City Focus: Abidjan Côte D’ Ivoire
Abidjan developed from what was once a coastal fishing village to become, until 1983 ,the nation of Cote d’Ivoire’s capital. It is the country’s largest city and principal port. Although Yamossoukro is now the capital, Abidjan remains the most important commercial and banking centre in the country. Affectionately called the “Paris of Africa”, it is one of the largest populated cities in West Africa with a major French speaking population. The city is sited on the Ébrié Lagoon, which is made up of numerous peninsulas that are linked by bridges. Today Abidjan’s seaport is known for exporting agricultural products including timber, cocoa, coffee, bananas, pineapples and manganese.
Abidjan is made even more beautiful by a several wide streets and green garden squares. There are a number of museums, research institutes and libraries that enhance the value of the city. Attractions such as St. Paul’s Cathedral, Hôtel Ivoire and Banco National Park lure tourists to the city.
Abidjan is well-connected internationally with regular flights on various airlines.
You may have a hard time trying to crack the transportation code. Public buses and woro-woro (shared taxis) ply fixed routes but it is easier to take a taxi. Taxis are reasonably priced although you may need to prompt some drivers to turn on their meter. Tariff number 2 only applies from midnight to 6 a.m. In the case that the meter is non-functional as you will sometimes find, it is wise to agree a fare before setting off. If you will be arriving at a fancy hotel, there should be free shuttle for you. If you want an exquisite view of the city and you are commuting between Le Plateau and Treichville, take a bateau-bus (boat-bus).
Things To Do
St. Paul’s Cathedral
The Cathedral with its very unique and innovative architecture is undoubtedly the best attraction on the Plateau in Abidjan. It is unlike any other regular ones, as one cannot really tell that this is a religious place just from looking at the exterior. Once inside, you are reminded of the basilica in Yamoussoukro. The stained glass is very well executed and worth seeing.
Shaped in the form of a pyramid and located right in the business centre of the city, La Pyramide is one of the most enterprising architectural structures in Abidjan. Today it houses a gym and many other offices.
Hôtel Ivoire was once a premium hotel in West Africa with facilities like 11 tennis courts, swimming pools, casinos, restaurants, grocery stores, nightclubs, sauna and bowling alley. In fact it was a township in itself. Even if today, it doesn’t attract too many guests, it’s worth a visit to remember the forgone glory.
Parc du Banco
The park is a rain forest reserve on the northwest edge of town that is great for walking. It has very pleasant walking trails, stately trees and a lake. The park also includes a picnic area, restaurant and an arboretum.
This is where you will find the rich people of Abidjan. So if you want to experience the opulence of the Abidjanese people, make sure to visit and see the sprawling, expensive mansions with gardens. The Presidential tower and Hôtel Ivoire are located in this area.
The Musée National is home to a dusty but interesting collection of traditional art and craft-work, including wooden statues and masks, pottery, ivory and bronze.
The Museum of Cote D’Ivoire
The Museum of Cote D’Ivoire will give you a quick expose on the city’s history and culture. The human and animal statuettes made from terracotta are extremely beautiful. There are also a number of wooden masks, Ivorian musical instruments and pottery items with the total collection adding to nearly 20,000 pieces.
The city of Abidjan hosts several festivals different times of the year encompassing music festivals, dance, pageants and film festivals. You would be lucky to catch one of these as they are usually very exhilarating.
Bar des Sports
Bar des Sports is a popular bar among French expatriates. The French designed interiors connect you instantly to France.
You can enjoy live jazz music on Thursdays nights.
This is the go-to club for the rich Abidjanise; plays Afro-Cuban music.
The real taste of Ivorian food is best served at the local food markets or those on the sidewalks. The staple food mainly consists of rice, cassava, yam and bread. However, where money is not a problem, there are restaurants in wealthy neighborhoods such as Plateau, Cocody, Deux Plateaux and Zone 4 that serve European and French cuisine. This includes Café Restaurant Oasis for African and European cuisine and La Cascade for African and French Cuisine.
Marché de Cocody
The top floor of the Marché de Cocody is geared for tourists with all the usual trinkets.
Marché de Treichville
The Marché de Treichville is not the best looking building, but inside it’s African to the core and well stocked. There is virtually everything that you can imagine being sold.
Where To Stay
Residence Ben Hotel
Ben residence offers studios and apartments fully equipped with kitchen and living area, all air conditioned. WIFI is complimentary. There is an outdoor swimming pool. The only drawback may be its distance from the city center.
This typical Novotel with its practical and clean features is situated in a great location and perfect for anyone that needs to do any business in the city centre. The hotel group provides a free shuttle to and from the airport. The food is good and service adequate.