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Fes
فاس Fās
The city stretching into the distance, 2001
Fes is located in Morocco
Fes
Location in Morocco
Coordinates: 34°2′N 5°0′W / 34.033°N 5°W / 34.033; -5Coordinates: 34°2′N 5°0′W / 34.033°N 5°W / 34.033; -5
Country  Morocco
Region Fès-Boulemane
Elevation [1] 1,259 ft (383.7 m)
Population (2008)
 - Total 1,008,782
The Blue Gate of Fes.
Leather tanning in Fes

Fes or Fez (Arabic: فاس‎ [Fās], French: Fès) is the fourth largest city in Morocco —after Casablanca, Rabat and Marrakech— with a population of 946,815 (2004 census). It is the capital of the Fès-Boulemane region.

Fes, a former capital, is one of the country's four "imperial cities," the others being Marrakech, Meknes and Rabat. It comprises three distinct parts, Fes el Bali (the old, walled city), Fes-Jdid (new Fes, home of the Mellah) and the Ville Nouvelle (the French-created, newest section of Fes).

Fes el Bali is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its medina, the larger of the two medinas of Fes, is believed to be the world's largest contiguous car-free urban area. The University of Al-Karaouine, founded in 859 C.E., is the oldest continuously functioning university in the world.

Contents

History

Some of the ancient Jewish population of Fes, pictured in about 1900.

The city was founded on a bank of the Fez River by Idris I in 789, founder of the Idrisid dynasty, the works being continued on the opposite bank by his son Idris II (808).[2].

Arab emigration to Fes, including 800 Al-Andalusian families expelled after a rebellion which took place in Córdoba in 817-818, and other 2,000 families banned from Kairouan (modern Tunisia) after another rebellion that took place in 824, gave the city a definite Arab character. 'Adwat Al-Andalus and 'Adwat al-Qarawiyyin, the two main quarters of Fes, were called respectively after the two waves of Arab immigrants to the new city.[3] During Yahya ibn Muhammad's rule the Kairouyine mosque, one of the oldest and largest in Africa, was built, together with the associated University of Al-Karaouine was founded (859).[4]

After Ali ibn Umar (Ali II) came to power, the Berber tribes of Madyuna, Gayatha and Miknasa, which were Sufrite Kharijites, formed a common front against the Idrisid and, after defeating Ali's armies, occupied Fes. They were driven out of the city by Yahya ibn Al-Qassim, who declared himself Ali's successor.[5]

The city was populated by Muslims from elsewhere in North Africa, the Middle East, Moriscos (especially after the Spanish conquest of Granada in 1492), as well as many Jews, who had their own quarter, or Mellah, in the city. The two halves of Fes were united in 1069, after the destruction of the wall dividing them. Although losing its capital status to Marrakech and Tlemcen under the Almoravids, Fes became the scientific and religious center, where both Muslims and Christians from Europe came to study. In 1250 it regained its capitals status under the Marinid dynasty.

In the Early Modern Age, the Ottoman Empire neared to Fes after the conquest of Oujda in the 16th century. In 1554 the Wattasids Dynasty took Fes with the support of the Turks, and the city became a vassal of the Ottomans, who finally conquered it in 1579 under sulat Murad III.[6] The Ottoman power in the North Africa concentrated itself more on the threats posed by Habsburg Spain and the Portuguese Kingdom. As a result, Fes was not under pressure by the Ottoman rulers. The conquest of Fes was the catalyst for the move of the capital city of the Saadi Dynasty to Marrakech City. At the beginning of the 17th century the town returned under Morocco with Ahmad al Mansur.[7]

After the fall of the Saadi Dynasty (1649), Fes was a major trading post of the Barbary Coast of North Africa. Until the 19th century it was the only source of Fez hats (also known as the tarboosh), before they began to be manufactured in France and Turkey; originally, the dye for the hats came from a berry that was grown outside the city, known as the Turkish "kızılcık" or Greek "akenia" (Cornus mascula). Fes was also the end of a north-south gold trading route from Timbuktu. Fes was also a prime manufacturing location for leather goods such as the Adarga.

