Wednesday, 2 June 2021

Fes: City Guide

 Located in gorgeous Morocco, Fes (also referred to as Fez), has long been considered the spiritual and intellectual epicenter of the country. Fes is considered the Arab capital of Morocco while its sister city, Meknes, is considered the Berber capital. Several incredible sights can be seen in Fez, including the oldest university in the West, a large functioning medieval quarter, and a wide variety of stunning architectural displays. The city is contemporary yet mysterious – and well worth exploring.


WHEN TO VISIT FES


Fes - Fes el Bali - Riding through Bab Boujeloud


The weather in Fes traditionally alternates between extremes. The rainy season usually occurs between the middle of March and October. If you don’t like rain, don’t visit during this time of the year. The rain will last for days on end, followed by a week or more of simply drizzly weather. There are very few days during the rainy season with no precipitation at all.



Let me show you the best of Morocco food: on the way from Fes to Chefchaueon


The months of June, July, and August are hot, with temperatures hovering around 90 degrees Fahrenheit (30 Celsius). Temperatures during December, January, and February usually hover right around freezing.


The best time of year to visit is during the spring or autumn. During these times of year you’ll find gorgeous temperatures, beautiful flowers, and bearable accommodations. Most of the homes and hotels in Fez are open-air, making them perfect for warm weather but chilly and difficult to heat during the winter months.


TRANSPORTATION THROUGHOUT FES



You can generally explore most of Fes, and the neighboring Meknes, by foot. Neither section of the city is large, and most of the most popular attractions are located within close proximity of each other.



Fes, the Old Medina (oldest section from 9th c.)


If you are traveling to Fes during the summer months you will, of course, want to travel by taxi or bus to avoid the heat. Most of the taxis (usually small, red vehicles) are inexpensive. If the taxi driver picks up another party, both will pay full fare (you don’t split it). Drivers in Fes, especially taxi drivers, are a bit reckless in their quest to get from point A to point B as fast as they can.



Fes - Fes el Bali - Tanner's Quarter 3


Fes does have a public bus system, but it is generally not safe for tourist. The buses are always crowded and pickpockets are prevalent. You are often better off sticking with a taxi, even though the bus costs slightly less.


HEALTH AND SAFETY IN FEZ


Fes - Fes el Bali - Medresa Bou Inania


The city of Fes is considered a very safe place to visit. There are, however, a few things you need to keep in mind as you explore.


First, be aware of petty crime. Keep your purse and wallet in a safe place, as pick pocketing is very common. If you are traveling at night, you should consider taking a taxi cab back to your Fes hotel.


Keep a low profile while you are in the city. Dress respectfully and conservatively and avoid any demonstrations you may see forming on the street. Remember that Morocco is, for all intensive purposes, a Muslim nation. As such, if you do drink, make sure your alcohol indulgence is kept to a minimum. Being drunk while in public is considered a very serious offense.


SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS FOR FEMALE TRAVELERS IN FES


In our Muslim clothes in a store in Fez


Because Fes is located in a Muslim nation, there are a few things females in particular need to do to avoid drawing attention to themselves. This, for the most part, means dressing in a very conservative manner.


Ignore any tips that claim you should not wear sandals while in Morocco. It’s hot there, and even local women wearing headscarves wear them.


Modest clothing is, on the other hand, important. You’ll notice that most local women do not wear headscarves, so you as a tourist should not feel obligated to wear one. Do not wear clothes that are revealing, especially if you have large breasts. Stick to loose fitting cotton or linen garments – they’ll keep you cool during the summer months.  If you are at your hotel, bikinis, bathing suits, and tank tops are acceptable – you are not considered to be “in public.”


As a woman, you may receive several odd advances. Just ignore them. Men will stare and some will make comments. Some may offer you a “berber massage,” which is slang for having intercourse. Don’t be offended or start a scene. If you reply at all, stick to “Seer,” which means “go away,” or say “Hashouma,” which means “shame on you.”


SPEAKING ARABIC OR FRENCH IN FES


In front of the Fez imperial palace


The main language in Fes is Arabic but you will find some people, especially those who come into contact with tourists on a regular basis, do speak French as well. Here are a few phrases, in both Arabic and French, that may help you to communicate:


Choukran – Thank You (Arabic)

Merci  – Thank You (French)

Salam – Hello (Arabic)

Minfatlika – Plaese (Arabic)

La bas? – How are you? (Arabic)

Naam   – Yes (Arabic)

Marhba bikoum  – You are welcome (Arabic)

Vous Etes les bienvenus  – You are welcome (French)

Your trip to Fes will be on you remember for years to come. Relax and enjoy your journey!

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