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There’s a saying that goes: “Morocco is the closest furthest away place” because in just under four hours from London, you can be in the middle of medinas and riads so bustling and charming, you’ll feel worlds away from your desk and Pret sandwich. But, just when I thought Yves Saint Laurent’s Majorelle Garden (think lush greenery against Yves Klein blue coloured buildings) in Marrakech was the most photo-worthy place in the country, I stumbled across Morocco’s best-kept secret: Chefchaouen.
Situated in the Rif Mountains, Chefchaouen literally translates to ‘The Blue City’ as every building in the old quarter has been a shade of blue since they were first painted in the 1930s. Affectionately known as ‘The Blue Pearl’, residents will happily tell you that the tradition first came to be because Jewish refugees wanted the city to symbolise heaven, or because the colour blue is meant to ward off mosquitos – it depends who you ask. And every year, new coats of paint made from local blue henna dye are washed over the houses to keep the heritage going.
You can get there in about two hours from Tangier (which is what I did in a shared six-people taxi for 600 dirhams/£43), four hours from Fez and six from Casablanca, so go off the beaten track and expect some serious geotag stalking on Insta.