It’s also a city of Hollywood worthy contrasts

On the road to Ouarzazate

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Most people have probably never even heard of the high desert city of Ouarzazate (home of the Atlas Film Studios) or the ancient fortress of Ait Benhaddou or the lush green palm oasis of Fint high quality replica handbags china , but directors such as Ridley Scott (“Gladiator” and “Kingdom of Heaven”), Martin Scorsese (“The Last Temptation of Christ” and “Kundun”), Oliver Stone (“Alexander”) and Mike Newell (“Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time”) certainly have.

It’s the Hollywood of Morocco, and all of these films were shot there.

The man who truly deserves a statue in Ouarzazate’s central square, however, is the great British filmmaker David Lean. It was Lean (and his crew) who first descended on the region and immortalized its vast, uninterrupted landscapes in the 1962 epic “Lawrence of Arabia.”

A decade later the legendary American director John Huston arrived. Equally awed by what he saw, Huston used the area for a multitude of locations including Sean Connery’s triumphal procession in “The Man Who Would Be King,” set before the ancient walled city of Ait Benhaddou, just 18 miles from downtown Ouarzazate.

Today Ouarzazate is one of the fastest growing cities in Morocco. It’s also a city of Hollywood worthy contrasts, where donkey driven carts clip clop their way past the entrance of Le Berber Palace Hotel , a grand establishment of elegant rooms and sweetly scented gardens, where Gucci sunglasses by the pool and Louis Vuitton luggage in the lobby is the order of the day.

The Hollywood experience Moroccan style is also accessible by booking a room at the Oscar Hotel. Its 58 cinema themed rooms and eight suites are actually located within the walls of the Atlas Film Studios, four miles from the center of town.

Anyone planning a stay at the Oscar can be replica louis vuitton handbags sure of rubbing shoulders with an entire film crew, lounging by the pool with would be starlets or sharing a martini in the Gladiator Bar with Ridley Scott.

It isn’t necessary to stay at the Oscar Hotel, however, to arrange a tour of the Atlas Studios and their expansive back lot. Visitors can stroll through sound stages and explore a vast array of slowly decaying sets and props, whether it’s a Roman palazzo replica louis vuitton bags from china from “Gladiator,” a Buddhist monastery from “Kundun,” a full scale Egyptian temple lined with crouching sphinxes (from some forgotten epic) of a jet fighter fake designer bags left over from the sequel to “Romancing the Stone.”

While it is possible to replica designer handbags fly directly to Ouarzazate, the truly adventurous way to get there replica louis vuitton bags is by car from Marrakech. This route involves taking a two lane highway known as the Tizi n Tichka Pass Road, which was built in 1920 during the period of French colonial rule.

Spectacular high quality designer replica handbags wholesale at every turn, this white knuckle, roller coaster of a road is traveled daily by every type of vehicle: from cars, SUVs and lumbering motor coaches to tanker trucks and motorcycles. And they all pass whenever they choose. Hiring a skilled driver as a guide on this road is a real asset.

By turns the landscape is arid and lush, dotted with picturesque Berber villages beneath the towering snow capped peaks of the Atlas Mountains. The road winds higher and higher until it reaches the highest pass in Morocco at an altitude of 7,417 feet. From there this ribbon of highway gracefully descends into the red clay region of the Moroccan high fake louis bag desert.

Shortly before reaching Ouarzazate there’s a turnoff that leads to Ait Benhaddou, which was designated a United Nations World Heritage Site in 1987. With its imposing fortifications, rising minarets and narrow passageways, Ait Benhaddou has provided the perfect exotic replica louis vuitton bags location for numerous films.

The only way to visit the city is by foot (either on one’s own or with a tour).

The jumping off point is the cheap louis vuitton bags from china small village of hotels, restaurants and craft shops that has grown up on the opposite side of the shallow river known as the Wadi Mellah. Wandering through Ait Benhaddou, with its labyrinth of walkways, is like being transported back to the magical era of Aladdin and the Arabian nights.

Because of its international clientele replica louis vuitton handbags , Ouarzazate has also become a center for fine dining. The Restaurant Mogador offers the perfect place for a relaxing rooftop luncheon directly across the street from the city’s old Kasbah. Specialties are fresh baked bread and a tajine (clay cooking pot) of beef with prunes.

But for a truly sumptuous dining experience the best place is Le Jardin des Aromes. Owner Madame Siham Rida and Chef Sara Ziad have taken traditional Moroccan cooking to the next level.

Their restaurant (a converted home in the traditional courtyard design) is an architectural delight of glimmering lights and intimate dining spaces all set off by a shimmering reflecting pool. The tajine of rabbit I had was remarkable, Designer Louis Vuitton Replica Handbags as Fake Louis Vuitton Replica Bags was the environment and the graciousness of the service.

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