Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Tuesday Souq in Azrou

For those with a reasonable amount of time in Fez, day trips are a great way to take a break from the Medina and get to see more of the surrounding countryside. The easiest destinations include, Meknes, Volubilis, Moulay Idriss, Sefrou, Ifrane and Azrou.

Every week in Morocco there are more than 800 country souqs held. Usually the name of the souq is the name of the day on which it is held. So, on a Tuesday, it is a good plan to head to the Tuesday souq at Azrou.

Spectacular Middle Atlas scenery -photo Sandy McCutcheon

If you have the money, then hiring a car and driver for the day is a good option and will cost between 600 and 800 dirhams for the day).  A grand-taxi will cost 28 dirham a seat. There are also six buses (18 dirham)  from Fez to Azrou every day. If you are traveliing by car, go via Imouzzer  and take a coffee break in to the resort and university town of Ifrane. Most of the tour parties stop at the first hotel (Les Chamoix), but we would suggest going a little further into the town and trying one of the more reasonably priced cafes. Ifrane is a little like a European alpine village and the architecture will remind you an Austrian mountain village.

After Ifrane you travel through cedar and oak forest to Azrou. If you stop in the forest, it might be a good thing to heed the warnings about the Macaques (Barbary apes)and read our story : Morocco - making the animals anxious?

The Amazigh (Berber) name, Azrou, means "great rock" owing to a strange volcanic outcrop just outside the western edge of the town. As the town is at 1250 metres, it can be chill so go prepared.

Azrou carpet souq - photo Suzanna Clarke

The Tuesday Souq is hard to miss, as from early morning the people stream into the open area 1.5 kilometres outside the town to the northeast. Just inside the souq gates are some of the cheapest carpets (compared to Fez) although the quality is variable. Bargain hard and you should be able to get something worthwhile. Look out for the red carpets with geometric motifs as these are the speciality of the Beni M'Gid Berbers who gave up the nomadic lifestyle and founded the town.

Azrou Mosque - photo Suzanna Clarke

In the centre of the town is a strip of restaurants serving basic Moroccan dishes, but be prepared to pay tourist prices. A street meal that would usually cost six of us around 100 dirhams cost double that as we were charged for the usually complimentary olives and salad. Still, the chicken was delicious. For something a  little different, try trout or the rabbit tajine at the Hotel des Cedres in Place Mohammed V. Also on Mohammed V you will find ATMs and Cyber Abridnet where you can check your email for 6 dirham for 30 minutes..

Azrou town centre - Photo Suzanna Clarke

This week, photographer, Gérard Chemit, visited Azrou and kindly sent us the following photographs of the Tuesday Souq.

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