Saint-Louis

For other places with the same name, see Saint Louis (disambiguation).

Saint-Louis is a city and a world heritage site on the Grande Cote in Northern Senegal.

Understand

Colonial architecture in old Saint-Louis.

The city of Saint-Louis is located about 260km north of Dakar on the coast and spreads across the mainland (Sor), Île de N’Dar (the Island), and the Langue de Barbarie Peninsula. The mainland is connected to the historical island, which is just 2km long and 400m wide, via the Pont Faidherbe Bridge, which was recently reconstructed, completed in November 2011. The Île de N’Dar is linked to the Langue de Barbarie Peninsula via the Pont Mustapha Malick Gaye Bridge, the Langue de Barbarie Peninsula is home to the beautiful beaches of the Hydrobase as well as part of Langue de Barbarie National Park. Also accessible from Saint-Louis are the Parc National des Oiseaux du Djoudj and the Réserve Spéciale de Faune de Guembeul.

Get in

By train

Although there are both tracks and a colonial railway station, trains have not served Saint-Louis for the last two decades and are unlikely to do to so in the near future.

By car

The easiest way to get to Saint-Louis from Dakar is in a sept-place, which is a seven-passenger station wagon. They leave from the main station in Dakar (also called Pompier). You wait at the station for the car to be full, which means the rest of the passengers are heading for Saint-Louis as well, so it's a direct trip. The going rate is about 5000 CFA. If you have your own car, from Dakar take Route N2 all the way to Saint-Louis. It is approximately 260km from Dakar.

Get around

Public Transport

You can usually count on taxis fares in Saint-Louis to be a solid fixed rate of 500 F CFA. From the garage (gare routiere) to downtown or at night expect to pay 600 F CFA. There is a fairly decent "car rapide" public transport system that shouldn't cost more than 100 F CFA for your average stretch. On the Island of Ndar, there are calesh rides designed for site-seeing tourists. However, most of the historic city is easily accessible by foot.

Bike and Scooter Rental

To see more of Saint-Louis, why not rent a scooter or a bicycle, this is a great way to cover more ground and to explore some places that you might not be able to reach on foot. Located on the corner of Rue Blanchot and Quai Roume on the Island. Scooters are available for 10000CFA/Day and bikes for 5000CFA/Day.

See

Island of Saint-Louis

Saint-Louis was founded in 1659 and named after the French King Louis XIV in the 1700s, it is the oldest city to be created by Europeans on the western coast of Africa and served as the capital of Senegal from 1872 to 1957. It played an important cultural and economic role in the whole of West Africa, a stroll around the Ville (as the cab drivers know it as) quickly reveals the French colonial influence. Many of the buildings hold their old character with many brightly colored buildings and beautiful balconies to be seen all around the Island. The Island was named a UNESCO world heritage site in 2000. Be sure to stop into the Syndicat d’Initiative of Saint Louis located in the Governance building opposite the bridge and pick up the urban walk they have mapped out.

Guet N'Dar

Walk to Guet Ndar, the fishing village that is located on the Langue de Barberie and watch the fisherman bring in their catch. If you're lucky, you might get a great deal on seafood. Dozens of trucks wait to buy up the fish (for as little as 500 CFA a crate) and transport them into the interior as far as Kaolack, Tambacounda and Mali. Local people carry the fish in baskets on their neck and on their heads. Women can be found smoking and drying fish next to the beach in vast cauldrons. Nearby very colorful pirogues are always under construction. It is possible to see nearly every stage from the first carvings to the final painting. If you walk into the residential district of Guet Ndar, you will see thousands of people trying to live their lives squeezed in a tiny area. The scene is very colorful and lively, but when you walk along the beach you will see the effects of overcrowding in the squalid sanitary conditions and insufficient trash disposal. There is a decent sized market in Guet Ndar, somewhat smaller than the larger Sor market two bridges away.

Saint-Louis International Jazz Festival

This annual event generally occurs in May but the event is slated to take place in June for 2011, the festival lasts about a week. This internationally renowned event attracts jazz musicians and visitors from around the world and is the most important jazz festival in Africa. The events of the festival take place all over town. Exact dates and programs can be found online at www.saintlouisjazz.com (in French).

Langue de Barbarie Peninsula

On the Langue de Barbarie Peninsula you can check out the fishing village of Guet N’Dar and watch the bustling fish market and catch glimpses of the colorful pirogues that are used for fishing. Further down on the Guet N’Dar is the fisherman cemetery and past that is the Hydrobase, a great place to spend a day at the beach. Occupying the very south end of the Peninsula is part of Langue de Barbarie National Park which is home to a variety of bird species.

Do

Guided Tours

There are two main tour operators that offer tours in and around the Saint-Louis area and northern Senegal, Sahel Decouverte and Saint Louis Jeunesse Voyages. Contact either of these for their offerings but some of the different daily tours include, a tour of the Island, the Parc National des Oiseaux du Djoudj, the Parc National de Langue de Barbarie and also a boat ride along the Senegal River to see mangrove trees. If you have more time there are longer trips available and it is best to contact the agencies below for the most up to date offerings. Another good resource is the Syndicat d’Initiative which also has a smaller offering of tours.

