Cut in two by the wide river valley of the Oued Boufekrane, MEKNES is a sprawling, prosperous provincial city. Monuments from its past - dominated by the extraordinary creations of Moulay Ismail justify a day's rambling exploration, as do the varied and busy souks of it Medina. In addition, the Ville Nouvelle is pleasant and easy to handle, and there is the appeal of Roman Volubilis, within easy short bus or taxi distance. To get the most out of the city's monuments and the atmosphere of the Medina and souks, it's best to visit before heading to Fes. Getting a grasp of Meknes prepares you a little for the drama of Fes, and it certainly helps give an idea of quality (and prices) for crafts shopping; visited second, it is inevitably a little disappointing by comparison.