Visitors are drawn to Tangier because of its literary and artistic past coupled with its mysterious reputation as an international haven for spies. Tangier became a mecca for French painters in the nineteenth century, but the most famous artist associated with Tangier is the American writer Paul Bowles, whose first novel, The Sheltering Sky, was turned into a film by Bernardo Bertolucci. However, Beat writer William Burroughs also lived in Tangier during the 1950s and penned his most famous work, Naked Lunch, in the Hotel el-Muniria. Tennessee Williams, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Brion Gysin and the Rolling Stones also called Tangier home for short spells.
After a stroll through the Grand Socco, the plaza that serves as the gateway to Tangier´s medina, you can start your homage to your favorite artists at the Gran Café de Paris in the old medina’s busy central square, the Petit Socco. Bowles, Burroughs and their Beat friends gathered here to discuss life and literature while mingling among double agents and expats during the notorious time of international rule. Here, Tennessee Williams met one of Morocco’s most famous writers, Mohamed Choukri, author of a memoir titled Tennessee Williams in Tangier. The café provides an ideal place to observe the chaotic rhythms of the Petit Socco, where you can find people from all walks of life, rich and poor, foreign and local, merchants and businessmen.