Destination Guide: Cotonou
Wide boulevards, colourful markets and peaceful pirogues
Dodge zipping scooter taxis known as zemijdans as you revel in the colour and chaos
of Benin’s most populous city. Escape Cotonou’s throng with a languid pirogue canoe
ride on Nakoue Lagoon.
Food and Drink
Dine under open-air marquis or at French cafés. Local Beninese specialities like
rice with arachide groundnut sauce are served up under the high-pitched thatched
roofs of Cotonou’s marquis. Dine on fine French cuisine at perennial favourite Chez
Clarisse in Camp Guézo or while away the morning munching on fresh baguettes,
croissants and exquisite pastries at a delectable patisserie on Avenue Clozel.
Sightseeing and relaxation
Discover market treasures, intricate mosques and colonial architecture. The
seemingly endless labyrinth of alleys of the open-air Grand Marche de Dantokpa takes
over Cotonou’s heart. Admire the red-and-white-striped Notre Dame des Apotres
cathedral near the Ancient Pont Bridge, then contrast it with subtle blue tones of
the Grand Mosque.
Take home quality crafts and beautiful fabrics. Have fun haggling for batiks and
ethnic Fon jewellery with the so-called ‘Mama Benz’, the sassy female traders of the
Grand Marche de Dantokpa. Or browse through the wood carvings and bronze sculptures
at the Centre de Promotion de l’Artisanal. Upmarket Woodin on Rue des
Hindous sells quality Dutch wax fabric and textiles.
Nightlife and Entertainment
Refreshing beer and live jazz. Join Cotonou’s expats and foreign diplomats as they
chill out with the local La Beninoise beer to the tune of Western pop at Le
Livingston in the leafy suburb of Haie Vive. For a taste of the local
nightlife, pop into Cotonou’s small buvettes bars or tap your feet to jazz along