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News / Photograph: Rennovation works on Fez Tanneries

We had seen that renovation works had started at the smaller Fez Medina Tannery sites, but we didn't realised that they had actually begun at the largest Chouwara Tanneries until one of our guests returned last week from a medina tour with the photograph below. The project seems to involve the leveling and complete rebuilding of the Chouwara, Sidi Mousa (Near Nejarine), and Dar Dabagh (in Ain Azleiten) tanneries. We have been told that the work will take about 5 months and will cost about €2m. All the tannery workers are being paid from the project funds for the duration of the renovations. There is also some works at the much smaller Dyers Souk near Bab Sid El Aoued in R'cif.

Chouwara Tanneries Works, Medina, Fez Morocco

Posted 06 February 2014


Photographs: River works in Rcif (click images for larger size)

The renovation project in Place Rcif started in 2009 and whereas most of the works have long since been completed, the part of the project that involved the opening up of the mostly covered Oued Boukhareb (river) have suffered serious delays. However last month coinciding with the visit of King Mohammed VI to Fez, many of the work barriers have been removed and the works seem to taken on additional vigour. This also coincides with the recommencement of, a little further on the river, the Place Lalla Yeddouna works.

The 2 photos below show the first uncovered part of the Boukhareb river in Pace Rcif, with a new bridge over to Mosque and the river continuing under Quantrat Tarrafine. There is also a new fountain just before the new bridge.
River Works, Rcif, Fez Morocco River Works, Rcif, Fez Morocco

The photos below show the area between the 2 old bridges of Quantrat Tarrafine and Quantrat Khrachfiyine. On the far left of the 1st pic you can just about see the new steps which will act as the entry point to the new river path.
River Works, Rcif, Fez Morocco River Works, Rcif, Fez Morocco

The 3 pics below show the path continuing beyond Quantrat Khrachfiyine to Bin Lamdoun/Lalla Yeddouna, with the 3rd pic giving an overview of the area with the minaret of Jamma Rcif mosque visible on the right with the new Bab Rcif to the left of it.
River Works, Rcif, Fez Morocco River Works, Rcif, Fez Morocco River Works, Rcif, Fez Morocco

Posted 07 December 2014



Photos: Eric Artz

Some photos from the Institut Francais' Eric Artz piano concert at Dar Batha this evening, where it was standing room only.

.Eric Artz

Eric Artz Eric Artz Eric Artz
Posted 22 November 2014

Photos: Our newly installed Tarma

The photos below show the newly installed tarma in one of our courtyard rooms. Tarma are decorative wooden screens that are often used as room dividers or fitted cupboards in traditional Moroccan homes, they were particularly prevalent in Jewish homes. This tarma had many coats of paint which were stripped back to the original cedar wood, and we had an additional panel made to fit the new room setting which was wider than the original tarma.

Tarma before cleaning Tarma being fitted

.Tarma in Courtyard room

Posted 21 November 2014


Exhibition: Artifacts of Ancient Egypt, Oct 08 - 15

Ryanair logoAn exhibition of Ancient Egyptian Artifacts takes place at the Gallery Kacimi from October 8th to 15th. The exhibition has copies of jewellery and other objects from ancient Egypt including some items from the tomb of the young King Tutankhamun. The displays include descriptions in both Arabic and English
Exhibition: Artifacts of Ancient Egypt, 08-15 October, Gallery Kacimi, Fez Morocco
Posted 08 October 2014



Photographs: July Concerts in Fez (click images for larger size)

Last weekend was a busy one for concerts in Fez with events on all 3 evenings.

18 July - Institut Francais' Ramadan Nights 1
On Friday we had the first of 2 Ramadan Nights concerts hosted by the Institute Francais at Dar Tazi. The evening opened with l’Association féminine du Patrimoine Musical  from Fez including a spot by the new young fassi singing star Nouhaila al Kalai (pictured below). The night was then headlined by the well known Algerian/Kabayle singer Idir who performed for almost 2 hours with many of his songs already known to the audience. In addition to being backed by an excellent band he was supported also by his daughter with whom he performed a couple of songs. On one song he played an instrument which he told the audience was a "flute irlandaise", it is of course more commonly known as a 'Tin Whistle' (see picture below)
Ramadan Nights, 18 July 2014, Fez, Morocco Idir playing a Tin Whistle, 18 July 2014, Fez MoroccoIdir & daughter, 18 July 2014, Fez Morocco Idir, 18 July 2014, Fez Morocco

