Dear readers and visitors,
You are holding in your hands, either in its physical or digital form, this City Guide which will allow you to better know and navigate through the city of Abidjan, our economic capital and the window by which the world sees Côte d’Ivoire.
Abidjan is a sprawling city with a unique charm that has for many decades been labeled with names that speak volumes about its attractiveness, such as: “The Pearl of the Lagoon”, “Little Manhattan” or “The Pearl of Lights”. This has been reinforced by the ministry’s initiative to boost the tourism industry “Sublime Côte d’Ivoire”, which promotes Abidjan’s ambition to become a truly smart city, a city of the future in the present, here and ready for you now.
Abidjan is a metropolis that fully embraces its rich history with its very active cultural and artistic scene, all the while setting the tone as a great destination for business and leisure.
This City Guide, created by Facebook, gives a glimpse into the world of Abidjan by showcasing some of the best things it has to offer. This includes a close-up on Ivorian foods, with its multitude of indoor and outdoor restaurants (commonly called maquis), and the waterfront venues offering magnificent views onto the Atlantic Ocean and the beautiful lagoon. Grand Bassam and Assinie, which are part of the greater Abidjan area, are popular seaside resort areas.
The urban city of Abidjan is also known as one of the most attractive business hubs on the African continent. And when the sun goes down, you can experience Abidjan-by-night and see how Ivorians have fun.
The Museum of Civilization and the Abidjan Craft Centre (CAVA) are an invitation to a journey through time, thanks to their cultural and handcrafted works.
Finally, you will know from reading this guide that the charm of the city comes from the city’s communities that make up the social fabric day by day, and that there is nothing deceptive about the actions they carry out on a daily basis, but rather a real solidarity and enthusiasm that we are happy to see expressed on Facebook as well physically in the city.
We hope you enjoy reading this guide and discovering Abidjan, the cornerstone of “Sublime Côte d’Ivoire”.
We’re waiting for you: welcome to our home and yours!
Siandou Fofana, Minister of Tourism and Leisure Côte d’Ivoire
FOREWORD by Marguerite Abouet
ABIDJAN IS THE SWEETEST CITY IN THE WORLD
Ivorians like to say: “Everything always starts with a first time.” From your very first steps in this city, you will feel right at home and be greeted by its strong sense of hospitality as you embark on a trip to new, warm, and bustling lands. In no time at all, you will feel as comfortable as if you have lived there your entire life and will be ready to dive into all the fun without hesitation. Welcome to Abidjan… or Babi, for those in the know.
Abidjan is the sweetest city in the world…because of its way of life. Abidjan is less of an actual place and more like a state of mind. You will come to understand that living in Abidjan means enjoying every minute for all it’s worth. This city plays centre stage to a scene where they love to banter, to laugh about everything, to play on words, and just have a good time. There is a spirit of spontaneous and mutual kindness that makes it easy to meet people and find a good reason to get together. The style of living in the moment is infectious; you’ll love it and it will make you want to stay.
Abidjan is the sweetest city in the world… because of its cosmopolitan, supercharged, and highly interactive inhabitants with whom the city shares its joys, sorrows, desires, and hopes. It’s almost as if Abidjan was inspired by their daily lives. After passing through the police and customs, you will discover the type of people of Abidjan, you will notice the clashes with the bag carriers or the drivers of unregistered cars. This constant proximity will introduce you to the pulses of carefree optimism and vibrant energy. In most cases, fortunately, you will quickly forget the unpleasantness. Prepare yourself for the worst but expect the best. Then there is always the famous phrase, “we are together!” (in French: “on est ensemble!”) which is so popular with Ivorians, that it will quickly take place in your vocabulary.
Abidjan is the sweetest city in the world… because of the language spoken by most of the population. You will hear the persistent echo of Nouchi, the street slang of Abidjan. You will no longer ignore that “gazer” in Nouchi means to go out clubbing, that “s’enjailler” in Nouchi means having a good time, and that “boucantiers” refers to those who have enough money to share with everyone, and that “faire leur farotage” means to show off. Don’t be surprised if someone asks, “On dit quoi!”, which literally means: “what do we say?” and is instantly answered by a “Ya foye”, which means “it’s all good”.
Abidjan is the sweetest city in the world… because of its bubbling artistic creativity, honoured by many contemporary art galleries, foundations, showrooms, and museums that welcome talented artists from the country and the entire continent.
Abidjan is the sweetest city in the world…because of the vast and rich cuisine it shares with its neighbouring countries and the rest of the world. Take some time to settle down somewhere in the shade to take a small local snack and wash it down with a nice cold beer. You will absolutely love the local dishes such as Garba, chicken Kedjénou, Fried Fish with Alloco, Sauce graine (or Palm soup as it is called in neighbouring Ghana), and many others local favourites in one of the open-air restaurants, typically called maquis, that line the streets. There is something for everyone, no matter your taste preferences or your budget, from common spots to the most luxurious hotspots. But if it ever gets too hot, the air-conditioned restaurants will offer you the same traditional dishes. Globalisation, of course, will allow you to also find beef bourguignon, steak tartare, pizzas, and hamburgers.
Abidjan is the sweetest city in the world…because of its nightclubs, air-conditioned bars, drinking spots and dance maquis—which will hit you hard with high decibels of music genres such as coupé-décalé, Zouglou and much more. You can put your faith in the DJs who will compete with one another to showcase their talents with the sole aim of keeping you entertained for as long as possible and they will do it with a smile.
When you get back to your hotel in the early morning, at about the same time as the fresh morning air hits you, the taxi driver will take the Félix Houphouët-Boigny Bridge. Still “guinze” (drunk) you will be surprised by the futuristic skyscrapers adorned with advertisements and, for a moment, you will think you are in Manhattan, New York. But only for a moment because Babi, gentle, calm and now so easy to love, will come back to life in a few hours to become unbridled and unpredictable again. “Babi the beautiful” will not have finished bewildering you. Abidjan still deserves many more compliments, if only to give you an irresistible desire to visit this city.
Marguerite Abouet an Ivorian writer, screenwriter and director, and author of the successful comic strip Aya de Yopougon.