Selling Your Girlfriend in Fez

After receiving countless letters on the topic "How much can I get for my girlfriend in Fez" I have decided to drop a few lines giving my opinion and a piece of advice based on my own experience.
We don't live in a perfect world, and there are many westerners that pretending to spend a few days in Morocco want to take advantage of the commercial spirit that still today burns in the city of Fes, and try to make a profit selling their annoying girlfriend/spouse or even their daughter. I know it may not even be their fault, for such is the big crisis in Europe and, alas, there is little good we can look forward to.

Gatsby strongly advises not to be carried away with the prospect of amazing offers, since the reality of the matter is that camels are a complicated currency to keep in your Ryanair luggage allowance.
But Gatsby himself is only a man, and there was a time he was indeed in need of money; so taking advantage of a russian friend visiting the city, he took her to a bazaar to look at the most beautiful rugs. The vendor took Gatsby aside:

- I will give you 5000 camels for your girlfriend. -he said-
- It is not my girlfriend -Gatsby answered-
- Then I give you 3000 camels.

So one important lesson in order to get a good price is to always pretend to be close family.
Gatsby accepted:

- OK, 3000 camels and is yours.
- Well...I don't have the camels right now...would you take sheep and some chickens instead?

Realising how unglamorous the whole trading was becoming, Gatsby declined the offer and left at once with his friend, and not even the last offer was tempting for him:

- And what about some carpets?
- Do I look like Aladdin?

Since then Gatsby has refused to sell any of his beautiful friends coming to discover the magical city of Fez, and focused on selling the ugly ones for basics like bread or milk. And with the voice of experience he can tell you that the business is over, and if the purpose of your travel to Fez is selling your partner, you should better buy yourself a ticket for Saudi Arabia, where apparently they pay in gold.

But if after all this you are still  thinking of going ahead, bear in mind the true story of a man that agreed to sell his 47 year old wife for 1000 camels. He gave the woman away and he took a loaded luggage as payment. When he opened the bag once in Madrid, all he found was 50 packets of Camel without filter...and sure he was sad for a short while, but he soon looked at the positive side: he could now go back to watch soccer on TV and smoke like a real man.

PAUL to be opened in Fez

Paul, the leading worldwide bakery is soon to be opened in the great city of Fes, in the new part of the town at the end of Ben Abdellah avenue, just in front of that crazy round fountain that apparently the japanese built under commission. 
Paul makes the most delicious breads, cakes and world famous macarons, on top of that is also a good restaurant and works already like the place to be in other cities in Morocco like Rabat and specially Casablanca, where you have to be seen if you are someone, or at least trying to be.
Gatsby's friends are in the origin of this most welcomed project, so for now the Villa that is going to host it has been purchased, and it will be soon demolished to build a brand new construction; there will be a nice terrace and many comfortable sitting areas. Old time favourite La Villa Boulangerie exploded with rage when they saw the prime location Paul got for himself and its trying to rebuild itself on time to start a fierce competition that will only be too good for Fes.
Gatsby will keep you posted.

Barcelo Fez Medina opens its Doors

The spanish hotel chain has finally opened after more than one year of heavy works in the very beginning of Hassan II avenue, just in front of the infamous MacDonalds, knows for its healthy options and for terrorising the cows all over the world. 
The hotel looks gorgeous from every angle and would be the first natural choice for a business oriented traveler, or people with special needs -like handicapped- that would experience difficulties in our beloved medina. There are more than 100 rooms including superior, suites and even one Royal Suite, all with carefully designed furniture and ultramodern bathrooms, and Gatsby is already starting to place its visiting friends there, instead of keeping them at home, when soon a friendship is turned into a nightmare. At barely 3 minutes in taxi from the medina, or even in an adventurous 20 minutes walk, the Fez Medina Hotel suits also tourists willing to visit the old city and discover its millenary veiled charms.
There is also a little hammam, a swimming pool and a restaurant looking quite out of context but inspiring specially for business lunches. Prices are reasonable starting at 100 euros in their own web including breakfast (probably cheaper in webs like So all that Gatsby can say is that a hotel like this was much needed in Fes, that besides being one of the most interesting destinations in Morocco is starting to awake as an economic center after long years of being neglected by the authorities and companies alike.

