By the Atlantic shores

What makes a place unforgettable? Its essence, the manner in which it touched you, or the fact that it was never meant to be on the itinerary in the first place. Abidjan, a sprawling, green and beautiful city on the Ebrie lagoon in Cote d’Ivoire, became unforgettable for these and many other reasons.

Maybe, as some of you read this, you would need to locate the city on a map — Abidjan is a coastal city on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean in Ivory Coast in West Africa.

Once the capital of Ivory Coast, it is today its second-largest city. Before landing there, I never knew that it is often called the ‘Paris of West Africa’. It might not have the lyrical beauty and majestic buildings of Paris, but Abidjan is no doubt a beautiful city. Built around the 100 km or 63 mile long lagoon, the city resides on many converging peninsulas, connected by bridges.

abidjan

The broad Ebrie lagoon is breathtaking, if you ignore the murky patches. The lagoon connects to the Atlantic Ocean through the Virdi Canal, making Abidjan a busy port. It is today a bustling cosmopolitan city with six-lane highways, considered a cultural hub of West Africa.

abid 2

As one crisscrosses the city, the St. Paul’s Cathedral catches the eye. Imposing with a towering statue of the Pope giving benediction at its entrance, it cannot be missed. There is an altar in the open vast expanse that surrounds the Cathedral. Inside, the modern building has beautiful glass paintings. When we visited, the main altar area was under repair, yet a sense of calm and serenity prevailed.

SaintPaul

A drive to Grand Bassam, 40 km from Abidjan, is a must. Feel the splash of the Atlantic and touch the pulse of the locals. This old city was the French colonial capital from 1893 to 1899; today it is a resort town. On Sundays, hordes of people descend on the beaches to relax. ‘La Playa’, a Spanish restaurant, offers a fabulous plate of something akin to a seafood biryani. The ocean gurgles nearby, while one can summon a hawker to drink fresh tender coconut water or buy African handicrafts during the meal.

Grand-Bassam-Plage

Abidjan is a great place to buy African handicrafts, including masks, walking sticks, fabric and traditional African robes. The colors and patterns are a kaleidoscope, and even if you don’t want to shop, it is fascinating to simply look. Food is another fabulous item on the agenda in Abidjan. There is a substantial expat population as it is the headquarters of the African Development Bank, and has a large UN presence.

Restaurants offering all the cuisines of the world are available in plenty. For authentic Indian food, head to ‘Delhi Durbar’ and for Chinese to ‘Le Beijing’.

The unforeseen stop at Abidjan was a discovery — of a place, its pulse, its people and its spirit. That is why it became unforgettable, because embracing the unexpected is what journeys are all about.

Photos of St Paul's Cathedral and Grand Bassam from en.wikipedia.org.

12 Comments Add yours

  1. There are still many places in this world that have unrecognized beauty and wonder. Sometimes, they ought to remain that way in order to preserve its nature and beauty.

    ❀ Grace ❀

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    1. Sadhna Shanker says:

      I agree

      Like

  2. franckxethee says:

    I love coastal cities since there’s something calming with the waters. The place looks really scenic too.

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    1. Sadhna Shanker says:

      thanks

      Liked by 1 person

  3. chewoutloud says:

    Looks like a beautiful discovery of places and shops! I love artwork that’s done by local hands. The Ivory Coast seems so beautiful.

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    1. Sadhna Shanker says:

      It was an amazing discovery for me too!

      Like

  4. Indian food in Ivory Coast too?! We don’t hear a lot about tourism in most parts of Africa but thankfully bloggers like you are letting us know more about that gorgeous continent.

    Like

    1. Sadhna Shanker says:

      Yes it is a fabulous continent.

      Like

  5. Shell says:

    I’ve heard that the Ivory Coast is a beautiful place to visit and I see now that it is…. thanks for sharing these photos with us….

    Like

    1. Sadhna Shanker says:

      Yes it is pretty

      Like

  6. Todd says:

    Wonderful pictures. I didn’t know much about Ivory Coast before so it was really interesting to read a post where nearly everything was new to me.

    Also, now I will never be able to think of paella as anything but seafood biryani. 🙂

    Like

    1. Sadhna Shanker says:

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

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