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Morocco is different to England. For some visitors, it can feel alien and intimidating, to others it’s more like a warm and welcoming bath. Often, the difference is down to your first real stop over. With any new country, you’ll want to ease yourself in gently and walk away with happy memories and Chefchaouen, the Blue City, lets you do this in spades.
As the town is in the north of the country, a shortish road trip from the ferry port of Tangier Med, it made sense for us to try it as our first encounter with an African way of life.
Why is the ‘Blue City’ blue? Some say the mosquitoes do not like the colour, or that it was to do with the Jewish population here? We were given these and any number of reasons, which means that nobody really knows. I reckon a local simply painted their place blue and everyone thought it looked nice and copied it. Now the whole effect is a remarkable spectacle.
After three days here, we felt this place had slid under our skin. It’s quiet serenity and lack of grasping touts and guides who, elsewhere won’t leave you alone for a moment, makes it a rarity as a Moroccan tourist trap. There were other visitors here, a mass of Chinese people, who were making the most of the Chinese new year break and heading to a country that welcomes them and their money with open arms. Chefchaouen’s main square had been decked out with Chinese lanterns to honour these high rollers. It made for a fascinating juxtaposition of cultures.
If, like us, you like nothing more than a bracing jog up a mountain, step right up, because this area is bounded on one side by he Rift Mountain range, which tops out at a respectable 2000m. The rugged peaks that run alongside the town are somewhat lower, similar in height and feel to the Snowdon range. We did not actually jog, but we did hike up one of the many obvious paths and admire the town as it snuggled in tight to the lower slopes.
We can’t recommend this town and the French owners of our gorgeous, simple hotel highly enough.
Start your Moroccan journey here and you’ll want to keep going and see much more of this country.