Medina • Food • Nature  Music

Best time to visit

March to October


Ibtissam, our Fes-born host, had invited me to join her for her morning walk to the market. “This is a tour you will never forget, I know all the best shops,” she told me playfully, heightening my expectations. My husband had already warned me when we arrived late the previous evening that he would be sleeping in, delighting in every minute of this slow-paced Saturday morning. I had other plans in mind and immediately agreed to this insider’s experience of Fes’ old medina. 

As we walked down the narrow labyrinthine alleys of the ancient medina, dappled by morning sunlight, I followed closely behind Ibtissam and was reminded of childhood memories holding hands with my mother at our local market. We first stopped at the greengrocer, where we bought small oblong avocadoes. “This sort doesn’t have a stone, we use them to make juice with almonds.” No stone? It sounded like a perfect guacamole to me. We left with bags full of ripe quinces, scented bunches of mint and aromatic oranges we would eat with cinnamon for dessert. The spice shop, l’aatar in Arabic, was justly a few blocks away. The piles of colorful spices dazzled me. I learned about the ras-el-hanout (literally the “head of the shop”, meaning the best spices the store has to offer) and how every aatar supposedly has its own blend. We bought sachets of tagine basics: mild chili, cumin, coriander, cinnamon and ginger. At the neighboring shop, we tasted full-flavored olives, large local dates and dry fruits.

Though every Moroccan market offers these tasteful organic products, Fes stands out with several unique regional specialties. They can be hard to find but luckily for me, Ibtissam decided to introduce me to these new flavors. 

We walked up the street to her friend Si Mohammed. As we arrived, we found a long queue of locals milling before his shop, which is always a good indication of quality. Si Mohammed’s stall was overflowing with appetizing sweets.

And while waiting in this bustling store, we were able to try the chebakkia, rose-shaped pastries deep-fried, coated with honey and rosewater, and generously sprinkled with sesame seeds. I bought a box of khli, a local preparation of beef meat preserved in grease, which would perfectly lift my scrambled eggs back at home. Ibtissam ordered a dozen of sweet traditional breakfast pancakes. When we reached the Riad, my husband had just woken up and was delighted to devour several of those. While my appetite may have been satiated by the morning’s activities, my mind was bursting with ideas for the meals I could now prepare.


Learn more

• Condé Nast Traveler, The secret life of Fez
• Bloomberg, Why you need to visit Fes in 20 photos
• Travel + Leisure, Why to visit Fez in 2015
• World Sacred Music Festival


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