INTO THE MEDINA
Flights from the UK arrive in FEZ in the early afternoon, so once you’ve dropped your bags off at your riad, there should still be enough time to get a taste of what life is like in Fez el Bali, the city’s incredible walled medina. A good place to start is BAB BOUJELOUD, the beautiful blue-tiled gateway that serves as the main entry point. Pass through its onion-domed archways and take the left fork across the café-filled square that greets you on the other side and you’re quickly engulfed in the tangle of alleyways that mark the southern end of TALÂA KEBIRA and the start of the medina proper. This is Fez el Bali’s main thoroughfare, which leads all the way down to the Kairaouine Mosque. For now, though, you can acclimatise with a stroll as far as the fondouks.
The top of Talâa Kebira is all juice stalls and live chickens – make sure your kids keep an eye out for the butcher who advertises his shop with a camel’s head! – but as you descend into the medina, you’ll start passing unmarked hammams, places selling traditional herbal cures or pickles, and carpets and hooded jellabas hanging across the street and pinned to every spare inch of wall space. Keep your kids close, as you might have to occasionally nip into a side alley to let a donkey and cart squeeze past. After about 500m, you’ll come to a couple of fondouks that once housed travelling merchants but are now the places to go for honey (FONDOUK QA’AT SMEN, on the left) and leather drums (FONDOUK TAZI, on the right further down the street). Not long after here, the mercantile SOUKS start in earnest, first with leatherworkers selling babouches (slippers) on Rue Cherabliyine then spice vendors trading in cinnamon and saffron on Souk el Attarine – a delicious scent that’ll have you longing for dinner.
TOP TIP Even with a map, you’re going to get a little bit lost at some point in Fez’s labyrinthine medina – which is all part of the experience. If you wanted a bit more help finding your way around at first, though, your riad or hotel will be able to organize a guide for you (around 300dh for a half-day tour).
WHERE TO EAT
This hip café-restaurant, signed down a dark alleyway near the top of Talâa Kebira, does tasty takes on Moroccan dishes such as lamb tagine and vegetable couscous, as well as sandwiches, salads and their signature Camel Burger – all best enjoyed, along with one of their almond ice-cream milkshakes, up on the lovely roof terrace. Films are shown twice a week in their diddy cinema (Monday & Saturday), and there’s a regular schedule of cultural events that includes traditional storytelling and oud concerts.
THE LIJOMA LOWDOWN
Delve deeper with our tips on what to read before you go, foods and drinks your kids must try, and some key cultural advice
From traditional dars to opulent riads – our pick of the most memorable places for families to stay in Fez
NEED TO KNOW
A handy overview of Fez’s weather and climate throughout the year, with recommendations for the best time to visit
Pre-trip practicalities, including getting there, visas and passports, health and safety and how to get around