A city synonymous with Bohemia, literary roots and artistic creativity, Tangier has been the playground for artists, authors and designers for decades now.
We decided to find out more about this magical city so who better to ask than Stephanie Gaou of independent bookshop, Les Insolites, one of Tangier's hidden treasures.
Tell us about the location of Les Insolites
Les Insolites is situated in the center of Tangier in a traditional 1950s-inspired pedestrian street. The view from our terrace is of the Strait of Gibraltar. Our neighbours are antique dealers, leather dealers, night clubs and bars, traditional grocers and the atelier, Topolina. It’s a bustling district at night but peaceful during the day ; the perfect balance!
If you could choose just one art gallery to visit, which one would it be?
Not strictly in Tangier but a short 30 minute drive away is Aplanos Gallery, a beautiful gallery situated on the coast and owned by Belgian artist, Anne-Judith van Loock. Not only is the gallery a place in which Anne-Judith displays her own work, it also plays host to paintings, drawings and sculptures by local artists and those further afield.
Best novel to read to get you in the mood of Tangier?
If you’re looking for an English read then I can’t recommend Tangier Diaries by John Hopkins enough. For French readers, Tanger et autres Marocs by Daniel Rondeau. Finally, for a read in Arabic then any of the books by Muhamed Chukri.
What’s Tangier best kept secret?
People come to Tangier to discover its charm and atmosphere however this is something that can never be found. But this is the best kept secret of Tangier; you can never really comprehend the city and this is why its so mysterious and why people come-back time and time again.
Tell us about Tangier’s food scene
Downtown is a popular area for small, independent restaurants. The city’s go-to dish is sea and theres also a lot of Spanish influence due to our proximity to the country’s souther coast. My favourite destination is Saveurs de Poissons; it’s very unique and is located next to the Hotel Minzah.
Where and what is your go-to place on a Friday night?
Start your evening with tapas and drinks at Pepe Oceana, an old Spanish tavern in the centre of town. I also reccomend you get a cognac here as it’s the best! From here you could head to the Morocco Club in the Kasbah for dinner. Finally finish your night at Kasbar, a club which is perfect for dancing.
Where can you find the best markets for shopping?
The Casbarata market is the place to get everything. Whether it’s a traditional carpet or antique furniture; silver tea trays or second hand books, the market stocks everything you’d need for you home. I also enjoy going to Dradeb Market which is very traditional. It’s only open on Thursdays and Sundays and is great for organic produce, pottery and the best olives in town.
Sunday brunch spot
Abdou’s is an outdoor restaurant on the coast with views out across the Atlantic Ocean. Pick the paella and savour the view. Alternatively, head to the Kasbah and eat brunch at Le Salon Bleu.
Best spot for people watching
The Café Métropole is in the center on the Boulevard Pasteur. It’s always sunny and everyone walks along this street.
Last-minute date spot?
Grand Café de Paris is in the centre of town and is situated in from of the French Consulate. It’s a beautiful spot for a date and people watching! If that’s not your thing then enjoy a drink on the terrace of La Cinémathèque in the Grand Socco.
Where’s best to stay in Tangier?
Dar El Kasbah is a great budget option and so is Dar Sultan Tangerina. If you’re after something a bit more upmarket then try Riad Mokhtar, which is located in the Kasbah. Villa Joséphine, located on the Old Mountain, is certainly a real treat with impeccable service and style.
Where’s best to grab coffee?
Les Insolites! We might be a bookshop but we also have a cafe which serves the best coffee in town.
A cold beer?
Situated by the ocean is Quai Sud, a restaurant which is also perfect for a cold beer. Don’t forget to order the fresh fish there too!