It became independent in 1790, under the leadership of Yazid (1790–1792), and later, of Abu´r-Rabi Sulayman, who fell however to Morocco in 1795. In 1819–1821 Fes took part in the rebellion led by Ibrahim ibn Yazid, as well as to the 1832 rebellion, led by Muhammad ibn Tayyib.

Fes was again the capital of Morocco until 1912, when most of Morocco came under French control and Rabat was chosen as the capital of the new colony, a status retained even when Morocco achieved independence in 1956. While many of the original inhabitants of Fes have since emigrated, the Jewish quarter has been emptied of its Jewish population (in 1465, there was large massacre of Jews by Arab riots.[8] ), and the economy has stagnated. Despite the traditional character of most of the city, there is also a modern section, the Ville Nouvelle, or "New City", which is a bustling commercial center. The popularity of the city has increased since the King of Morocco took a computer engineer from Fes, Salma Bennani, as his wife.

Climate

Located along the Atlas Mountains, Fes has a seasonal climate, shifting from cool in winter to hot days in the summer months of July-September. The nights are always cool (or colder in winter), with daytime temperatures generally rising about +9~14 C° (+15~26 F°) every day. The winter highs typically reach only 16°C (60°F) in December-January (see weather-table below).

Weather data for Fes, Morocco
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Average high °C (°F) 16
(61)
17
(63)
19
(66)
21
(70)
24
(75)
28
(82)
33
(91)
33
(91)
29
(84)
24
(75)
19
(66)
16
(61)
Average low °C (°F) 6
(43)
7
(45)
8
(46)
9
(48)
14
(57)
15
(59)
18
(64)
18
(64)
17
(63)
13
(55)
9
(48)
9
(48)
Precipitation mm (inches) 71
(2.8)
102
(4.02)
94
(3.7)
89
(3.5)
53
(2.09)
25
(0.98)
2.5
(0.1)
2.5
(0.1)
17.8
(0.7)
63.5
(2.5)
89
(3.5)
86
(3.39)
Source: Lat34North.com, Yahoo.com[1]

Main sights

Mule moving goods in the car-free Medina in Fes.

Fes is becoming an increasingly popular tourist destination and many non-Moroccans are now restoring traditional houses (riads and dars) as second homes in the Fes medina. The most important monuments in the city are:

Transport

The city is served by Saïss Airport. It also has an ONCF train station which goes east to Oujda and west to Tanger and Casablanca.[9]

International relations

Main article: List of twin towns and sister cities in Morocco
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Twin towns — Sister cities

Fes is twinned with:

Partnerships

Notes

  1. ^ a b "Fes, Kingdom of Morocco", Lat34North.com & Yahoo! Weather, 2009, webpages: L34-Fes and Yahoo-Fes-stats.
  2. ^ "Fes". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2007. Britannica Concise Encyclopedia. 3 Mar. 2007
  3. ^ A History of the Maghrib in the Islamic Period By Jamil Mir'i Abun-Nasr. p. 51.
  4. ^ Merriam Webster's Collegiate Encyclopedia. p.574.
  5. ^ A History of the Maghrib in the Islamic Period by Jamil Mir'i Abun-Nasr. p. 52.
  6. ^ "The Encyclopedia of World History". Bartleby.com. 2001. pp. 1553–54. Archived from the original on 2008-01-18. http://web.archive.org/web/20080118030246/http://www.bartleby.com/67/823.html. Retrieved 2009-05-05.  
  7. ^ Morocco and the Ottomans: The Sixteenth Century in North Africa by Michael Brett p.334
  8. ^ Norman Stillman, The Jews of Arab Lands, 1979, pages 59, 284.
  9. ^ "::.. Oncf ..::". Oncf.ma. http://www.oncf.ma/Fr/index.aspx?md=199&rb=396. Retrieved 2009-05-05.  
  10. ^ The twinning was signed with the Palestinian Authority between Fes and Al-Quds. Morocco does not officially recognize Israel.
  11. ^ "Acordos de Geminação" (in Portugese). © 2009 Câmara Municipal de Coimbra - Praça 8 de Maio - 3000-300 Coimbra. http://www.cm-coimbra.pt/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=62&Itemid=128. Retrieved 2009-06-25.  
  12. ^ "Sister cities of İzmir (1/7)" (in Turkish). http://www.izmir-yerelgundem21.org.tr/kardes.htm. Retrieved 2008-11-01.  
  13. ^ "Kraków otwarty na świat". www.krakow.pl. http://www.krakow.pl/otwarty_na_swiat/?LANG=UK&MENU=l&TYPE=ART&ART_ID=16. Retrieved 2009-07-19.  

