Of all the places to be stuck for a week waiting for a scooter to arrive, it was Franceville. To be honest, I have nothing bad, nor really anything good, to say about Franceville. I am pretty apathetic to it, to be honest. That being said, there was a noticeable change in the people once I arrived in Gabon’s second city. The people were much more friendly and welcoming here than anywhere else in Gabon, and that made it much easier to be stuck. With decent internet speeds, some good markets, and a couple good views within reach, Franceville doesn’t suck, but it’s also not really worth going out of your way to see.
Things to Do in Franceville
There’s not a whole lot to do in and around Franceville, but I’m sure you can find something to do. For example, if you have a 4×4 you could head to the Bateke Plateau which is meant to be spectacular. You’ll likely have the whole national park to yourself, aside for some antelope. You’ll find the rough road into it from the highway towards Leconi.
Alternatively, if you just feel like lazying around by a pool. Head up the hill to the Leconi Palace Hotel which has amazing views and a sweet pool. They’ll let you use the pool if you eat their expensive lunch, even if you don’t stay there.
Where to Eat in Franceville
It’s not hard finding decent grub in Franceville. Between the many bakeries around, you’ll always find snack-type food. Finding full on meals is a little bit harder, for whatever reason. Near the main roundabout, there are a couple places that are serving African-type cuisine in maquis. If you want to get a bit fancy, you can also head up to the Leconi Palace Hotel. The food is good there, but it’s over-priced.
Where to Stay in Franceville
I stayed at a place called Bien et Bien 2 after being turned away from the Bien et Bien. Both of the places are essentially just rooms in the back of bars. The rooms, though, are quite nice. You will, however, have to deal with lowed salsa music thumping until about 1 or 2 in the morning. I paid $20 a night for that room. In the lap of decaying African luxury, the Leconi Palace Hotel is extremely expensive and seems to always be completely empty.
Getting out of Town
If you’re headed towards the Congo, you’ll need to first go to Leconi. You’ll find the border patrol people are actually situated before Leconi, be sure to stop there and check out. As soon as you leave the Gabonese territory, the road melts to pure sand. It’s rough going. I’m not sure there’s much, if any, public transportation that goes that way. If you’re leaving Franceville in the other direction, you can get to Lope or Libreville on the train which is the best method. The road from Franceville to Lope and then the highway isn’t terrible, but it isn’t great either.
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