Nothing quite prepares you for Fes. The world’s only intact medieval city, Fes is a teeming warren of narrow lanes, blind alleys and fondouks where you’re too busy trying to keep up with what’s happening around you to reach for your camera and where getting lost is all part of the adventure. Nearby Meknes is another old imperial city, with grandiose architecture dating from the time of Sultan Moulay Ismaïl
...continued from Fes & Meknes page.
Descending into the medina of old Fes for the first time, it can be hard to believe that the sights are real. Was that boy carrying a hawk on his shoulder? Are those testicles in that butcher’s shop? Are those half-naked men really stamping up and down in a trough of blue dye in the boiling sun? When is the director going to shout ‘cut’?
In this hallucinatory world of donkeys, hooded figures and hole-in-the-wall shopkeepers, your senses go on high alert. One minute you get a whiff of cloves, or the scent of fresh mint; the next you’re overwhelmed by the stench of pigeon excrement from the tanneries. Here there are no motorbikes, no cars, none of the sounds of the modern world (unless you count the ever-present mobile ringtone). It is a vast, 24-hour a day, 7-day a week cavalcade from which you will emerge drained and exhilarated.
A short distance away, in the heart of Morocco’s wine-producing region, is the sleepy city of Meknes. Meknes was the capital of Morocco under the infamous 18th century sultan, Moulay Ismaïl. Slaves laboured night and day for 50 years to build an imperial showpiece to rival Versailles. Those that died on the job, it is rumoured, were entombed in the city walls.
As well as being an agreeable place to spend a day or two, Meknes makes a handy base for an excursion to the Roman ruins of Volubilis. Although much of the stone from Volubilis was carted off for the construction of Meknes, the arches, buildings and mosaics give you a good idea of what life was like in the Roman province of Mauretania Tingetiana.
The Lawrence of Morocco map displays the locations of the destinations and accommodation that we have selected and visited; for each item, hovering over or clicking the marker will display a short summary and photo of that place or hotel, and hotel pricing. Follow the links in the info box to the full page listing which has much more information.
Note that the online map offers both a satellite view (click satellite in the top right) and, for some locations, a street level view (Drag the person in the top left onto the map). These let you explore the country; and when you wish to explore in person, or if you have any questions about the places you see, give our staff a call, or request a quote. Our staff regularly visit the places and accommodation that we feature.
When you book a holiday with us we will provide full driving instructions for reaching your accommodation, where necessary; these can be used by yourself, or you could enjoy the luxury of a driver. Alternatively we will arrange private (car rather than coach) transfers for you; helicopter transfers are also possible for some destinations.
Lawrence of Morocco made this a very enjoyable.
Overall a great holiday:
Les Deux Tours - loved this hotel, food was excellent, service was ok, but could have been better, internet connection was sporadic. Superb setting.
Medina Treasures Tour - was too long for us, we didn't finish it til half one and it was a really hot day. Was interesting though and worth doing. Our guide Rashid ...
Freelance travel writer, Stephen Bayley, travelled to Fes with Lawrence of Morocco in April 2013, writing for the Independent.
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