See also

  • Treaty of Fez
  • Book by Roger Le Tourneau (English translation by Besse Clement), Fez in the Age of the Marinides, Oklahoma University, editions 1961 and 1974 (latter ISBN 0806111984).
  • Article by Julian Vigo. "The Renovation of Fes’ medina qdima and the (re)Creation of the Traditional", Writing the City, Transforming the City, New Delhi: Katha, edition 2006.

External links

Preceded by
Aleppo
Capital of islamic culture
2007
Succeeded by
Alexandria, Djibouti, Lahore

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Fez article)

From Wikitravel

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

Understand

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

  • Royal Air Maroc offers daily flights from Casablanca London-Gatwick and Paris-Orly to Fes-Saiss airport.
  • Jet4You flies from Paris-Orly to Fez.
  • Ryanair offers flights from Girona (Barcelona), Frankfurt (Hahn), Milano (Bergamo), Charleroi (Brussels), Marseille, Seville and Alicante to Fez, though not on a daily basis.

By train

There is regular train service along the Marrakech to Oujda and Tangier to Oujda train lines.

From Marrakech, the trip is about eight hours and fifteen minutes and costs exactly 276/180 dirhams. (First class / second class)

The trip from Casablanca takes about 4 hours and costs 155/103 dirhams. (First class / second class)

From Rabat takes about two and a half to three hours, and costs 75-105 dirhams.

In summer, train compartments can be hot, with passengers standing everywhere when all seats are taken. There is no air conditioning, no fan, and most windows cannot be opened.

Be aware that there are hustlers operating on trains into Fez. See the Stay Safe and Cope sections, below.

A petit taxi between the train station and Bab Boujeloud costs about 10Dh with taxi meter. Insist on using the meter, if necessary, say "khdm l-koontoor" (Work the counter) to the taxi driver.

By car

Fez is about 4 hours' drive by car from Casablanca. The stretch of toll highway from Rabat to Fez is in superb condition.

Traveling by grand taxi (inter-city taxi), though more expensive than trains, is viable for tourists. Seats in a taxi are sold individually, in order to travel in relative comfort, you may need to purchase more than one seat. A ride from Fez to Casablanca costs approximately 60-80 dirhams per seat. Note that grand taxi fares are regulated and it is worth checking the official rates with the tourist board, as some drivers or hotels will quote inflated prices.

Within Fez, ride in the petits taxis (local taxis) rarely cost more that 15-20 dirhams. However, the medina of Fes el-Bali is only accessible from a few points by car. Bab Boujeloud and nearby Place Batha are popular dropoff points, as is Place R'cif; for parking there is spaces at Ain Zleten on the northeast edge of the medina. Another openair parking is situated near Hotel Batha (price 20 Dhs / day). If you stay longer than 1 day don't pay in advance.

By bus

The old bus terminal (gare routiere) is just outside the old city on the north side, near the Ain Zleten entrance to the medina and Bab Boujloud place. Grands taxis (inter-city taxis) can also be obtained here.

The CTM terminal (gare CTM) is in place Allal el-Fassi in the Atlas neighborhood of the ville nouvelle, 7 km from the medina, but has taxi stands nearby.

While the gare routière covers more routes more cheaply, many travelers prefer CTM for its reliability and cleanliness. Most CTM buses leaving Fes, anyway, start from the gare routière and make a stop in the gare CTM after 30min in the town traffic. CTM bus coming into Fes, at the contrary, will leave you at the gare CTM.

Map displaying the medina walking routes.
Map displaying the medina walking routes.

Ignore the travel guides that tell you that you'll get lost in the medina and that you must hire a guide. If you are particularly worried, be sure to arrange a licensed guide through your hotel or the tourism office - they will be able to give you an accurate history and will make fewer shopping stops. The faux-guides in particular will simply take you from shop to shop where you will be pressured to buy goods, which will cost you extra because the seller will be obliged to pay the guide a hidden commission.

