Grand-Bassam

Travel Guide Ivory Coast Grand-Bassam

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Introduction

Grand-Bassam is a town in southeastern Ivory Coast, lying east of Abidjan. It was the French colonial capital city from 1893 to 1896, when the administration was transferred to Bingerville after a bout of yellow fever. The town remained a key seaport until the growth of Abidjan from the 1930s.

Grand-Bassam is a sub-prefecture of and the seat of Grand-Bassam Department; it is also a commune. The town has the aura of a ghost town, since large sections have been abandoned for decades. In 1896, the French capital was moved to Bingerville, and commercial shipping gradually declined until it virtually ceased in the 1930s. In 1960, with independence, all remaining administrative offices were transferred to Abidjan, and for many years Grand-Bassam was inhabited only by squatters. Beginning in the late 1970s, the town began to revive as a tourist destination and craft centre.

The town is divided by the Ébrié Lagoon into two halves: Ancien Bassam is the former French settlement, facing the Gulf of Guinea. It is home to the grander colonial buildings, some of which have been restored. The district is also home to a cathedral and the Ivory Coast National Museum of Costume. Nouveau Bassam, linked to Ancien Bassam by a bridge, lies on the inland, northern side of the lagoon. It grew from the African servants' quarter and is now the main commercial centre of the town.

In March 2016, the town was targeted in a terrorist attack which killed at least 16 people

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Sights and Activities

The town is the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Grand-Bassam. The diocese's cathedral is the Cathédrale Sacré Cœur in Grand-Bassam.
In 2012, it was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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Getting There

Grand-Bassam is 45 kilometres east of Abidjan and the trip will take about 45 minutes by road. Bush taxis from the Gare de Bassam in Abidjan are the best option, and will cost about CFA 500. Buses are an alternative, which leave from Gare Routière d'Adjamé in Abidjan for CFA 500. Grand-Bassam's 1 gare routière (bus station) is in the centre of town, just beside the Place de Paix roundabout.

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Getting Around

The town is largely divided into two distinct halves. On the south side of the Ébrié Lagoon is Ancien Bassam, the old French town where most of the colonial buildings and attractions are located. Nouveau Bassam lies to the north of the lagoon, and grew out of the old servant quarters to become the main business centre. The two are connected by a small bridge.

The main area of town is quite compact, so walking is an easy way of getting around. If you feel like venturing further, you will need to organise a bush taxi.

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Eat

There are some options to eat in and around the central market as described above, as well as the eateries within the hotels. A more interesting alternative is the "marquis" restaurants along the northern, lagoon edge of Ancien Bassam, which serve local and traditional African cuisine. The cost is low, hovering between CFA 1,900 and 2,300.

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Drink

Most hotels and even some restaurants have their own bars that are popular with locals on the weekdays and holidaymakers from Abidjan on the weekend. There are a couple of nightclubs in the north of the town.

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Keep Connected

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The country calling code to Cote d'Ivoire is 225.
To make an international call from Cote d'Ivoire, the code is 00.

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This is version 2. Last edited at 9:31 on Apr 6, 17 by Utrecht. 1 article links to this page.

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