As befits a royal resort, Ifrane is quite impressive in itself: the town is squeaky clean, with broad suburban streets and lake-studded parks. The prestigious institute of Al Akhawayn is the other landmark of the town, mirroring its architecture and affluent feel.
Ifrane – the town
The town is a pleasant place to walk around – the streets are squeaky clean and brilliantly lit by illuminated globes, the parks and flowerbeds impeccably tidy.
The landmark of the resort is a stone lion that sits on a patch of grass near the Hotel Chamonix. Legend has it that the lion was carved by an Italian or German prisoner of World War II – Ifrane was briefly used as a prisoner camp. It is something of a ritual for day trippers in Ifrane to have their picture taken with the stone lion, so don’t miss out on this tradition!
Ifrane – Al Akhawayn University
The Al Akhawayn University, at the northern edge of town, is a showcase of Moroccan Education. The name of the University, Al Akhawayn (brothers in Arabic), refers to its foundation in 1995 by the two Kings: the late Hassan II of Morocco and King Fahd of Saudi Arabia. This novel creation had among its aims the promotion of tolerance between faiths.
The university is partly funded by the United States and the British Council. It is the only one of its kind in Morocco to have English as its language of instruction. In fact, the whole undergraduate and postgraduate curricula are modelled on the American system of higher education.
The university was designed by Michel Pinseau, the French architect behind the great showpiece that is the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca. Keen to mirror the style and architecture of Ifrane, he went for chalet-style buildings, with tiled roofs and cream walls. Visit on weekday afternoons when there are plenty of students who are only too willing to show you around.