Africa Series

Africa Fashion

Africa Mayors Shine

Angola Opens Doors

Berber Wedding

Cruise Africa

Paris of Africa

Pharaohs Lure Tourists

Magical Kenya

Queen of Sheba

South Africa by Rail

Tanzania Hosts ATA

Tunisia's Carthage

Dunns of Zululand

Zambia: Livingstone
and Victoria Falls

Uganda- East Africa
Update. Prof.. Thome
Nile Ivy Safaris
Namirembe Tours
Nabugabo Holiday Ctr.
Uganda Martyrs Trail


Learn about the Midroc Technology Group based in Addis Ababa in a new edition of Africa Travel magazine and DVD.


Cote d'Ivoire: From the Paris of Africa to its elegant Roman Cathedral
by Jerry W. Bird

Having heard our Associate Editor Muguette Goufrani sing the praises of her life and times in Cote d'Ivoire and other West African countries, I was full of anticipation as we boarded the Air Afrique jet at the Cotonou, Benin Airport, bound for the legendary Ivory Coast. As serendipity plays a big part in many of my African journeys, the first Ivorian we chanced to meet en route was a Mr. Gakpo, "The Lobster Man of Abidjan" (a possible song title), who kindly invited us to stay at his seaside inn the following week.

That opportunity was a special treat for several reasons, one being that the Inter Continental Hotel Ivoire was full to the rafters and rooftops, due to an Africa-wide financial summit. I'll never forget Mr. Gakpo's stadium sized outdoor dining area, open to the moist Atlantic breezes, and topped by a traditional West African thatched roof. While wining, dining and cracking red lobster shells, one can watch the ever-present fishing boats bobbing up and down in the waves, in search of fresh seafood for tomorrow's table.
Photo of the Atlantic coast, courtesy of Best of Africa Hotel. Photo below courtesy of Haury Tours< Abidjan.

What's more, the place never seems to close - allowing us to visit well into the wee hours. Thus, Abidjan's "Lobster Villa" became our staging point for one of the most event-filled weeks in my lifetime. At the time there was a major renovation and expansion of Mr. Gakpo's Beach Hotel in progress. For reservations and information phone (011) 225-27-40-86, fax 225-211-08

Meeting Therese Haury was another milestone. Like Mother Teresa of another era, this travel agent extraordinaire is dedicated to helping Ivorian villagers equip and supply local health clinics. Her souvenir- filled residence overlooks Abidjan, the Paris of West Africa. I plan to devote an issue to the elegant new homes and modern lifestyle I saw emerging, as this young giant of a city, the Paris of Africa, enters the new millennium.

We visited every district by taxi, which proved to be a relatively low cost mode of travel. Haury Tours operates two travel agency offices - one in the central lobby of Abidjan's 750- room Inter *Continental Hotel Ivoire.

During my first visit to the hotel, Manager Peter Janssen suggested we visit the 'basilica' at Yamoussoukro (the capital). Air Afrique showcased this 'wonder of the world' on Africa Travel Magazine's back cover in 1996, the same year as our trip. "You've come this far," I told myself, "why not go all the way?" So, when the sun rose over the coconut palms at Lobster Village the next morning, I decided, rather than fly or drive, we'd 'go native' and purchase tickets on the local bus.

Indiana Jones in Abidjan: A taxi took us to the bus station at Adjame, which was like something out of a Bogart or Indiana Jones movie - mingling crowds, a cacophony of sounds, street vendors everywhere - even a special room for the Muslim population to perform its ritual prayers. I didn't know it then, but there are several classes of buses available, and we chose the bargain version, a half day milk run, with countless stops and some unexpected adventures, which in retrospect made the journey more memorable.

Yamoussoukro the Capital
Arriving at Yamoussoukro, the elegant Hotel President, another Inter *Continental, became our center for a taxi tour of the city. After a refreshing lunch of aloco (bananas, onions and grilled fish), foutou (yams) topped by an icy cold, long-necked bottle of Flag beer at a local 'maquis,' (open air restaurant) we drove by the walled Houphouet- Boigny residential palace. Its version of a moat is a series of ponds occupied by a horde of hungry crocodiles. What a fantastic setting for the next James Bond or Indiana Jones movie.

Speaking of classic, grandiose settings, Yamoussoukro's basilica, a replica of St. Paul's Cathedral in Rome, lived up to its billings in the Air Afrique advertisement. Palatial grounds and marble columns gave it a regal presence - and 36 giant giant stained-glass windows, splashed a kaleidoscope of colors across the interior, in changing patterns. We vowed to spend at least one Christmas week in Cote d'Ivoire, to hear the choir and enjoy the blend of traditional European and exotic West African music.

I congratulated myself for turning over my camera to a local volunteer who stayed by our side for almost two hours. That way, for $30 US, we were free to take in the atmosphere, and visit every corner of one of Christianity's most awesome sites, while he recorded the occasion for posterity and future publication such as this. From these 36 treasured photographs, we have enough images to produce a fine coffee table style book. With much more to see and do in Abidjan, we chose a speedy bus for the return trip.

Jerry W. Bird is the Editor of Africa Travel Magazine. He is also editor of two Aviation/ Travel Magazines, Air Highways.

Muguette Goufrani, Africa Travel Magazine's Francophone Editor covers West African destinations and events in detail. Her native language is French and she has lived in five West African countries, working for Air Afrique, Royal Air Maroc and Citroen. As a Travel Agent, she worked in North Africa, where her family operates an inbound tour company, and later in Tahiti and Cambodia. Muguette has been a partner in the magazine since it was founded in 1995. E-mail Muguette with your travel experiences in Cote d'Ivoire and other West African destinations. We welcome your input.