Recap & Guide to Fes, Morocco
We left Chefchaouen mid afternoon for the 4 hour highway drive to Fes. We checked into our exquisite, luxurious 600 year old Riad, Riad Fes and were given a tour of the extensive property which was originally 5 family mansions. After the lovely welcome tea and pastries, we settled into our stunning and spacious rooms and then attempted to go explore on our own before our 8:30 dinner reservation. We quickly learned that the streets in Fes are so confusing!!! After about 8 minutes of walking we turned back, nervous we would get lost in the dark and instead had a drink at the bar in our riad while we waited.
Riad Fes completely exceeded our expectations. The beautiful hand crafted detail in every single corner of this riad was magnificent . We all really felt like we were staying in a Palace! Also, the people at the hotel were so warm, kind, welcoming and helpful. We loved everything about this place.
Fes is known for having the largest Medina in the world. There are about 2400 small streets/alleys in the medina in Fes. Pedestrians and donkeys are the only traffic in the Medina. The walls on either side of all of the small streets are about 20 feet high so you can't see anything except the street you're on. None of the streets have names and there are no numbers above the doors so you could imagine how difficult it is to find your way anywhere. They have local walkers to take you to and from places so you don't get lost. Our walker picked us up at 8:30 for dinner and we headed out into the maze that is Fes to dinner at Dar Roumana.
This place was stunning, and the food was unreal. If you're looking for an upscale restaurant in Fes or a place for a great date night or celebration I would highly recommend Dar Roumana. Between the four of us we tried the lamb kefta and cuttlefish appetizers, the lamb tenderloin and hake fish. We all split a piece of the almond cake for desert. We got it without the yogurt and it was one of the best cakes I've ever tasted. It was our most expensive meal at this point in the trip but still only cost about $28 per person. (Most of our other meals were been around $10/ person or even a little less)
The next day, we had a local guide to take us through Fes. We went to see one of the King’s 29 palaces, visited 14 th Century religious school, admired the medieval architecture, went to a viewpoint that overlooked the ancient city, visited a ceramics factory, wandered the food, and craft markets and through the Jewish quarter. The local food markets in Fes are like nothing I’d ever seen... The oddest one was the camel butcher, with a full camel’s head hanging outside his stand. It was sad to see but the difference in cultures is just so fascinating. The fish vendors also sold things like shark meat which was pretty wild to see. (warning: photos of these items pictured below).
Seeing the Jewish quarter in Fes was also very cool. Originally, Morocco was inhabited by Berber people, then Jews, and then Arabs. So in many places, you can still see where there were mazuzas in the door frames of people's homes. (See photo below). We visited one of the oldest synagogues in the country which they have kept in beautiful condition. If you're interested in Moroccan history, this is something you should absolutely do. We learned SO much. I would say you need to have a guide to be able to comfortably see Fes. The inside of the medina is a confusing labyrinth. We were told that even locals often get lost.
In the afternoon, we returned to Riad Fes where they treated us to an epic cooking class with their head chef and pastry chef, Abida and Lamia. If you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen everything we cooked... In case you missed it, we made a chicken and olive tagine, 3 Moroccan salads, an unreal eggplant dish and a pastilla for desert! We tasted everything during the class.. But a few hours later they sat us for dinner in one of the beautiful sections of the Riad and plated and served us what we had made in the class. It was a pretty fun experience, and I must say... The food was damn good.
The following morning we had a fantastic breakfast at the Riad (again, included in our stay) and then I photographed the riad (a few of them pictured at the top of this post). We left Fes late morning for the 7 hour drive to Marrakech. Our stay at Riad Fes is one I will never forget. The staff was so friendly and their hospitality was world class. They really rolled out the red carpet and treated us royally. When I return to Fes I will absolutely stay here again, no question. Next stop, Marrakech!