19 July - Instituto Cervantes Fez, Flamenco & live Art
On Saturday it was over the the Hotel Barcelo for some Flamenco with live Art, inspired by the Conference of the Birds. A Spanish Flamenco Trio comprising Sara Holgado (Voice), Pablo Martínez (Guitar), &  Paco Chorobo (Percussion) performed while a collage was created live by artist Violeta Caldrés and projected onto a screen behind the performers. As usual a quality musical performance from the Instituto Cervantes. the solo Guitar piece was particularly impressive.
Birds sing Flamenco, 19 July 2014, Fez Morocco Paco Chorobo, Birds sing Flamenco, 19 July 2014, Fez Morocco.Sara Holgado, Birds sing Flamenco, 19 July 2014, Fez Morocco Pablo Martínez, Birds sing Flamenco, 19 July 2014, Fez Morocco Birds sing Flamenco, 19 July 2014, Fez Morocco Birds sing Flamenco, 19 July 2014, Fez Morocco Birds sing Flamenco, 19 July 2014, Fez Morocco

20 July - Ramadan Nights 2
Then on Sunday night we had the second of the 2 Ramadan Nights concerts at Dar Tazi. Well known Fassi singer Marouane Hajji and his group opened the evening. His mostly religious singing went down well with a wealthier Fassi crowd. We then had Algerian folk singer Souad Massi and Flamenco guitarist Eric Fernandez who along with their ensemble performed the Choeurs de Cordue spectacle a type of Arabic/Spanish/French fusion. The performance was interupted by Massi saying that she was feeling ill and having to leave the stage for a while. The evening's crowd was like Friday night made up of well heeled younger Fassis, and their dismissive attitude seemed to slightly annoy Massi who even struggled to get them to stay quiet for a minute's silence for Gaza.
Marouane Hajji, 20 July 2014, Fez Morocco Marouane Hajji, 20 July 2014, Fez Morocco Souad Massi, Eric Fernandez,Sabrina Romero, 20 July 2014, Fez Morocco Alexandre Leauthaud, Choeurs du Cordoue, 20 July 2014, Fez Morocco Souad Massi, Eric Fernandez, 20 July 2014, Fez Morocco
Posted 24 July 2014


Ramadan Nights 2014: Institut Francais de Fes & Instituto Cervantes present 3 Concerts at Dar Tazi

ramadan Nights, 3 Concerts at Dar Tazi, Batha, 18, 19, 20 July 2014, Fez Morocco
This week the Institut Francais de Fes return with the their second year of their Ramadan Nights concert series with 3 performances at Dar Tazi.
July 18, IDIR, Singer/Songwriter IDIR (Hamid Cheriet) of Berber origin from Haute-Kabylie Algeria performs his personal songs to traditional melodies.
July 19
, Flamenco Art and poetry: The Conference of the Birds. Farid Ud-din Attar. Collaboration between Art & Flamenco. Performers; Violeta Caldrés (Artist), Sara Holgado (Flamenco Singer), Pablo Martínez (Guitar), Paco Chorobo (Percussionist). Sponsored by the Instituto Cervantes.
July 20, Souad Massi et Eric Fernandez (Chœurs de Cordoue). Massi and Fernandez bring their voice and guitar to creative a sound of 10th century medieval Cordoba, in Al Andalus. They will be supported by Sabrina Romero, (dance), Alexander Leauthaud (accordion), José Cortes (percussion) and Rabah Kalfa (derbouka).

All concerts take place at 22h (10pm) at Dar Tazi, Sid El Khayat, Batha, Fes Medina. The Institute Francais say that admission is by Invatation Only, and these are obtainable from theIr offices near La Fiat in the Nouvelle Ville.
Posted 13 July 2014



Clocks/Time Change for Ramadan 2014:

Time in Morocco

The clocks in Morocco go back 1 hour tomorrow night, at 3am on Saturday 28 June, in preparation for Ramadan which is expected to begin on on 28th or 29th June. This brings Moroccan time in line with GMT, ie. 1 hour behind UK/Por/Ire and 2 hours behind CET. This will bring sunset forward by 1 hour, therefore making F'tour (breaking of the fast) earlier. Clocks will return to summertime (GMT +1 hour) after Ramadan, at 2am Saturday 2nd August.
Posted 27 June 2014