There are some basic landmarks that you can use to get around, and there is a path network marked by signs perched on walls. These signs have a 8-point star shape which will guide you between the main places in the medina. If you are lost you only have to find one of these signs and follow it in any direction until you arrive to a map or a known place. You may also find it useful to carry a compass, as the narrow, built-up streets can block the view of landmarks and be disorienting. Alternatively, just keep heading downhill and you will eventually get to a gate. The main street is the Talaa Kbira, which runs from Bab Boujloud to the Karaouiyne mosque in the heart of the medina. The Talaa Sghira also begins at Bab Boujeloud and eventually merges back into the Talaa Kbira. Once you get into the narrow, windy heart of the medina, you can also find your way out again by constantly heading downhill, which will eventually lead to the Place R'cif, a dropoff for buses and taxis, where you can get a petit taxi out of the medina.

For more detailed tours and directions, look for the book Fez from Bab to Bab (Hammad Berrada). It has a complete map of the medina and several well-described walking tours. It can be found in most bookshops, both on the Talaa Sghira or at the large bookstore on the Avenue Hassan II in the ville nouvelle. However, be discreet taking out your map or you will have many offers from false guides!

Bab Boujeloud, the upper and main entrance to the medina.
Bab Boujeloud, the upper and main entrance to the medina.
Leather-dyeing pits in Fes.
Leather-dyeing pits in Fes.

Just walking around, you will see a great deal!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Similarly, the Qaraouyine library and mosque and the al-Tijani mosque have beautifully decorated exteriors and worth a visit even by those who cannot enter them.

Do

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

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

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

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

  • The Arabic Language Institute in Fez, +212 35 62 48 50 (fax +212 35 93 16 08, <info@alif-fes.com>), [1] offers high quality three-week and six-week courses in Arabic, both Modern Standard Arabic and the Moroccan colloquial language. The Institute can also arrange accommodation with a Moroccan host family for their students if required.
Tagines for sale in Fez.
Tagines for sale in Fez.
Some may consider Fez to be the handicraft capital of Morocco, but in reality the quality and value of its wares can be hit and miss. Leathergoods, copper and brassware are the bargains to be had, although you may also find good prices on drums and other musical instruments.

As a rough guide, you can expect to pay:

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

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

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

Eat

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

  • Mezzanine, 17, Kasbat Chams (In front of the jnaj sbil garden, less than 50 meters from the place Boujeloud), +21211078336, [2]. Set over three floors, with an additional outside patio, Mezzanine offers both a cosy lounge bar for a quiet cocktail tapas as well as a comfortable larger seating area for dinners and parties. With wi fi, Mezzanine transforms from a day time lounge into one of Fez most cosmopolitan dinner, music and venues. The tapas lounge bar has a resident DJ and serves great tapas, salads and desserts.  edit
  • L'Ambre (2001), Riad Fes, 5Derb Ben Slimane Zerbtana, +212 35 74 12 06, [3]. In the heart of a medieval city known for its diverse savory eateries, L'Ambre offers a dining experience that should not be missed when visiting Fez. A delightful selection of Moroccan cuisine with an original twist is served in any of our three dining rooms, in the garden or on the roof terrace.  edit
  • Le Kasbah (near Bab Boujloud). Friendly service, a solid selection of inexpensive Moroccan staples (excellent vegetarian tagine) and a couple of lovely high terraces overlooking the Gate on one side and the medina on the other. It is a comfortable atmospheric place to chat to other travellers and its a welcome haven from the bustle of the crowded streets of the medina. Street food is allowed to eat at the terraces. You pay only the service for the drink.
  • Fez Lounge[4], 95, Zkak Rouah- Tala Kbira, tel +212535633097. Down the Tala Kbira, on a tiny street on your right)or F Lounge; is the new addition to the medina scene. With walls in dark grey tadelakt and an ambiance of an ultra contemporary Arab dream, Fez Lounge is highly recommended for its Mediterranean inspired tapas such as Camembert bruschetta with walnuts and balsamic vinegar or for its reputed warm brownie with chocolate. Traditional Moroccan dishes like Pastilla and tajines are also available. Owned by an Italian, you can feel its style from the design of the tables to the dim lighting or the Hotel Costes Music.
  • Café Medina (near Bab Boujloud). Tasty and cosy café-style restaurant, however it can get too touristy. Food is fine, specially the "boricuas" (deep fried thin dough layers wrapping meat-chicken-rice fillings). Mains starting at 60dh.
  • Restaurant Bouinania (near Bab Boujloud). Enjoy lunch on the terrace or a leisurely dinner on the carpet-adorned second floor. The service is very friendly and more than willing to fire up the grill to make you the first brochettes of the day. Tagine, couscous, and other staples are well-done and offered for around 40 dh, but prices are negotiable down to 25 dh.
  • Le Kasbah (Bab Boujloud) has 2 nice terraces, a set menu or a la carte dishes. If you're tired of potatoes everywhere, try the grilled lamb chops and ask the waiter to change the french fries and rice for salad. Great for lunch!
  • Cafe Clock (near Bab Boujloud) Magnificently restored house in the old medina turned into a cafe. The people are friendly (and speak English) and the food is excellent. Ask to be seated on the terrace, and listen for the call to prayer coming from several minarets in the area. Bring a camera, especially during the day.

