Ouarzazate (pronounced "War-za-zat") is a French creation -- a once isolated military outpost that still exudes a frontier-type atmosphere despite its position as the major administrative center of the region. Discovered by Hollywood in the 1960s and 1970s, hotel developers flocked to the town during the 1980s and embarked on a hotel-building spree in anticipation of a tourism boom that has never really risen to the expected heights. There are, however, a number of film studios based in the town that attract their fair share of big-budget productions, and when combined with a steady stream of overnighting tour buses, the town's hotels seem to fill up nicely.

Ouarzazate for most travelers is simply a transit point en route to the desert or the High Atlas, but no matter how long your stay, you'll be struck by the town's pleasant lack of noise and hustle and the laid-back nature of its almost 50,000 inhabitants. Befitting its status as a regional center, Ouarzazate offers most modern facilities and services. Combine this with the city's few sights, consistently sunny days, and proximity to the region's attractions, and Ouarzazate can be a very pleasant base for a few days of exploring.