After the deserts of Mauritania, arriving in Saint-Louis, Senegal was a nice change. There really are few things better than a beach town, and one of those things is a beach town with a little bit of history and culture. The city of Saint-Louis is rich in colonial history. In town, the buildings, although somewhat dilapidated, carry with them stories of the past. Bright colours and intricate design form the character of the buildings. The streets are narrow and the entire historic city is walk-able in around an hour. As an added bonus, just south of town on the strip of sand there are a number of beautiful beach retreats.
Time Needed: 2-3 Days
Backpacker’s Budget: $40-50USD
Things to do in Saint-Louis
While you might easily be tempted to just hang out on the beach the entire time you’re in Saint-Louis, there are actually plenty of things to do both in and out of town.
- Old City Sights: In the old town, the sights worth checking out are the Cathedral, the Governor’s Palace, the grand mosque, and the beautiful Pont Faidherbe (the bridge)
- Mansions: Many of the old colonial mansions in town have been turned into hotels or museums. The ones I checked out were La Maison Rose and Sunu Keur, both of which were beautiful, but a little dull.
- Museums: The best museum in town in my opinion is the Musee de CRDS, you’ll especially like it if you’re into photography. Ateliers Tesss was good for artisan work.
- Music: If you’re around in May, be sure to check out the amazing Jazz Festival in Saint-Louis. Otherwise, there is always good music at the bars in town on weekends.
- Parque National Langue du Barberie: It’s probably best to go down to Zebrabar and spend a couple days there rather than simply doing this on a day trip, but it’s certainly possible. The park is home to some of the best bird life in the world.
Where to Eat in Saint-Louis
As is the case in much of West Africa, you’ll find that most of the best meals are served at hotels. As such, depending on the hotel you’re at you’re likely to eat most of your meals there. I did, however, get a couple meals in town.
- Brasero: The old name for this place was Chez Agnes, it is great and has lunch for about 2000CFA (4USD)
- Carillon du Lac: Great local restaurant, serves up really nice mafe at lunch for about 2000CFA as well.
Where to Stay in Saint-Louis
- Hotel Mermoz: If you want to stay on the beach this is the place to do so. It’s got a nice pool, good restaurant, and very friendly staff. It’ll set you back between $25-40 a night depending on your choice of room.
- Auberge de Jeunesse: This is really the only true backpacker’s option. I didn’t go inside, but the location right downtown Saint-Louis is very good. I’ve heard that it’s a nice place to stay. It’ll likely only set you back $10 for a single room.
- La Louisiane: Probably the best option downtown. It has a great location right on the water and possibly the best restaurant in town. Rooms are between $25-30 a night.
Getting out of Town
- To Mauritania: You’ll need to catch a shared taxi to Rosso which will cost about 1500CFA + baggage. From there, you have to cross the chaotic border to get to the Marutianian side. There are constantly cars headed in the direction of Nouakchott from there.
- To Dakar: The best time to go is about 8am, but the truth is that there are cars heading to Dakar ever 30minutes or so almost all day. You won’t need to worry too much