Ville Nouvelle

  • Casa Nostra - For pizza, you can try this Italian restaurant, 1 block from Hasan II and Mohammed V.
  • Le Palais de Fes - Also known as Dar Tazi (Place R'cif). A rooftop restaurant over a carpet shop, Dar Tazi offers Fez's best pastilla and other traditional dishes. The stairs up are steep and narrow and dinner runs about 350dh per person, but the food and view are well worth it.
  • Palais des Merinides (Talaa Kbira). Table d'hote menus with basic Moroccan specialties in a very grand setting. Mediocre quality, but fabulous surroundings.
  • San Remo Fed up with couscous and tajine? Then you could try this Morocco owned Italian restaurant in the new part of town. Just opposite the police station, it offers a lovely Italian deli and numerous pasta and pizza dishes for a decent price.
  • Dar Saada Restaurant [5] Located in the centre of the medina, this restaurant is a favorite of Travel and Leisure magazine and is worth the indulgence.
  • L'Ambre: [www.restaurantfes.com], Located in the heart of the medina, it offers an elegant and superior dining experience in all of Morocco. Serving up Moroccan cuisine with innovative twists, food is served in one of three rooms, including a spectacular terrace.

Drink

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

  • The Bar at Hotel Batha Place Batha. In the rear of Hotel Batha are two bars - the first is more of a lounge, with comfortbale leather chairs and fireplaces. It is definitely the more stately of the two options. In the rear is a night-club type bar that is mostly empty and rarely open.
  • Restaurant International, The Car Park at Av. Abdellah Chefchawni. This little place is easy to overlook, but the fact that the outer windows are mirrored should be the first indication it won't be at the top of any tourist routes. The crowd here is all local, and foreigners might expect a few stares and side looks. They serve the basic selection of beer, as well as some of the best spaghetti and pizza in town. Three stories, but avoid the middle one - the band is usually blasting bad synthesizer-Arabic music. Also avoid the basement, unless you're looking for prostitutes.
  • The White Souk / Marche Centrale, on Blvd Mohammed V is a good place to find alcohol if you prefer to drink at home. There are two brick-and-mortar liquor stores on either side of the Souk, and many of the vendors inside keep descrete stashes for thirsty foreigners.
  • Mezzanine, [6]. Set over three floors, with an additional outside patio,Mezzanine offers both a cosy lounge bar for a quiet cocktail tapas as well as a confortable larger seating area for dinners and parties. Fully wifi d, Mezzanine transforms from a day time lounge into one of Fez most cosmopolitan dinner, music and venues with it s resident dj. Open from 12 until 02 pm non stop. Enjoy a coktail, beer or wine on the terrace. It s really unique  edit
  • L'Alcazar Bar, Riad Fes, 5 Derb Ben Slimane Zerbtana, [7]. After a high-energy day in the Medina, L'Alcazar Bar is a comfortable oasis of relaxation and refreshment, the perfect backdrop for a memorable moment with friends and family. A stylish lounge area where stunning design is combined with a warm atmosphere exuding an oriental yet contemporary feel. The lounge bar and fumoir feature a vast choice of cocktails, malt, cognac, wines but also a selection of cigars.  edit
  • RIAD VERUS, 1 DERB ARSET BENNIS, BATHA, FES MEDINA, this traditional Riad has a room designed especially with the budget traveller in mind. 3 beds in spacious beautiful room with ensuite bathroom, flat screen tv, air con, heating unit, ipod dockin station....only 25€ per person includes a wholesome breakfast. The Riad is in the safest Medina neighbourhood, excellent ambience, friendly staff, Berber Jiama to chill out in the terrace with panoramic views of the Medina. www.riadverus.com tel 00212 (0) 535741040. Other suites from 70€ upwards for a double or twin bed.
  • Camping Diamant Vert,Rue Ain Chkef. Decent amount of shade, french toilets and (sometimes warm) showers. 25 Dh a person, 15 Dh per tent. Free access to the swimming pool.