Photographs: Melilla (click images for larger size)

Melilla, is a small spanish enclave just outside Nador on Morocco's Mediterranean coast. Last week we took a quick trip from Fez to Melilla, there are 2 direct trains a day from Fez to Beni Nzar Port, a 6 hour journey, and from there it is only about 2 minutes walk to the border. Once you cross into Spain a bus (€0.85) runs from the border into Melilla centre.
Melilla, Sailing & Fishing Equipment Shop Melilla, Fort, Lighthouse Melilla, Marina
Melilla has some lovely modernist architecture, some akin to early 20th Century Barcelona. It also has a magnificent old fort and old town (originally Melilla was just this fortified area), parts of which have been converted into Museums and Art Galleries. Of interest to us was the newish Lidl supermarket where we were able to stock up on some spanish specialities including chorizo & jamon serano. Melilla is also a duty free area so alcohol is available at very reasonable prices.

Melilla, Park Melilla, Studded Door Melilla, Munipal building frontage.

Posted 10 June 2014



Travel News: Ryanair launch new route Madrid to Fez

Ryanair logo, Ryanair madrid to Fez starts 28 October 2014Ryanair have announced that they will recommence their Madrid to Fez flight. The route was cancelled in 2011 along with the Alicante/Fez and Seville/Fez routes. This will bring the number of Ryanair routes into Fez up to 16, making them the biggest airline operating into Fes-Saiss airport.

The Madrid to Fez flights will commence on 28 October 2014 and will be twice weekly on Tuesdays and Saturdays.
Posted 27 April 2014




Photographs: Nature from Mount Zalagh 1 & 6 April 2014 (click images for larger size)

3 Photos below show Mount Zalagh south side, Moroccan Orange Tip Butterfly foraging on Broad Bean (Fava/Ful) and a pair of Barbary Partridges.

Mount Zalagh south side, Fez Morocco Moroccan Orange Tip Butterfly, on Broad Bean (Fava/Ful) Plant, Mount Zalagh, Fez Morocco Barbary partridge Pair, Mount zalagh, Fez Morocco

2 Photos below show Griffon Vultures circling the eastern end of Mount Zalagh
Griffon Vultures, Mount Zalagh, Fez Morocco Griffon Vultures, Mount Zalagh, Fez Morocco

Photos below show (l to r), Great Grey Shrike, a camouflaged Grasshopper, Thekla Lark
Great Grey Shrike, Mount Zalagh, Fez Morocco Grasshopper, Mount Zalagh, Fez Morocco Thekla Lark, Mount Zalagh, Fez Morocco

Some photos from walks on Mount Zalagh in early April 2014. Griffon Vultures are regular visitors to Zalagh and in past visits we have seen the rarer Egyptian Vultures. The recent visits also yielded sightings of Kites and a Black-Crowned Tchagara, also plenty of Alpine Swifts, Chaffinches, Green Finches, and a Corn Bunting singing from a tree top. April also the emergence of lots of Butterflies with some large yellow Swallowtails being particularly impressive.
Click here to book a walking tour to Mount Zalagh
Posted 07 April 2014



Fez Foods: Sugar Cane Juice in Rcif

Sugar Cane Juice in Rcif, Dar Aquas, Fez Morocco Sugar Cane Juice in Rcif, Dar Aquas, Fez Morocco Sugar Cane Juice in Rcif, Dar Aquas, Fez Morocco

Every year, as the sugar cane harvest starts and weather begins to warm, this machine appears just next to Bab Sid L'Aoud.  The sugar cane stems are fed into the ‘machine’ and cane juice (Asir L'kasim Soocar) magically appears out the front.  Honey Bees seem to like the juice and swarm around the machine, although they seem to do this at any stall selling sweet items, such as the nougat sellers near the Kairouine entrance.  A full standard mug (see pic) takes about 2 stems to fill and you can have a lemon slice added with the second stem to give more flavour to the very sweet liquid.  A glass of this delicious juice usually costs around 5 dirham. Very good value.
Posted 28 March 2014



Fez Souk: Orange Flower water ingredients and equipment Orange Blossom, Rcif, Fez Morocco

As some of the wide avenues in Fez new town (La Ville) fill with the fragrance of orange blossom, so do the baskets of the blossom sellers in the Medina souks. In spring in Fez, fresh orange blossom is often used as an additional flavouring in tea, but it is mainly used to distill the aromatic orange water which is used as food flavouring and for fragrance.  At Dar Aquas we are currently using the buds to provide a natural fragrance in the courtyard. 

