Here’s looking at you, Casablanca - Metro US

Here’s looking at you, Casablanca

Why go now?
The former French protectorate in Morocco has gone from strength to strength quietly establishing itself one of northern Africa’s cultural hubs. The Casablancais are cool, cosmopolitan and happily embrace Western trends whilst remaining fiercely proud and protective of their Islamic heritage. The city is constantly cooled by the incoming sea breeze, a delightful indication of the sandy beaches nearby.

It’s my first time. What should I do there?
Walking around the old medina you’ll be tempted to buy everything and anything that sparkles, from the leather soled ‘babouche’ slippers over to the glittering jewels and kaftans.

Get a sugar rush by eating one of the honey-laden treats at Patisserie Bennis Habous (2 Rue Fkih El Gabbas). Leave the chaotic city centre for the charming seaside Boulevard de la Corniche.

Miami Plage has huge umbrellas to protect you from the blazing sun together with very American-looking basket ball courts.

Clear your pores at Hammam Zaiani (hammamziani.ma). Here, along with the traditional steam room you can soak in a Jacuzzi, ask for a full body scrub or head to the juice bar.

Family run restaurant Taverne du Dauphin (115 Blvd Houphouet Boigny) may not look like much from the outside but the Provencal touch and fabulous fish and seafood is stunningly well-prepared.

Near Central Market, on Blvd Mohammed explore the old day casa, a favourite haunt of writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

I’ve been before. What should I see this time?
Sadly, Hollywood’s epic movie Casablanca was actually filmed in Burbank. But Kathy Kriger has made fiction reality with the opening of Rick’s Café (rickscafe.ma) a near perfect replica of Humphrey Bogart’s smoky hangout in the original motion picture.
Of all the gin joints in all the world you really should walk into hers!

Start practising your lines now — see our reminders below.

Where’s the best place for an afternoon’s shopping?
The Central Market place is great to ease your way into the day.

There’s little to buy outside of fresh produce, great if you’re planning to hit the beach later on and are planning a picnic.

For a more up-market shop, the leafy Boulevard D’Anfa is where you want to be heading.

Locally thought of as being the Beverly Hills of Morocco, you’ll find a number of designer boutiques.

Not everyone has the patience or willpower to haggle so for local arts and crafts at fixed prices go to the Exposition Nationale d’Artisnanat (3 Avenue Hassan II).

What’s the nightlife like?
The beachfront area of Aïn Diab is where it’s all “happening.” Clustered clubs and cocktail bars ensure you’ll be out drinking and dancing till sunrise. Joya (10 Rue de la Mer Jaune) plays a mix of African, techno and pop music.

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