Culture

Pick up the monthly program brochure at the center, one of the hotels around Saint-Louis or the Syndicat d’Initiative.


Events

Saint-Louis International Jazz Festival

Held annually in May or June, see the description under the See section in this article.

Les Fanals

This festival is held each year between Christmas and New Years and is a night parade of lanterns, lit from within by candlelight that resemble carnival floats and are accompanied by songs and drums. This historic procession is unique to Saint-Louis and was initiated by the signares, who in colonial times were the colonists’ prestigious wives.

Learn

For those that are staying longer, classes in Wolof and French can be taken at the French Cultural Center, see the contact information above.

Buy

Saint-Louis offers a lot by way of shopping, you can check out the large market on the mainland as well as a smaller market on Guet N’Dar which if you look hard enough you can find boutiques filled with fabric down the side streets or you can check out any number of the small shops on the island to get your fix of locally made items and other tourist type offerings. Boutiques selling everything from water and candy to ice cream and basic staples can be found on just about every block as well throughout all of Saint-Louis.

Tourist Markets

There are many boutiques on the Island that sell locally made items, such as clothing, wood carvings, jewelry, post cards and many other Senegalese crafts. Check out Chez Adja Sokho Creations where the owner serves as designer and then has the designs made in Saint-Louis, located on Rue Blanchot and Rue Blaise Diagne. Also visit the fair trade shop of Keur Fall where the items in the store come from one of fifteen villages in the Diourbel region that make up an association called Ndem, the store is located on the Quai Roume. Another nice place to shop is the Galerie N’Dar, Cadeau and Souvenir Mama Africa, on Rue Blaise Diagne. You will also find an Artisanal Village on the main land of the Rue De La Corniche, be prepared to bargain when you visit here and be prepared to be hassled.

Supplies & Provisions

A boutique can be found on nearly every block, you will find the boutiques stocked with snacks, sodas, and other beverages but for those looking to do some cooking themselves check out Exotica and D.S.K. Mini Prix both located on the Island on the Rue Khalifa Ababacar Sy both of which offer a larger selection of Western foods.

Gasoline

Fuel can be purchased at any one of the gas stations on the mainland. You will find gas stations along the Rue de la Corniche as you come into Saint-Louis from the south. There is also an Oil Libya off the Route N2 as you head north out of town and there are many stations along the Avenue General de Gaulle as well.

Daily Market

The market runs daily up the Avenue General de Gaulle and offers vegetables, fruit, clothing, fabric, you can pretty much find anything you need here, including used clothing that comes from America and Europe, keep your eyes open for a chance to find some cast off t-shirts that are always good for a laugh. Wander down any of the side streets from the main market and you will find additional fabric stores, clothing stores, tailors and boutiques. Check out the smaller, less hectic market on Guet N’Dar just as you cross over the bridge, a walk down the side streets from the market reveals boutiques stuffed to the brim with different fabrics and tailors hard at work.

Eat and Drink

Given that Saint-Louis is a hot destination for French speaking tourists as well as a home to many foreign born residents, the offerings are plentiful on the island for food and drink. You can stop at any one of the unassuming Tangana shacks for Senegalese food or a simple sandwich which can be found in great numbers on both the Mainland or the Island or check out some of the restaurants and bars listed below for something a little different. Also don't be afraid to stop at one of the many sandwich stands set up on the street or any of the other street foods. You can also drink a cup of Nescafe or Cafe Touba for under 100CFA at many places along the street. In general you will find that it is cheaper to have a drink on the main land as opposed to the Island.

Eat

On the Main Land

On the Island

Drink

On the Island

Sleep

On the Island

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Langue De Barbarie Peninsula

Budget

Budget

South of Saint Louis

Budget

About 20 kilometers outside of town is the fabulous "campement" Zebrabar. It's located in the Langue de Barberie National Park, right along the water, so it's a beautiful spot to relax and head out for a tour of the park. Delicious european meals are served family style, but can be expensive (5000 CFA for a complete dinner). It is also possible to rent kayaks as well, they are free for guests of the campement and are also available for a small fee for visitors to the Park.

Cope

Religious Services

There are two catholic churches in Saint-Louis, one located on the island and another located on Sor.

Hospital

Consulat

Go next

Parc National de la Langue de Barbarie

Located just 11 miles south of Saint Louis in the region of Gandiol, the Park is home to over 160 different species of bird as well as other animals and is a great place for nature lovers, sightseers, photographers and bird watchers to visit. The park offers tours by boat, or explore on bike or by foot. There is a monthly bird count that visitors to the park can participate in that happens towards the end of each month, contact the park for details.

Parc National des Oiseaux du Djoudj

Located in the Senegal River Delta, this bird sanctuary is home to some 1.5 million birds covering 16,000 hectares and here you will find a wide variety of bird species. It is easy for bird lovers to take a day trip to the park and visit the third largest bird sanctuary in the world. The park is most easily accessible with an organized tour group which can be arranged through one of the agencies listed under the activities section. It was dedicated as a UNESCO world heritage site in 1981.

Réserve Spéciale de Faune de Guembeul

This natural reserve is home to many bird species, mammals and reptiles as well as to the African Spurred Tortoise and is about 10km south of Saint-Louis.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Tuesday, September 15, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.