  • HI youth hostel (Albergue Juvenil), 18 Rue Abdeslam Serghini, tel 035.624085. Clean, bright, friendly and well placed in the ville nouvelle. Unfortunately there is a debilitating 10 pm curfew and a five hour lockout. Dorms / twins with shared bath from Dh 45 / Dh 55, plus Dh 5 surcharge for non HI members.
  • Hotel Cascades, 26 rue Serrajine (near Bab Boud Jeloud - main gate) in the Medina, tel +212 35 638 442. The rooms are clean, noisy and simple. Shared bathrooms on the first and second floor, free hot shower on the first. A double costs 160 dh / night (70Dh a small single), this makes it cheaper than the youth hostel with a better location and no lockout, and therefore attracting a clientele of young backpackers and solo tourists looking for travel companions. Most backpackers would love to sleep on the terrace for 40 Dh: the hostel will provide for mattresses and blankets, and the view of the medina roofs under the stars is magic; backslash could be 5:00 am calls to prayer waking you up, 6:00 am light, summer midday heat and lack of space during the day (best seasons to sleep on the terrace would therefore be spring and fall); security concerns should be solved by the constant presence of M. Roshd and his various helpers, who guards the area all day long, preventing touts and thieves to enter. The little restaurant on the terrace also offer a gorgeous breakfast (milk-coffee, local pancakes, croissants and mint tea, for 25Dh), local dishes for meal (50Dh), and waterpipe (shisha) on soft sofas.
  • Hotel Erraha (near Bab Boud Jeloud - main gate) in the Medina. Ugly and noisy, not absolutely clean but could serve for a night if you don't find another place, 100 Dhs. One of the employees, Mohammad, is a good man, and will gladly tell you about the history of Fes, and help you out if you need anything.
  • There are a few more hostels near the main gate walking down any of the two parallel main streets, but not many of them. Try to arrive well before dark. The streets beyond the two main ones can be frightening at night.
  • Pension Batha, (100-250 Dhs) 8 Sidi Lkhayat Batha, Fax: 05-574-1150, just across from Hotel Batha, around the corner from Bab Boud Ganoush. It has limited rooms, and fills up quickly, but they are clean and include private bathroom. It comes with breakfast on a nice (but small) terrace on the top floor. Double Room with bathroom 250 Dhs. Breakfast very simple but OK. Ask for Laila (English spoken).
  • Hotel Rex, 32 Machra bel Ksiri (near place Atlas), tel. 035.642133, 100 Dh for a double room in the Ville Nouvelle, near the Gare CTM.
  • Hotel Volubilis, 42 Abdellah Chefchaouni, tel 035.620463, 80 Dh for a double, 120 Dh for apartments for 3-4 people. Bed bathrooms (cold shower, just over the toilet).
  • Dar Bennis: traditional 18th century house (riad) in the Medina for vacation or holiday rental for up to five people, starting at 80 euros for entire house. This website [8] also has lots of information about Fez museums, architecture, restaurants, real estate & monuments.
  • Hotel Batha: (near Bab Boud Jeloud beside Post Office) Tourist Hotel in font of Pension Batha. Almost full. About 520 Dhm for double room with bathroom. The price is very high for the quality. The outside of the hotel is great but the room are very basic and old. Just around the corner towards the Bab Bajeloud is an internet café run by a couple of very nice guys who speak English and will be more than willing to give you some insights on the best places to visit and explore in the city. The price for the internet café is 10 DH/h
  • ChezMaMounia - Bed And Breakfast, (34-55 USD) [9] Avenue Saint Louis, Tel: 06-68076175, Behind Hotel Jnan Fes Palace. For those who want to discover or rediscover the magic city of Fez with an authentic Moroccan family.
  • Lounge House:rentinfez.com A traditional Masriya (house for the elder son of the family, profusely decorated) with a contemporary twist. Its up for vacation or holiday rental for up to four people, starting at 90 euros night for the entire house. Interesting links in the website containing much needed info about what to do in Fez.

