Antananarivo, known as Tananarivo by Europeans, is the capital of Madagascar, situated in the centre of the Great Island, in the heart of the Highlands.
All international flights travel to Antananarivo and all domestic flights pass through the capital, so surely you can spend a few days here during your trip. Different from the surrounding areas, Antananarivo is surprising. Divided between the old city (high) and the modern city, it leaves the traveler wanting more. The atmosphere is special, from the town centre to its mountains, its sellers of postcards, lychees or bananas, to its villagers of the heights, as well as its craft market, bars and restaurants.
It is true that Antananarivo can make you feel uncomfortable. There are many people dressed poorly and without shoes begging on the streets. Children are often alone, the oldest of them looking after the younger children. The best thing to do is to give them cakes, shampoo, shower gel or T-shirts, even if they sell them on, looking for more money.
Apart from seeing the Queen's Palace, the Palace of the Prime Minister, located in the old city and the King's Palace a little further, you can walk in the city, watching the world pass by. In the old city, the walks are pleasant and from the queen's palace, the view is magnificent, towering over the whole of Antananarivo.
For going out, a few bar-restaurants are very nice. The local people go to them regularly including the South, the Kudeta (the bar-restaurant of the Lapasoa Residence), the Boussole and the Mojo.
Near Antananarivo, you can also discover the museum with scale models of ships, the most famous in the world. Or the lemurs reserve, a couple of miles away.
Do not buy in hotels and choose to go to crafts markets to do your souvenir shopping, without forgetting to negotiate prices, while being reasonable at the same time. There are several markets in the city.
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Go to the Isotry market, which is popular, peaceful and good for buying baskets, clothing, mats and spices. See the crafts market in Andravoahangy, situated on the blue hill road, offering a wide variety of stones, solitary, wood carvings, inlays, embroidery, baskets and visit the Digue craft market, open on Sundays, on the road that leads to the Ivato airport, offering ebony masks, rosewood statues and valihas (Malagasy stringed instrument) amongst other things.
The ship models manufactured in Madagascar are famous throughout the world. The address not to be missed is the Village, open from Monday to Saturday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, lot 36 F, in Ambihibao on the road to the Ivato airport.
Telephone: 22 451 97
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Nearly 100 different examples are on offer, and you can passionately discover all stages of their manufacturing.
You will often be stopped to buy postcards or lychees or simply to donate money. Think of bringing some pencils, shampoo or other products, even though often, in Antananarivo everything is sold on for money!
Do not walk the streets of Antananarivo late in the evening; it is not always well frequented. The cyclone period (late December-early April) is to be avoided.
We advise you to enjoy the foie gras of the hotel Sakamanga or lunch at the very pleasant Restaurant Bar Lounge. The Kudéta (16, rue de la Reunion. Tel: 22 281 54) has soft ambiance, refined decoration and a friendly welcome. The South is a restaurant grill (22 310 22). Do not miss The Boussole, Brewery Art Café set up around a patio and is particularly pleasant (21, rue du Docteur Villette. Tel.: 22 358 10). In the evening, you can go have a drink at Mojo, a bar with concerts which is also a very enjoyable place.
You will find plenty of things on the markets, but we advise you to bring back valihas (stringed instruments) if you love music, masks (some are magnificent), bracelets and spoons made of finely sculpted zebu horns.
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