Along Came...Atlas Palais Medina & Spa

Yesterday, after a normal Ramadan day watching James Bond movies -the Roger Moore ones, of course-, Gatsby was in the mood for new scenarios and new adventures. Atlas Palais Medina & Spa Fes opened a few months ago, belonging to the sometimes prestigious and sometimes doggy hotel group Atlas Hospitality, and was about time to pay it a visit. Plain t-shirt and velvet smoking shoes were probably enough for the occasion, better overdressed than underdress, and Oscar Wilde would have agreed.

The Hotel is situated in the road that links the New Town with the Medina, in the very same spot where a couple of years ago there was only a couple of really scary Petrol Stations. With long palmtrees, manicured gardens and its own door recalling Bab Boujelloud the hotel becomes one of the big players in the area. The lobby is spacious and elegant, the staff is really polite and welcoming, but without being intrusive, and the swimming pool at night was the perfect spot for a late drink listening to some old arab music.

The rooms are modern and big, and prices are not too bad either, almost cheaper that the drinks (Orange Juice 60 dhs). The only problem is that not being in the medina the hotel does not attract foreign tourists for now, but rather a fashionable crowd from Rabat and Casablanca.

Gatsby knows that an incredible Nightclub and Lounge are now in construction, the arquitect being a dear friend, someone not to forget, the same who designed the famous L'Italien Restaurant near Champs de Courses.

For more infos have a look at their website:

Ramadan 2011 in Fez

Today has been declared the first day of Ramadan. As most of you know this is the sacred time of the year when eating, drinking and some other pleasures are avoided during the day in order to meet them when the sun goes down in a daily party that lasts the whole night.

Needless to say, Gatsby loves Ramadan. Because Ramadan is a time for friends and family, and the doors are always open and everyone welcomes a visitor at F'tour time. And later is time to go for a stroll and take a coffee, maybe play cards, or ping-pong, whatever you like but always with the best company.

For the tourists is really an interesting time to see, and because everything runs as usual in the medina, there is no problem whatsoever. The restaurants remain open (opening times may differ a bit) and the most delicious desserts and pastillas are everywhere on exhibition.

Moroccan are very tolerant and they understand foreigners dont do Ramadan, but will appreciate if you dont eat or drink in their faces. Be a gentleman like Gatsby and you'll really have a good time. Ramadan Kareem.

Gatsby's View on Fez Situation

God Knows that there are only a few things that Gatsby takes seriously, and one of them is the right to have fun and enjoy freely this lovely city called Fes.

After all the Arab Revolutions and specially after the tragic incident of Cafe Argana in Marrakech a lot of tourists experienced a deep lack of confidence in Morocco that lead to cancelations and the general feeling that one should go somewhere else. Lots of people emailed Gatsby personally to have an insider's point of view, and the answer was always the same: the situation is completely calm and safe in every possible way: the cafes are burstling with life and flooding orange juice and mint tea, the souks are filled with olives, dates and sticky almond and honey desserts, the kid in the streets still wants to show you the tanneries, the man with the moustache stills tells you about his cousin in Italy...and Gatsby himself keeps drinking a Gintonic before having dinner in Maison Blanche or L'italien; in other words: business as usual.

So this is just a message for all that people that really wanted to come to this country but were packing to actually go somewhere else: Come to Morocco, you'll fall in love.

The Andalous Fez Option

When something new opens in Fez, you have to give it a try. After more than one year of renovations and all sorts of speculations Andalous Fez finally opened some months ago. Gatsby was there in the beginning, and he liked it. He didnt want to write immediately about it, he wanted to see how was going to evolve, to grow, and only now, with the perspective of time, he can say its a very good place to go. First time the waiter had no clue of what a mojito was, but by the second time was already drinkable, and nowadays its rather good. The prices are incredibly affordable and the music is quite good; besides, all the customers know Gatsby, which is guarantee that you are in the best possible company.

The concept is easy: Andalous Fez has a restaurant in the ground floor stating dishes from Morocco and some international winners like a glamorous Burguer, and in the first floor you find the Lounge with a fashionnable young crowd. A terrace is lacking but there are plenty of dark corners for dark deeds. It closes at 1 a.m. meaning that is the perfect spot for a first drink after dinner after L'Italien, pre-O'club and pre-Jnan Palace for the most daring.