Splurge

There are a growing number of beautiful, comfortable guest-houses ("riads") in the medina of Fes el-Bali. They are expensive by Moroccan standards but offer luxury for about the price of a North American chain hotel. Some European proprietors prey on Westerners' culture-shock to direct business toward favored or overpriced services, so it is worth doing your research before going.

  • Riad Fes (2001), 5 Derb Ben Slimane Zerbtana, +212 35 94 76 10, [10]. checkin: 2.00PM; checkout: 12.00PM. Riad Fes is renowned for its luxury, impeccable service and fine restaurant.Its Andalous pavilion and lounge have brought an even more vibrant edge to Fez’s most stylish Riad. With spectacular views of the Medina and the Atlas Mountains, Riad Fez is ideal for those travelling for business or pleasure.  edit
  • Riad Tizwa, 15 Derb Gurebba , Batha, +212 66190872 London +447973238444, [11]. Riad Tizwa is Morocco's FIRST recognised environmental riad (by Clef Verte) a traditional Moroccan home in the heart of the medina. Five double bedrooms and English speaking staff makes for good service. Easy to find in the best area of the old town of Fes, the riad has wonderful freshly made breakfasts, a lovely roof terrace to relax on, and nice touches like handmade soap, rose petals, and a great selection of tasty Moroccan food.  edit
  • Riad Verus, 1 Derb Arset Bennis (Batha), 0653556552, [12]. checkin: 12.30; checkout: 11.30. Riad Verus opened its doors on 1st December and is the brain child behind Nor and Nora (young Moroccan/ English couple who met and fell in love and got married recently in Fes). Between them they speak 7 languages and are very tourist savy and will bend over backwards to ensure you enjoy your stay and are safe. All rooms have flat screen tvs, ipod plug ins, wifi, air con, heating and are ensuite, 2 with jacuzzis. The Riad has been beautifully restored with original mosaics, cedar wood designs and specialist plastering and meets all the new legal safety requirements for Hotel operation. The Riad has a large salon, coffee bar, restaurant, massage room, chill out pod, amazing 360 degree panoramic views of the Medina from their roof terrace which has been set up Nikki Beach Lounge style with Berber live music twice a week. The location is excellent, parking close by, around the corner from Ryad Sheherazade in the trendy neighbourhood. Yoga classes offered in the morning before breakfast and guiding offered by the team of carefully chosen fun official guides. They also have a dorm room for only 25 Euros a night ensuite for the budget traveller who wants to stay in style at an affordable price and meet other like minded people. 80 €.  edit
  • Riad Fes, 5* Guesthouse with Traditional and Modern Decoration
  • Riad Yacout' [13]. Riad Yacout is a fassi house in the medina restored on the norms and of tradition by the artisans of Fez.
  • Riad Arabesque' [14]. Traditional hotel.

Stay safe

Fez is safe, but crowded. Take standard precautions regarding wallet, purse, etc. If you hear "Belek! Belek!" behind you, stand aside because a heavily-laden donkey is bearing down on you! Appear to know where you are going, even if you don't, or you will get offers from false guides. False guides are not dangerous but they can be exasperatingly tenacious. Best technique is to not even acknowledge their presence. That is rude and they won't be pleased, but it is better than to have them walk with you for half an hour. If you have to ask directions ask to someone that is obviously busy in his own business and try to appear as sure as you can of the way you are going ("This way to R'cif, right?"). Getting caught with a faux guide will cost you, but it will cost the faux guide more: they can receive up to 2 days imprisonment if they get caught. Cops are often in plain clothes, so be wary! A useful strategy with false guides is to say all the lines they have been taught before they have said them to show you know what you are doing; they all say the same thing so just learn it and repeat.

