As my time in Cote d’Ivoire comes to a close, every moment feels a bit more precious; after almost 3 years here, Abidjan has begun to feel like home. I have now entered the season of lasts, in which every sunset is a reminder of how few Abidjan sunsets I have left. And of course, it seems that I am just now discovering the many Ivorian hidden gems I will not get to visit. I may not be able to control the passage of time, I can at least revisit some of my favorite places one last time.
With that in mind, I planned a last trip to Grand-Bassam with my dear friend (more like chosen family now) and her son (one of Big Foot’s friends). Grand-Bassam, the first colonial capital of Cote d’Ivoire, is a historic town and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The roundabout at the entrance of the town boasts a gorgeous white stone statue of 3 women commemorating the Women’s March on Grand-Bassam. It is one of my favorite landmarks here, even though I can never manage to get a good picture from the car.
Although I have visited Bassam on several occasions, this visit held all the emotional significance of being my last, and it was just as lovely as I hoped.
On this instance, I found an amazing Airbnb located very close to the Artists’ Center , which was a plus for me as I like to shop for local art such as masks, carvings, and paintings. Upon our arrival, we were greeted at the car, and a young man quickly took our luggage to the room. Considering the heat, it was an especially nice surprise to find cold water waiting for us in the mini fridge. Before leaving us to get settled, the young man even asked if we wanted him to take us on a walk around the neighborhood. Since we were already familiar with the area, we declined.
The property is absolutely beautiful, and Jean-Marc, the host, is so pleasant that you shouldn’t be surprised if he offers you a drink while you relax on the terrace. And for me, it felt extra special to find out that he was from the same Swiss town in which I grew up. I also highly recommend that you take advantage of the plentiful and affordable (2000 FCFA/$3.75) breakfast that Henri, the caretaker, serves every morning.
The setting is picturesque, with gorgeous flowers everywhere and a beautiful view. You can even try your luck and see if the fish will bite. There are 3 very gentle dogs on the property as well as plenty of space to run, so our boys had a lovely time being “wild children”.
The location is perfect as you are just a few minutes’ walk away from the aforementioned artist’s center, as well as from a wonderful pizzeria, le Quai, which serves Ivorian dishes as well, including a very tasty poulet Kedjenou.
If you are looking for something a bit fancier, try La Case Bleue just a little bit further down the street and enjoy the artwork on the wall, which they change periodically.
Looking for some time in the sun? One of our favorite places to go is La Nouvelle Paillotte. This resort is right by the ocean. You can either purchase a day pass (about 10000 FCFA per person) or simply buy food and beverages to enjoy. Then, you can enjoy the pools (1 regular and 1 for kids) or lounge all day while watching the waves. A word of caution: the pool water is pretty salty, so if your eyes are sensitive, you’ll want to bring goggles.
The ocean in Bassam is too rough to swim, but beautiful to watch. The hotel’s property is surrounded by a fence keeping the people selling various items away, unless you choose to call them over. There are also swings for children to play, as well as a small soccer space and a foosball (aka table football) table. If you are really lucky, you might even catch a small group of local traditional dancers/acrobats and their drummer.
If you prefer a hotel, I definitely recommend La Madrague. It is a lovely place, and the owner is a very friendly woman. Rooms are pretty and spotless, and I loved the large shower. There are two pools here as well, and the prix fixe breakfast (4500 FCFA/$8.42) served ocean side is a lovely way to start the day. During my visit there for one of our long weekends, I had such a relaxing time that I never left the property. With the exception of one overcooked steak, all of the meals were delicious, there was no need to go anywhere.
Overall, I highly recommend visiting Grand-Bassam. I definitely wish I could go again.