Morocco: Casablanca, a multiple city of contrasts

QWhatever the rumor says, Casablanca has a natural grace. You will find it away from the hustle and bustle of the main boulevards. This Casablanca cannot be seen at first glance. It belongs to historic districts that are awash with a hypnotic and comforting atmosphere. First contact, after the airport: the medina Sidi Belyout, along the boulevard Houphouët-Boigny. The visitor to the continent will not be out of place. It plunges into narrow streets framed by shops of all kinds.

Casablanca, city of the mix

Between souvenir stalls and everyday shops, he will be delighted to see the ancestors of these delightfully oriental alleys that sometimes lead to small openings where people gather by nationality. Here the Ivorians, there the Senegalese, furthermore the Malians. They talk to each other and reproduce a real neighborhood life as there is less and less of it. We see them making mats, braids in all styles for whoever wants it.

Sitting on stools, they also apply endless false eyelashes. Take the time to see how these busy women respond to requests from locals or tourists seeking Africa. They go there with a good heart, like in the country. At first glance, you will see the difference between clients who have become particularly nervous about the braiding process and those who are used to the practice.

It is at human level that we see that Casablanca is a city of hybridization, crossing, mixing. But even more so by getting up to see it from the sky or diving into its entrails. Radically different observation posts, but offering you privileged exposure and beautiful settings.

Casa, business city

To see Casablanca from above, a visit to the Sofitel Tour Blanche is a must. The establishment lives up to its name. It is an immaculate tower that dominates the city, an elongated rectangle, visible from afar in its sleek, elegant design style. There is something special about this hotel that jumps out at you from the first step in the lobby. It does not bear the signature of the branches of this chain, is generally rather withdrawn into itself and not open to their immediate surroundings, in order to better meet the demands of business people.

Casa, city of art

The White Tower is an exception to this rule. The decoration plays with many skylights, large cushions in colored velvet, parma, pink, yellow, giving the felt spirit of a very feminine inspiration, far from the somewhat clinical feel of these establishments aimed at the clientele of white collar.

The main attraction of the hotel is the contemporary African art that has taken up residence there. The works and installations of the famous Gallery 38 occupy the common areas and the walls. Confirmed or future artists are invited to exhibit: Soly Cissé, Barthélémy Toguo, Dominique Zinkpè, Amina Benboutcha or Mohamed Thara turn the White Tower into an art center and a concentrate of Africa. During our visit, the works of Médéric Turay were presented there and asked what the . is called, to improvecatering business

In his paintings and installations, the Ivorian artist invites you to take a walk, to reflect on the use of color, by feeding our questions about the dreams and aspirations of the African population.

This vintage is noticeable, but you have to go upstairs to understand the relevance of our recommendation: the rooms offer you a breathtaking view of Casablanca. What a view ! Old leaning houses are shared with modern constructions. How you get tired of the collection of whites that make the legend of the city.

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City to discover from above

Don’t miss out on the on the roof, if possible at sunset, when it is most glorious. From this apex, the light of the glowing sky creates a mystery that stirs your imagination. On the roof terrace you can also admire the transformation of the city from the breathtaking view.

You will see the fishing harbor that is about to be moved to make way for a marina soon. Recognizable from a nearby competition, you’ll find the Royal Mansour imposing its masses. Yes, the Moroccan Palace establishes a second address in Casablanca, to build the luxury hotel that Morocco’s economic capital does not have. At the moment, little is known about this impressive building as a fortress, except that in 2015 the owners decided to destroy the establishment, which was only a 5 star, to build a palace identical to Marrakech.

Casa resists

Hard to believe, but Casablanca did not yet have prestigious houses that could welcome international stars, who prefer Marrakech. It had no setting to host CAC 40 bosses and indulge an extremely discerning audience with the expected honors. That will soon happen with this very upscale establishment opening soon.

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Still from the roof terrace you look out over the Art Deco district, the renovation of which contributes to the preservation of the heritage. The decor seems even more gigantic with the spectacular view of the grand mosque. Posed majestically, solemnly and gracefully simple, the largest mosque in the continent, and the third largest in the world, is a must. The impressive building forms a monumental ensemble for its size and for the pride it inspires in Casablancans.

