City Guide: Brazzaville

Brazzaville by Christopher Clark

Out and about in Brazzaville…? Here are some suggestions of where to eat and drink, sleep and experience the arts.

EATING AND DRINKING

For fine dining and the best river views within stumbling distance of the city centre, Mami Wata has become an obligatory weekend stop for wealthy locals and expats alike. La Corniche. Tel: +242 053 42879.

La Bodega offers a strange and intriguing mix of Peruvian and Congolese cuisine and often has live music. It’s popular among expats and younger locals. 40 rue de Dr Cureau. Tel: +242 06657 5899.

In the heart of the historic and vibrant Bacongo district, Chez Kudia is an unassuming little venue with cheap beer, good local food, live music on weekends and a young, artsy crowd. Mairie de Bacongo.

About a half an hour’s drive out of the city, the picturesque Les Rapides is a must-see, right on the edge of the mighty Congo River, with plenty of outdoor seating in the leafy garden area and a very mixed crowd. Route de Djoué.

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ACCOMMODATION:

Hotel Hippocampe is among the best budget options in Brazzaville. It’s centrally located with simple, but clean rooms, wifi and a good Asian-themed restaurant surrounded by greenery. Tel: +242 06668 6068.

Hotel Africa in the bustling Poto Poto district, near one of the city’s biggest markets, is a good mid-range option with attentive staff, tasteful decor and good prices. Tel: +242 22260 0103.

Mikhael’s Hotel is the cream of the crop in downtown Brazzaville and a favourite among business travellers. It’s big and busy, with good facilities and an excellent restaurant and bar that also has live music some nights. Tel: +242 05 366 66 60.

ARTS AND CULTURE

The Generation Elili photography collective put on a number of exhibitions and screenings, both around town and at their base in Bacongo. 109 Bis Ave des Trois Francs. Tel: +242 05585 6700.

The big and busy Institut Français du Congo hosts a wide array of live events (from music to academic lectures), workshops and exhibitions throughout the year and is also a popular meeting place for local artists.

The Ateliers Sahm and the historic École de Peinture de Poto Poto (Ave de la Paix, tel: +242 556 7961) both showcase impressive, colourful displays and exhibitions of paintings and other works by talented Congolese and international artists.

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GETTING AROUND

SAA flies to Brazzaville twice a week.

Private taxis in Brazzaville are remarkably cheap. There’s an unofficial set fee of CFAF1 000 (roughly $1,70) to almost anywhere within the city limits. However, exploring on foot is an easy, safe and pleasant way to appreciate the interesting architecture.

Maya Maya Airport has a number of 45-minute daily flights to and from the coastal city of Pointe Noire, Congo’s economic capital. One-way tickets cost around $70. From Pointe Noire, you have access to excellent beaches a little further up the coast, as well as to the country’s best national parks a little further inland.

[See the full version of this article which appeared in the August 2015 edition of Sawubona magazine, download here for free.]

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