This stall holder in the nearby Rcif Souk had until recently been selling solely the delicious winter mandarins & clementines. However as they have just gone out of season he has switched  to orange blossom and the various items needed in the production of orange water, ie. stills made from copper and aluminium and some bottles.  He is also selling actual orange flower water, fresh Chamomile (not in photo) and what was possibly small bags of Service Tree fruit.
Posted 26 March 2014



Photos: Delivery of new tanning barrels to Chaouara Tanneries in Fez Medina

Here are some photos of new tanning barrels being delivered to the Chaouara Tanneries in Fez medina this week. We usually see photos of the tanneries showing the many colourful pits, however these pits are for some pre and post tanning activities such as liming and dyeing, but the actual tanning is done in the big barrels.

New Tanning Barrels, Chaouara Tanneries Fez Medina New Tanning Barrels, Chaouara Tanneries Fez Medina

Fes Tanneries PitsOld Tanning Barrel at Ain Azleiten tanneries Fez Morocco

Posted 23 March 2014



Crafts: Exposing the artisans of Fez – ‘Art de Fes’ Boucherouite workshop

Boucherouite workshopWe recently visited a design workshop held by Jess Stephens of Culture Vultures for the newly formed Art de Fes women's craft co-operative. These artisans, highly skilled in the various traditional textile arts, and largely working at home until now, have come together to create a new craft co-op.  
The workshop was to help them design a collection of boucherouite items for an exhibition at Cafe Clock which will open on International Women's Day 08 March 2014, a percentage of the proceeds will go towards the Culture Vultures Exposé Artisanal Project. Boucherouite work uses scraps of fabric and wool often left over from the more traditional textile arts, and the items made display a great deal of creativity in both pattern and colour.
Our photos show the women at work creating items as diverse as embroidered postcards, Ipad covers from hand knotted macrame, decorated baskets ,and larger pieces of boucherouite work to be made into handbags, cushions and other products. More information on the Exposé Artisanal project  can be seen here. The Art de Fes exhibition at Cafe Clock opens at 17h, 08 March and runs until 07 April

Boucherouite workshop Boucherouite workshop Boucherouite workshop
Posted 02 March 2014


Nature: Interesting Plants in Fez

Mother of Thousands, Dar Aquas, Fez Morocco Mother of Thousands Flowers, Dar Aquas, Fez Morocco Mother of Thousands Plantlets, Dar Aquas, Fez Morocco

A couple of years ago we bought an odd looking plant from a street cart, the seller said it was called 'scom'. It was a succulent, a type of plant that seems to do well in the Fez climate. This new plant seemed to do well, we placed it in a corner spot and it flourished.
The first winter we noticed a long stem emerged from the plant and this was then topped by a head of bell type flowers. However the flowers did not appear to produce any seeds, the seeds seemed to be growing around the edges of the leaves. These seeds were dispersing all over the terrace with new plants appearing very quickly and their shape adjusted according to their position, short wide in shallow pots and taller and slender in deeper pots. They seemed to love damp places, but then also thrived in the sun.
They were amazing. It was only after having the plants about 6 months that we realised how they were reproducing so successfully. On closer inspecting we saw that the 'seeds' on the edges of the leaves we not actually seeds but mini versions of the plant itself, so when they dispersed they we already partly grown and would root virtually anywhere, it was like the plant was producing its own specialised 'cuttings'.
Later we discovered the plant had the appropriate English name of 'Mother of Thousands' and is a native of Madagascar, although it is also now found in similar climates throughout the world. It does seem like the type of plant that could be very invasive, but is probably kept in check by the odd frosty period every few years. Anyhow we'll keep monitoring iit here at Dar Aquas

