It’s no secret that I’m not a great fan of Fez. I feel like one is either more Marrakech or more Fez. And I fit in to the former. Marrakech with its contemporary design, art, and restaurant scene coupled with a population I just find so friendly and humorous makes this my preferred hometown in Morocco.
While I find Fez enchanting, what I truly love about the city is the opportunity to explore the stunning countryside at its doorstep. The Roman ruins of Volubilis, the grandeur of Meknes, once one of Morocco’s capital cities, the holy and hilly village of Moulay Idriss, and the calm of Sefrou where textile artisans are still hard at work are some of my preferred escapes.
But through my chats with Why Morocco podcast guests, I’m learning about more destinations in the rural Middle Atlas Mountain region that have me longing to return.
In my chat with Aziza Chaouni on Why Morocco episode 28 , Aziza spoke about the Sidi Harazem thermal baths near Fez that not only have healing properties, but the 1960s complex that Jean-Francois Zevaco designed is done in brutalism style. Um, yes please!
My chat with travel writer, concierge, Fez resident and friend Helen Ranger on episode 30 of Why Morocco after she submitted content from the rural Middle Atlas region for a soon-to-be released guidebook left me determined to find a gap in my schedule to explore the area further.
Helen talks about two of the national parks in the region, trekking options, the Sidi Harazem baths, caves, and what travellers want to know for planning a Middle Atlas getaway. And through chats with other friends in the Fez region, the nearby waterfalls and caves, nature reserves, a brutalists thermal bath complex, and weekly markets that Helen tells us about during our interview, are easily accessible with public transport.
But from a tourism perspective for those flying from Europe, I don’t understand why more people don’t take advantage of a short-haul long weekend in the Fez countryside. With all the tips that Helen provides for planning a trip to the rural Middle Atlas region, Fez could double as a base for exploring the old city, but also a getaway in the countryside. After all, the city is served with international flights to leading European destinations.