other restaurants in town, but well worth it. The owners are French and the food is simply delicious. Le Sirocco offers the standard Moroccan fare in addition to specialties such as dark chocolate molten cake and excellent fish dishes.

Rue Ibn Roch
Phone: +212-524-472-396

Le Chalet de la Plage is a beachfront institution in Esaouira that has some of the best seafood in town. Built entirely of wood in 1893, the restaurant is in its fourth family of proprietors, the Jeannots, and the dark, maritime-theme interior is adorned with pictures and mementos of a past guest list that includes a French president and Hollywood movie stars. Diners feast on items from a French-language menu that offers Oualidia oysters, shrimp, calamari, lobster, and a wide selection of line fish. There’s also a small choice of other meats, soups and salads, three-course set menus, and Chez Jeannot’s suggestions du jour. A well-stocked bar is complimented by a select wine list, chosen by local vintner Charles Melia.

Boulevard Mohammed V
Phone: + 212-24-47-59-72

For a complete more information on Morocco’s best Restaurants and Travel Exploration Morocco

For more information about Travel and Tours to Morocco plus highlights on Moroccan culture visit Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara DesertBerber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate.

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration

Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel. We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806  or 1 (917)703-2078  and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

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