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Life in this sand-coloured city can seem provincial at times but this ancient feeingl only adds to its charm, and its sense of otherness: while donkeys still navigate the Medina as the main mode of transport for goods, you will see everything from cases of Coca-Cola to mattresses perched expertly and delicately atop the backs of docile beasts. Fès is known for its handicrafts, and particularly for its famous blue and white tiles. Arabic is the main language in Morocco but French is widely spoken so it gets easier to get around compared to many other Arabic countries. People in Fès are exceptionally friendly and hospitable, and they love to talk to travellers and to proudly boast about their city. If you speak with locals for any length of time, be prepared to be invited to their house for tea – this is a genuine and innocent offer, so do not shy away from it, as it is a great way to get to know people and to get a feel for life here.
As the third largest city in Morocco, Fès has a vast cultural heritage and a historic value for the region, and in the three districts Medina, Fès el Jedid and Ville Nouvelle, an ancient past meets the modern world: the decades of French rule in Morocco have left a unique influence that is visible in the infrastructure and cuisine. Be prepared that you can easily lose yourself in the many sights of the maze-like and car-free Old Town that, on the other hand, is absolutely worth the adventure. As the Medina is not for tourists only, due to its integral part in daily life, and in conducting business, you can here experience the traditional life.
Fès has a delightful dining scene with plenty of traditional Moroccan cuisine rounded out by chic European, an particularly French inspired eateries. Due to the temperate climate, many restaurants have outdoor gardens or patios, which add an enchanting element to the experience of traditional Moroccan food culture.
No matter where you stop in Fès, you can always get Maghrebi mint tea, the traditional light sugared green tea with mint leaves that will refresh you throughout the whole day. Many of the cafés are delightfully French-inspired, with a delectable array of sweets and pastries. Note that most of the buildings in Fès shorter streets are not assigned numbers, so keep track of the streets' names only.
Since the Islam, the main religion in Morocco, prohibits the consumption of alcohol, bars can be difficult to find and nightlife gets a bit scarce. Unaccompanied women do not often frequent bars but there are quite a few good options where men and women will both feel comfortable: hotels and venues in the new part of town are a good option if you fancy a drink, while you will there also find most of the existing discos and nightlife.
Fès is a wonderland of shopping, with endless stalls in the medina, and quite a few there in particular. It is always expected that you will bargain over prices, and most shopkeepers give discounts for buying more than one item – also, the discount will grow with every additional item purchased.
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