Casa, city of passion

What strikes the visitor is the deep and ingrained attachment of its inhabitants to their country and their city of 6 million inhabitants. To understand the white city, you have to dive into the guts and not rely a bit easily on a priori. The locals know. In particular, the members of Casamémoire who show a strong desire to share their passion for the history and architecture of their city with a wide audience. Among them is Abdellatif Fawzi.

The man is discreet. He does not talk about himself, completely devoted to the discovery of the city, so much does he show him love. The bushy hair, behind his thick glasses, his eyes wrinkle with greed, shaking your hand, eager to let you discover his city.

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follow the leader

You just start opening your mouth to ask a few questions that you would rather keep quiet to listen to the scholar. Inexhaustible and precise in small and large things, he describes his city with eloquence through the architecture of the Habous and the faculty it has had to reinvent itself. He tells you how different populations came together and the ability of his beloved city to quickly adapt to the demands of a global city.

Entering the Habous neighborhood with Abdellatif is like putting a wireless noise canceling headset on your ears. It’s like going from tumult to the sound of silence. Entering this city takes you away from the frenzy of the city and synchronizes you with the energetic pace of the medina, which has the paradox of being calming. With big strides, Abdellatif Fawzi leads you in the alleys of stories where history and anecdotes are intertwined. He will tell you how the architects Brion and Cadet built the district in 1918 to fight against ill health and overcrowding.

Over the 30 years of the Habous’s construction, the architects will compete with their imaginations to design homes with traditional references that marry the nascent modernity of the early 20th century.and century with the introduction of sewage, reinforced concrete and electricity. You walk with Abdellatif Fawzi on foot through the alleys, squares and arcades to assess the architectural ensemble that is undoubtedly a success.

Our guide creates undulating images with his verbal percussion, sometimes reproducing through gestures and his obsession with the big story, everyday life of the last century. Its arms twist to show you an architectural finesse or a particular public layout.

Casa, city of history and memory

When you hear him evoke the life of Casablancais from different periods, in these old narrow streets full of poetry, you sometimes suspect that he is absorbed in the lives of the inhabitants of that time. However, the Habous is also a quiet market with small shops selling typical Moroccan products and the famous pastries of “Chez Bennis” which are worth a visit in this picturesque district alone. If you go to Casablanca, do not hesitate to call on the Casamémoire association, the essential work it does is the guarantee of supporting the preservation of the heritage in harmony with the modernization of the city.

Casablanca is an impressive bustling center. Culture, business, leisure, sports. You can also travel the world through gastronomy. Except Moroccan cuisine. No one is a prophet in his country, we usually say? Again the adage is verified.

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Why does Casablanca have no restaurants serving local cuisine? The answer lies in mommy’s secrets, passed down from generation to generation. Home cooking offers incomparable flavors. This is the reason for the absence of local catering, which cannot compete with the mastery of the oumi and dada. The opening of Dar Dada at the end of 2019 put an end to this rarity.

This quiet riad, at the end of a typical alley of the medina, is enchanting. Its charm grabs you as soon as you walk through the door. The central patio is dominated by a very high ceiling that allows for a spacious first floor where lovers like to nestle to hide their happiness. The alcoves around the room provide more privacy for business dinners. Salads, pastilla, méchoui, tagine, couscous are good outfits and some of them will make you sing with happiness and vibrate with pleasure. We recommend this place because its magic is to make you forget the passing of time and give you a taste of real life. The same goes for a hotel that deserves to be visited: The Doge, a hotel that is a bit old-fashioned.

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As soon as you set foot in this house, nestled in the heart of the Art Deco district, you will be overwhelmed by the charm, taste and serenity that emanate from the place. You know this sweet feeling of marking a break, as if the hands of a clock are going in the opposite direction. Each Art Deco room is elegantly dressed in velvet, curtains and woodwork in warm tones that add cheerful notes. This beautiful home is comfortable and so is the Jasmine, a restaurant serving wonderful fusion cuisine between north and south, as well as the rooftop cafe. You will not leave Le Doge without going under the gazebo of the roof terrace. Sketching a simple map on these heights, your gaze stretched to the horizon of the disappearing lines of the roofs of the white city, with the natural light of the blue sky as your companion, is a real pleasure. You will feel the sense of fullness that overwhelms this endearing 5-star hotel, which combines modern comfort and old world charm. Like Casablanca, it will leave an indelible impression on you.

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