Andalous Fez, Route D'Imouzzer, 34

tel. 0535.60.31.62

L'Italien of Fez Opens in Style

Finally a restaurant where you can actually eat real italian food in a trendy space: the food is beautiful, the setting is beautiful, and even the people is beautiful but unpretencius, just like Gatsby. Our friends from L'italien restaurant did not call us for the opening night, but excused themselves saying that they prefered to have fewer customers and serve them better rather than having them all and leave them unsatisfied. They may have a point. According to the owners the idea of the whole place is: 'to introduce the real italy straight to the hearts -and stomachs- of the moroccan-fassi, because you know fassi people is very demanding, but with good food you can conquer anyone and make them fall in love with you' said Alessandro.

The prices are very democratic, the pizzas starting at only 60 dh and the homemade pastas at 70 dh, even poor Gatsby could afford a lovely tiramisu at 40 dh.

What else could you possibly want?

'Lasciatemi sono un italiaaaaano....'


Antonio Rodriguez Jimenez, is both a dreamer and a practic man. A dreamer because he flirted with the idea of producing the first Flamenco Festival in our beloved medieval Fez, and a practic man because as the director of the Instituto Cervantes he fought until that dream turned into a reality, and its going to be big.
Gatsby was invited to the press conference in one of the many well equipped rooms of the great Instituto Cervantes, and was not only surprised by an unusual crowd of people interested in the festival, but also by the good wine they served afterwards.
This first edition of the Flamenco Festival will be dedicated to the women, a subject which Gatsby truly approves of, and will develop during five days through seven different shows in the theater Al-Hourria (Av.Palestine):

-4 April- Conference 'Origen y evolucion del Flamenco' along with guitarrista Alfredo Mesa
-5 April- 19h-'Chocolata' fusion flamenco group
20h-'Chekara de Tetouan' moroccan group with andalusian roots
-6 April- Concierto Gusto 'Rafaela Carrasco' top level flamenco dance evolution, not to miss.
-7 April- Jose Torres Trio & Melisa Calero, new show concept with music and dance.
-8 April- 19h-M. Jose Perez (singing) & Miguel Molina (guitar), fresh flamenco
20h- Juan Antonio Ramírez Lopez (cante) & Jose Luis Escoz (guitarra)

All tickets can be purchased in advance in the Instituto Cervantes and the prices are really affordable, starting at just 50 dirhams per show, and a whole week-pass can be bought at only 200 dh, making it a very good gift.
Some surprises are reserved during the festival and its being rumored that there may be an after show party with the artists in Gatsby's place, but for that we are sorry, no tickets can be bought. But he does accept bribes.

New Garden for Fes, Jnan Sbil Opens

In New York's Central Park there are sexual assaulters running free, in London's Hyde Park the rippers like to kill prostitutes, in the parisien Le Bois de Boulogne the prostitues actually like to ripe you, and in El Retiro park in Madrid just about everybody starting from the gypsies ask you for money and try sell you drugs. But there is still hope for you Nature lovers and teenagers in search of a place to hold hands shyly, the Jnan Sbil Garden has opened its doors. After four years of detailed restoration and more than 30 million dirhams invested its the most expected comeback since ABBA, and Gatsby went there to have a stroll and sit with a good Henry James book for an hour or two. The Garden is really something exceptional and has to be seen and experienced in a sunny day, being in Fez, that is quite easy. The garden boasts more than 3000 different vegetal species some of them being really rare. The park was created by the Sultan Moulay Abdallah in the XVIII century and expands itself over more than 7 hectares. Gatsby's favourite part is the Bambou area, and the pintoresque noria. There is also a lake and plenty of water in this park that becomes a must for every visitor in seach of peace and pure air. And on top of everything our friends from the Mezzanine are just opposite the door so why not have a Gintronade (a mix of lemonade and Gin, invented actually by yours truly) from the lovely terrace?

The park opens from Tuesdays to Sundays from 9 am to 5 pm.

And if you see someone reading quietly in the shadows a nice Oscar Wilde or Joseph Conrad please dont bother, Gatsby is not so nice in person.