You should also beware of hustlers (aka con-artists); Fez has a far larger number of them than almost everywhere else and they use more sophisticated techniques. An example of a prominent scam occurs where you come into Fez by train and someone talks to you saying he is coming to visit his relatives, and is actually a respectable outsider (e.g. an owner of a hotel). He will then ask you to come eat with his relatives and when you get there they will spend most of the time trying to suggest accommodation, offering you tours where they gain commission from all the (especially Carpet) shops, and even organize expensive desert excursions that are actually just you driving in circles just outside the city for three days.

Cope

Beware of people at the train/bus station, which introduce you to their "cousins" or "brothers" from a Western country. The "cousin" or "brother" will claim to come to Fes to purchase carpets and sell them in the West for several times their purchase price. This is part of a complex scam as such people are actually employed by the carpet company. The pushy carpet sellers will offer mint tea and then ask for your credit card. Carpet companies involved in this scam are Dar Hannan and Dar Essaad in the Fes Medina.

For a North American traveller, Fez requires a real change of outlook or it will be a very high-stress trip! Shopkeepers and guides are very assertive and you will have to get used to saying "no" a lot. On the other hand, they can be genuinely warm and friendly even while trying to sell you something, an idea that is pretty alien to North Americans where it is assumed that a business relationship is the opposite of sincerity!

Non-Muslims are not allowed to visit mosques, although they can visit the medersas (religious schools).

Bargaining is a way of life that has survived for centuries, and shows no sign of changing. Moroccans even bargain among each other for everything except perhaps their utilities. Don't believe anyone (and you will hear it all the time) who tells you prices are being "regulated". Every other souk claims to be a "Government Regulated Co-op".

There is a single, genuine government-regulated fixed price shop in the Ville Nouvelle where all prices are posted, the goods are of decent (if not amazing) quality, and the single bored cashier will just stare incredulously at you if you attempt to bargain with him. Ask any hotel manager or petit taxi driver to take you to the "Artisana." All products sold in Artisanas come directly from the artists who made the products.

The ancient Roman site of Volubilis.
The ancient Roman site of Volubilis.
A visit to the ancient Roman site of Volubilis is a must. This crumbling yet spectacular city has stunning mosaics on offer, and you can easily spend a couple of hours ambling through the ruins. There are organised coach tours running from Fes, however the more intrepid budget traveller can make this journey on their own by catching the train from Fes to Meknes and then a couple of 'collective' taxis to the picturesque historic town of Moulay Idriss then on from there to Volubilis. This is approx a 1/4 of the price of the organised tours and provides far more opportunity for adventure.

Alternatively, Meknes itself is worth a visit, if only due to its calmer and less crowded medina, which has ample shopping opportunities.

From the Gare Routière, you can leave by bus for almost any direction in North Morocco. Buses are usually crappy (old, rusty, and without lights), with the exception of CTM company, which offers European-quality service, for a double price then the Moroccan standard, but usually including the 5-10Dh required for transporting luggage (malletas), and not being overcrowded. People use to come to the station in the morning to book their ticket for the afternoon or the day after, and collecting stickers for luggage, so beware about showing up at the last minute and not finding place.

At the station, touts will try to sell you tickets for Chefchaouen if you look like a western tourist coming for smoke. Avoid them.

  • CMT leave for the main destinations (Marrakesh, Rabat, Tangier, Tetouan, Oujda, Nador). Going from Fez to Rissani (Merzouga is another 30km taxi ride after Rissani) there is one CTM bus a day, leaving the Fez bus station at 9pm.
  • Other companies serve any town and village in nord and center Morocco; deaparting hours are shown over the counters, but may change from one day to another, so be sure to ask to the employee.

You can leave Fes by train in the direction of Tanger (~5 hrs; 97dh/145dh) or towards Marrakech (~7 hrs; 180dh/276dh; passing by Rabat and Casablanca).

This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!

Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

English

Noun

Fes

  1. Plural form of Fe.

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