Relaxing on the flight was a heavenly start to our Moroccan break. We’d been away with each other sans Sonny for UK breaks, but not abroad, and it felt wildly romantic to order wine, share pretzels and browse the papers undisturbed. Like normal people.
Now a UNESCO World Heritage site, Fes Medina isn’t just a step back in time, it’s a giant leap to when the best way to transport things was on your head or the back of a mule, and chickens were bought live, not chilled and wrapped in clingfilm.
Mason and I were in town to experience part of the week-long Fes Festival of World Sacred Music, now in its 20th year. Both festival-lovers (we met at one) this event stood out due to its diversity, near-guaranteed sun and easygoing programme.
EXPLORE ON FOOT
We’d meander along the Medina’s main alleyway, Talaa Kebira, dodging donkeys, haggling for silver jewellery and taking pictures of stalls laden with spices, sticky dates and mounds of sweets.
The green-roofed Al Karaouine, the world’s oldest university.
Marinid Tombs, a nearby dusty, ochre-coloured hill. The view was spectacular, with the whole city spread out before us.
Dar Seffarine, a triangular souk lined with coppersmiths, with a second-floor Restaurant Seffarine.
Dar Batha, a stunning 19th century palace converted to a museum.
FES FESTIVAL OF WORLD SACRED MUSIC
The festival was chaotically fabulous. Gigs kicked off around midday, with bigger names between 4pm and 9pm.
We sat on handwoven rugs in the open air listening to Sufi chanting at midnight at Dar Tazi and were transported to another world by the powerful voice of Malian singer Rokia Traoré and the flute and drums of Indian gurus Rakesh Chaurasia and Zakir Hussain.
Where to eat
Be sure to check out Café Clock, owned by Brit, Michael Richardson. It’s where the city’s cool kids hang out and its roof terrace was an enchanting place to sip tea post-gig, nibble on tapas or just gaze at swifts swirling around the minaret of a mosque in the early evening light. Free wi-fi was a good excuse for checking in with the grandparents, too.
Where to stay
The romantic vibe continued when we reached Palais Amani, a converted Riad on the edge of Fes’s ancient Medina. This fourteen bedroomed opulent hotel boasts a salon and library, rooftop bar, extensive terraces and a traditional hammam and spa. The service is impeccable and it’s ideally located, a stone’s throw from the Medina’s Golden Triangle.
Our intricately tiled room opened onto an orange-tree filled courtyard, but best of all was the rooftop terrace with a tiny bar and views of the city and surrounding hillsides.
How to get there: Ryanair flies direct from Stansted to Fes from £65 return.
Where to stay: Rooms at Palais Amani cost from £130 a night.
Fes Festival of World Sacred Music: In 2015, the Fes Festival takes place from 22 to 30 May. Purchase a festival package with access to all gigs or a day pass.
Festival price: All gigs, £259; day pass, £53