Charity Dinner in the Majestic

In order to celebrate the 100th International Wowen's Day in style Gatsby will like you to go to a place he has definetely no access: a Women's only dinner. And then is for a good cause too, all the money will go to the Women's Centre in Batha, a non-profit institution that helps women that suffered from violence or have been ostracized by their families or society.
The Dinner will take place on Sunday 6th March in the reputed Majestic Restaurant, price is 250 dh for a gorgeous menu and transportation is included if needed.
Tickets should be purchased in advanced and places are limited! so if you want to secure your place contact one of the promoters, Vanessa Bonnin on the 06 75 00 67 88 or go straight to Riad Maison Blue, or to Fes et Gestes 05 35 63 85 32.

The smell of Margherita

No it is not last Gatsby's conquest, Margherita is just a kind of pizza, the most virgin of them all we may say, and one of Gatsby's favourites. Soon to be opened the only truly italian restaurant in Fez has already a name and its very simple: "L'italian"; the architecture is not pretencious yet very careful with the design and cozyness of the whole place: real wood oven, light colors, interior garden, superb terrace... Gatsby has seen the works and we may say its almost ready, and will be opening its doors in a month time according to the young and excited owners. The chef is already operational and its trying new dishes everyday, one amatriciana here, one porcini mushrooms lasagna there, some risotto and little by little the menu is coming along. Gatsby had the honour of attending some degustations and everything was in tune with its legendary italian palate: the chef was approved.

The restaurant will be situated in the Champs de Course area, not far from already famous Zen Garden restaurant and the (in)famous chinese Wong.

We welcome this addition without forgetting that many other restaurants are opening soon and Gatsby will give you all the infos in the near time...

Mango Opens in Fes

'If you build it, they will come'.
Ok, maybe this is not a big deal for you my dear window shopper stranger, but when you live in a medieval town like Fes surrounded by djellabas and fake Armani T-shirts, and like Tesco would say: 'Every little helps'. The new Mango shop is of course not in the Medina, but rather in the new town behind the police headquarters, in an area quite lively where you can find Cafe Eight and one Web Help Center with plenty of potencial customers. Its specially good news for all of those women that after riding a donkey all day long experience the need of doing some retail therapy to feel in touch with our globalised world. The new Mango shop does not have the mens collection but that only means that Gatsby will still have an excuse to go abroad and have a look at Harvey Nichols in London from time to time.

Beyond the Medina

There is life beyond the medina. Even if the Old City of Fez remains a magnet for cultivated travellers in search of Gnaoua immersions, amazing historical sights and the finest gastronomy in Morocco, its a proven fact that the new part of Fez can offer some entertainment too. New places about to open include the never ending Andalous Fez in route d'Immouzzer and the only truly Italian restaurant to be open soon called simply "L'Italian" in the Champs de Course neighbourhood, belonging to the young group of enterpreneurs F&Be, which will soon become the official pizza supplier of Gatsby. And that's precisely where the man himself, un uomo tra due mondi, has recently established his general quarters, and like Nero when was showed his lavish new palace he also thought 'I'm finally lodged as a man'.
The house has lovely windows overlooking a garden that comes with its own palms, lemon and orange trees, has plenty of space and Gatsby is already thinking in hosting one party or two. Who knows, if you are well connected you may even be invited.

How to Start a Year

Our friends from FezLounge decided to organise a private party to celebrate the incoming New Year, and was simply a huge success. Plenty of well known faces from the medina such as Jennifer from Dar Roumana, Kleo from Dar Attajali, Anthony Kwan and his lovely wife representing Dar el Hana, Alvaro the medina earthquake who is about to open the first truly italian restaurant in the Fez New Town, the successful publisher Andrew Morris who published: 'Clock Book: Recipes from a Modern Moroccan Kitchen', Dominick Nisbett from all over the world, Robyn Kerryson UN envoy flew in from Afganistan specially for the occassion and many many other. And of course Gatsby himself, delivering the best of his dancing moves. Food, liquid and music made the perfect combination and fueled the party up till 2 in the morning, which in the medina is quite a record.
Happy New Year to everyone in the medina and ailleurs. And if you still havent visited Fez, maybe this could be the best year to make it.

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