Camomile Plant, Dar Aquas, Fez Morocco
This plant first appears like a small spidery weed every January, but it is actually Camomile. The small daisy type yellow flowers with white petals are now just beginning to open. Previously we were removing these 'weeds' from our plant pots, but then missed some one year and when they matured we discovered that they were camomile. So now we are careful to leave them in place and every year we get these lovely vanilla scented flowers on our terrace. Maybe this year we'll get enough to collect and dry and we can have out very own Dar Aquas camomile tea.
Posted 10 February 2014



Cinema News: Fez Cinema showing Films in original language, Institute Francais cancels Film programme

Megarama Cinema Fez MoroccoThe refurbished Megarama Empire cinema on Blvd Hassan II has begun a weekly showing of films in their original language. In Moroccan cinemas, most films shown, unless they are French language or Moroccan films in Arabic are the dubbed French versions. However, now each Thursday evening, the Megarama will show a film in it's original language. The next showing will be the new Robocop at 19h45 on Thursday 13 Feb. The original 1984 Robocop by Paul Verhoeven is a great film so it will be interesting to see how the remake turns out.

Institut Francais FesWe used to enjoy the Instuitute Francais film programme on Wednesday evenings at the Cinema Rex. French film has a very different style to English lanuage productions be they Hollywood Blockbusters or Indie fiilms, so it gave a nice contrast to the regular fare. However the Rex cinema has now closed and the Institute Francais have not as yet been able to find an alternate venue, which is a pity. We hope that they will be able to find somewhere so as they can once again include a film season in their Spring cultural programme.
Posted 08 February 2014



Nature: Recent hike on Mount Zalagh

Mount Zalagh, Fez Morocco, January 2014 Mount Zalagh, Fez Morocco, January 2014 Mount Zalagh, Fez Morocco, January 2014

Here are a few photos of our first hike up Mount Zalagh in 2014. The weather forecast the previous day said it would be sunny, and there is nothing nicer than a crisp sunny Moroccan winter's day. We set off early and decided to approach the main summit from the rear. On the way up we saw a lot of bird life especially large numbers of North African Chaffinches and several Redstarts. Later on the far side of the summit we came across 2 Buzzards and also there were several ravens in the vicinity. It was also lovely to see the early Almond blossom.

Once we reached the top we went to the triangulation point where we ate our packed lunch with only the midday calls to prayer from the medina way below breaking the silence. Afterwards we made our way eastwards along the crest with wonderful SE views over towards a snow topped Mount Bou Iblane. After descending through the fertile lower slopes we stopped just before reaching town for some tea and fresh harsha before finally making our way back to Rcif and Dar Aquas.

Click here to book a room at Dar Aquas. For Courses, Retreats, & Walks see here
Posted 04 February 2014


Culture: 2014 Fez Festival of Sufi Culture 12-19 April

2013 Fez Festival of Sufi Cultures, 13-20 April 2014, Fez MoroccoA provisional line up for the 8th Fez Festival of Sufi Cultures has been released. This year's festival is themed 'In the footsteps of Ibn Arabi', the Arab Andalusian Sufi mystic. It will run from 12-19 April and features, so far, Sufi Brotherhoods from Morocco, Turkey, and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Brotherhoods (Tariqa) so far listed include, from Morocco, the Tijaniya, Chadhiliya, Qadiriya, Wazzaniya, Charqawiya and from abroad, Tariqa Naqchbandiya of Turkey and Tariqa Qadiriya of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Last year with the sole exception of the closing concert, all events took place at Musée Batha.

Click here to book a room at Dar Aquas for the Fes Festival of Sufi Culture
Posted 31 January 2014


Travel News: Ryanair's temporary route switch from Bergamo to Milan (Malpensa) & other new Ryanair Morocco route news

Ryanair logo Ryanair have announced that for 3 weeks from the 12 May that all flights from Bergamo (incl Fez) will switch to to Milan Malpensa to allow for renovation works at Bergamo Orio al Serio airport.

Also some upcoming new Ryanair Morocco routes include
Rabat to London Stansted (Commences 05 Feb 2014)
Marrakech to Dublin (02 April 2014)
Agadir to Marseille Provence (01 April 2014)
Marrakech to Milan Malpensa (12 May 2014)

Finally on 01 February Ryanair will switch to allocated seating, from their current free seating. You will however be able to choose your own seat for a €5 fee (€10 return) or alternatively you will be allocated a seat 24 hours prior to departure.
Posted 31 January 2014



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