Shopping in Fez
Textiles, Rugs, Antiques:
Au Petit Bazaar de Bon Accueil, 35 Talaa Sghira, by arch, across from fountain. Si Mohammed is the owner. To see the good stuff you have to ask to go upstairs; downstairs are good new gift items.
Khalid & Si Mohamed, Talaa Kibeera at intersection of Derb il Horra. Good carpets, embroidery, manuscripts. Many of the hendiras at Dar Bennis are from this shop.
Jaouad Zouhri, 8 Zkak Errouah, Souikt Ben Safi, very close to Dar Bennis. Outstanding antique shop. Museum-quality textiles and other objects. I found a genuine 3000-year-old Egyptian bronze Sekhmet at this shop; of course I thought about it and when I went back it was gone! Try to go when Si Jaouad is there.
The Mellah, Used Furniture Souk, there are two wonderful antique shops with good prices.
Hamid, tiny shop on Talaa Kibeera on left just past the Cherableen Mosque; great hendiras (the good ones are hidden away) and old garments.
Les Mysteres de Fes, 53 Derb Bin Lemssari, Sidi Moussa, Guerniz, near Museum Belghazi; outstanding antiques, jewelry and new handmade objects.
The Kissaria, at the end of Talaa Kibeera. Many small shops that sell textiles, some of which are hand-woven. The hand-woven material made for jellabas is especially nice.
Interesting Textiles to look for in Fes: hendiras (hand-woven and embroidered shawls mothers make for their daughter's wedding...look for old ones with natural colors), Berber cushions, old Fes embroidery, old handmade garments.
A note on Prices: It pays to shop around first to get an idea of quality and prices. Some merchants start with reasonable prices and won't give big discounts; some start with outlandish prices and you have to bargain a lot. If they know that you know me, they may give you a good price, or they may give you a high price and say it's a special "you're a friend of David's" price. You can usually negotiate a better price if you get several items. Very good quality objects are rare and are often very expensive: a hendira can cost 200 DH or 10,000 DH. Be aware that if you go alone you will usually pay less than with a guide or local friend. Even if you're with someone who would never ask for a commission, the merchant assumes otherwise.
Pottery and Zellij (mosaic)
Ain Nokbi is the area where pottery and zellij is made. Need to take a taxi. There are a number of large and small shops, and you can see how the pottery and zellij are made. Prices vary amazingly. Caveat emptor!!!
Badria Fakhari of Art Naji speaks English well and is very pleasant and knowledgeable about how zellij is made. If she knows you're staying at Dar Bennis or are from the ALC or ALIF, you'll get a good discount, but always compare the final prices for similar objects, not just how great the discount is.
Tagines and other pottery: for amazingly priced pottery there's a tiny shop on Talaa Kibeera on the right as you're going down, just past the Ain Azleiton parking lot.
On Talaa Kibeera going down on the right just before the new parking lot is a small shop where you can buy wooden objects and boxes. The man who owns this shop is the last person I know who still makes "masharabi" and other objects with his feet on a lathe. Masharabi (or masharabia) are the wooden screens once used in windows and balconies made of little cedar pegs.
For the best selection of wooden objects go to the shop on the street that goes from the Karaouine Mosque main door to Seffarine Square. The shop is on your left just before the Fes Art Gallery, also worth a look.
For good quality hand-carved and painted wooden objects and furniture, see Abdelsalam Abbad, a young carpenter whose family came from Granada in the 15th century. He and his father restored the wood in the Nejjarine Fundoq/Museum. Take the Talaa Sghira past Bank Populaire and turn right on Derb il Rom, by the little fountain. Walk down and take the second right and you'll find his shop in front of you.
The best tailor I know is in the Ville Nouvelle on Lalla Miriem past Chicken Mac just before the big mosque on the left. The handmade caftans, jallabas, and gandouras are superb. They have some garments you can buy, but if you have a few days it's better to choose your fabric and have it custom tailored. Fabric for a jallaba can be from 300-1200 DH and the labor is 300-600 DH. Their loose-fitting gandouras with beautiful embroidery are for men, but look great on women too.
Another very good traditional tailor is in Batha. Walk from the Batha Post Office towards the Talaa, and it's on your right next to the teleboutique. He has nice jallabas and gandooras for around 900-1200 DH.
If you want a nice garment for less money, look for an old one for 200-400 DH. Often the embroidery is finer, in fact.
Contemporary Moroccan Art:
Orientalist Art Gallery, 38 Rue Abdelaziz Boutaleb (which begins at the end of Ave. Chefchaouni), near Hotel Mounia in the Ville Nouvelle; speak to owner, Aziz Karmouni, 035 94 45 45. Probably the best selection of contemporary painting in Fes.
The best fruit and vegetable market is at the beginning of the Talaa Kibeera. Go up to Bab Boujloud, take a right past the Kasbah restaurant, and then a left by the fountain. For the meat market, take a right instead. The fruit and vegetable souk in the Rcif area is also wonderful and very picturesque.
In every neighborhood there are also small shops for fruit and vegetables. For different kinds of bread and pastries, there's a good shop in Boujloud.
Beer and Wine: there are two shops in the Ville Nouvelle next to the Marche Central. There are also three supermarkets that sell wine: Acima, Marjane, and Metro.
Chocolate: for the best chocolate in Fes, and perhaps in the world (!) go to Regalia Chocolatier, #12 Rue Imam El Jouaini, Route de Meknes, in the Ville Nouvelle; Fatima Mrani Alaoui, trained in Belgium, makes fresh "artisanal" chocolates every day.
For a modern market or supermarket, try Marjane or Acima, the two newest fancy supermarkets in Fes.
Books, Newspapers, and Magazines: The newsstand/bookstore by the parking lot of the Marche Central has the best selection. The selection of art books about Fes is great.
©2007 David Amster