Morocco is famous throughout the world for its superb rose oil (known as rose otto from the Arabic itr, meaning perfume) and the Rose Festival in El Kelaa M'Gouna is a wonderfully perfumed event worth attending. But because the "valley of the roses" is some six hours drive from Marrakech and accommodation is limited, it is worthwhile making plans well in advance
This year the festival takes place from May ninth to twelfth
|The Rose Festival attracts thousands of Moroccan but few foreign visitors|
In countryside homes, it's not unusual to see whole rooms knee-deep in rosebuds and petals that are left to dry. Moroccan women use rosewater on their faces (it's great for combatting wrinkles!), and the dried buds can be mixed with ghassoul (clay) in facial and hair products. It's also used in flower water shakers at celebrations, and spice merchants add dried buds to ras el-hanoot, used in cooking.
Rosewater from El Kelaa M'Gouna is available everywhere in the Fez Medina and is very cheap (around Dh10 for a 200ml bottle). Moroccans make their own rosewater at this time of year, when you can see shops selling nothing but rosepetals, and small zinc stills are widely available.
|Hundreds of rose products are available|
Additional text: Helen Ranger