Grand Bassam and Abidjan

Abidjan Travel Blog

 › entry 24 of 26 › view all entries
Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire
May 30, 2010
Hotel: Ibis Plateau, Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire
We had nearly two full days to spend in Abidjan and wondered what to do.  Originally we had planned on going out to Grand Bassam, the old French colonial capital but after yesterday didn't want to mess with any more checkpoints!  It was Sunday though so hopefully the guards wouldn't be out today.  We had breakfast at the hotel, at 10 EUR a little pricey but they had excellent chocolate croissants, omelettes and yogurt.
Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire
  After breakfast we caught a cab over to Trechville to find a shared taxi.  What luck, as we pull up to the gare routiere, there is a bus to Bassam leaving immediately!  We had a chance to see Abidjan better now during the daylight.. it still seemed very clean and modern, wide boulevards, all the cars and even the shared taxis looked in good shape.

The bus ride (400 CFA) out to Bassam only took about 45 minutes, no checkpoints.  All along the route there were all these beach shacks and bars surrounded by coconut palms,  normally I thought they would be busy on the weekend with people getting out of town.  Just west of Bassam, there was row after row of artisans stalls selling woodcarvings, furniture, paintings, etc.  We planned on coming back here on our way out of town to look for some masks.
Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire
  We pull into the bus station, and hear all this music and chanting.. some parade going on in town. 

We walked the 2kms or so across the bridge to Ancien Bassam, the old French capital of Cote d'Ivoire built out on a strip of sand.  The capital had been abandoned after an outbreak of yellow fever.. the colonial buildings left to rot.  Some are still in good condition and had been maintained, but most were still a wreck, missing roofs, walls and doors.  Still very scenic though.  We had a couple of 'friends' follow us for awhile offering to guide us, but we had a map and the area really isn't very big, only 2-3 blocks wide.  The buildings reminded us of French Guiana but they were in much worse shape here even though they were newer.

After wandering around for an hour or so, we caught a cab out to the artisans stalls.
Cathedral, Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire
. Business must be slow as we were immediately surrounded by vendors.  We were looking for masks though, and were led to one of the stalls which was lined with old masks, spooky and odd.  This is what I was looking for, and spent awhile browsing for some masks before picking out two of them.  Now came to the fun/tough part of bargaining and the hard sell.  Originally they quote $280, just outrageous.  I can buy the masks at home for maybe half that!  I'm not fresh off the truck, I know bargaining in Africa works!  So I start with an equally low number.. back and forth we go, finally I said I wouldn't pay more than 30000 CFA ($60) for the two of them, get up to walk out (there were lots of other mask stalls we hadn't seen) but then they agree to the $60.

We wander around a few more stalls, the quality is very good before waving down a passing shared taxi headed back to Abidjan.
Cathedral, Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire
  Good condition Peugeot, it even has window handles!  The ride back into town is easy, we get out in Treichville then head over to the Blvd Marseille where we had seen lots of restaurants.  It was Sunday though and many were closed.  We found one open overlooking the (stinky) bay and refineries where we ordered chicken kedjougou (local dish, spicy soup with rice).  Most of the restaurants here look like they're setup for nighttime.  I'm sure many suffered during the civil war since 2002, all the tourists and most expats left the country then.

After lunch, back to the hotel and we start wandering around Le Plateau.  The central business district is totally dead on Sunday.. we're walking down the middle of the road with no traffic and few people.  The main cathedral is just a few blocks away from our hotel.
Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire
  Abidjan has some daring architecture, the church is huge sweeping structure with impressive stained glass windows.  From the church, we wander the deserted streets of Abidjan, searching for somewhere to get a drink, but absolutely nothing is open.   We wander all the way down to the water taxi dock, surely something is open here!  But still no luck, no one selling drinks anyway.  We buy a water taxi ticket, and wait and wait, the few water taxis running today are all going to different parts of the city, except the part we want to go to just across the way!  Finally we give up and just catch a taxi over to Treichville.  We had seen a supermarket from the bus this morning, they had looked open and we wanted to buy some bubble wrap/tape for wrapping my kora.


The Super Hyat supermarket was open, turned out it was attached to a mini-mall that was very popular with expats.  We saw lots of  families and teenagers here, many
French and a surprising number of Lebanese.  This seems to be the place to go on Sundays!  There was a Steers and Debonairs burger/pizza place here, we had burgers for dinner.  After three weeks of travelling we were craving fast food, and actually the burgers were very good!  There was also an Internet cafe in the mall, we spent awhile here catching up before heading back to our hotel.
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Abidjan, Cote dIvoire
Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire
Abidjan, Cote dIvoire
Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire
Abidjan, Cote dIvoire
Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire
Cathedral, Abidjan, Cote dIvoire
Cathedral, Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire
Cathedral, Abidjan, Cote dIvoire
Cathedral, Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire
Abidjan, Cote dIvoire
Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire
Le Pyramide, Abidjan
Le Pyramide, Abidjan
Abidjan
photo by: Bluenose