Famous Rose Festival at KELAÂT M’GOUNA each may, crowds descend on the town of Kelaât M’Gouna in southern Morocco to celebrate the harvest of Damask roses from the nearby Dadès and M'Goun valleys. The roses are not farmed in fields as you might see in the south of France around Grasse, but are simply hedgerow plants that bloom once a year. French essential oil producers descend on the area at harvest time and set up stills in the fields. Every year thousands of tons of petals of rosa damascena are distilled in the big copper pots. Rosewater is the main product, but it's the essential oil, in fact a byproduct of the process, that is so valuable. That's taken back to France and sold to perfume and cosmetic houses; it's extremely expensive. The retail price of just 3ml, or half a teaspoon, costs over 150 Euros. The essential oil is extremely difficult to find in Morocco, and simply isn't available in El Kelaa M'Gouna at all. But you can find rosewater and lots of pink face and body creams. In countryside homes, it's not unusual to see whole rooms knee-deep in rosebuds and petals that are left to dry. Moroccan women use rosewater on their faces (it's great for combatting wrinkles!), and the dried buds can be mixed with ghassoul (clay) in facial and hair products. It's also used in flower water shakers at celebrations, and spice merchants add dried buds to ras el-hanoot, used in cooking. Rosewater from El Kelaa M'Gouna is available everywhere in the Fez Medina and is very cheap (around Dh10 for a 200ml bottle). Moroccans make their own rosewater at this time of year, when you can see shops selling nothing but rosepetals, and small zinc stills are widely available.