Monday, 11 February 2008

Costa del Couscous.

The three, all of whom have moved to Essaouira in the past year, are among tens of thousands of European citizens now moving to what is becoming the hottest retirement destination in the world: the "Costa del Couscous".
"Once everyone spoke about the Cote d'Azur, then the Costa del Sol, now it is Morocco," said Anne Locquet, an estate agent in Essaouira. "They are pouring in. More and more every day."
Although British, Italian and Spanish immigrants are among the wave of newcomers, the vast majority are French. Attracted by the sun, cheap property and tax breaks, their numbers have rocketed in the past three years. There are cheap flights, and French is widely spoken in the former colony that retains strong cultural links - couscous was recently voted the most popular single dish in France.
a former fighter pilot who recently arrived in the city of Fez, said that he was leaving behind a "sad and expensive" France.
In Marrakesh, local authorities say that they have issued 8000 residence permits to French nationals, many retired.
The Institut Francais, the French Government's cultural centre in the city, is now tailoring parts of its programme to suit elderly citizens. In Meknes, a small industrial city near Fez, in the north of Morocco, 1000 foreigners - most of them from France - have now registered with the town hall. As only a fraction register, the total number of retired French in Morocco is not known, but some estimates put it as high as 50,000.
"It has exploded exponentially," said Laurent Paul Alteresco, director of, an estate agency that offers retirement properties in Morocco. "We get 30,000 [website] visitors and 400 serious inquiries a week."
Monique Benotman, a former teacher from Jura has been in Essaouira for 18 months. She said she wanted "some sun and to do some good" and now teaches French to poor children in the streets around her flat in the old part of the city.

Evelyne Feraud, from Aix-en-Provence in the south of France, has launched a jewellery workshop, targeting her compatriots who visit Essaouira as tourists. "The problem in France is tax and all the regulation. It is much easier here. Provence is beautiful but expensive. If I could have all I have here back home, I would have stayed there - but I can't."



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