This former French colony has a wide variety of souvenirs to suit all budgets. There are local markets (marché) and smart shopping malls- Les Deux Plateaux – which is situated on the outskirts of Abidjan. A real treasure trove for good souvenirs is CAVA – Central Artisanal de la Ville Abidjan. This lovely leafy market has a great selection of local handicrafts for sale and several places to buy a well-earned cool drink and snack! Friendly but firm is the way to secure the item of your choice at a good price– aim for 50% of the asking price to start the bargaining! Being able to speak some French is a definite bonus!
All shops and markets are open all day long until 7.00 pm, but remember that there is a two-hour lunch break during the hottest part of the day.
1. Be tempted by a local wood carving
You will be impressed by the selection of wood carvings that include some beautiful studies of animals. Wood is much loved in the Ivory Coast so it is used to make everything including musical instruments and some fun games.
2. Choose some useful basket ware
There is such a great selection of basket ware from small baskets that are ideal for storing kitchen utensils and cutlery to huge cavernous baskets that are perfect for laundry but impossible to get home on the aircraft!
3. Select a colorful bead necklace
Beautifully colored bead necklaces are widely available and are the perfect way to complete an outfit – why not buy several in this year’s popular colors? Several artisans hand-make their beads and the result is an extra special necklace as you can handpick the beads for your necklace.
4. Enjoy choosing a stylish new outfit
Known as the ‘Paris of West Africa’, Abidjan has some really lovely ‘high end’ shops stocking luxury fashion clothes. The prices are good and the tailoring excellent and you might just find yourself something rather special to wear for your next big social occasion! One of the main stores to check out is ‘Onchek’.
5. Buy some colorful hand-painted textiles
These colorful pieces of art are made in Korhugo but are widely available in Abidjan. There are some really attractive pieces featuring studies of wildlife and nature and they make handsome wall hangings.
6. How about a colorful tablecloth?
Many of the lovely tablecloths available in the city’s markets are made in Korhago, in the north of the province. Available in a range of sizes and colors, they are a lovely ‘easy to pack’ souvenir that will remind you of fun-filled days in Abidjan.
7. Would you like a piece of wax printing?
You will soon notice that lots of local people are wearing very individually styled fabric in a rainbow of colors and designs. The wax printed cloth is very important on the Ivory Coast and is worn for all special occasions – a bride will have at least four pieces to wear for her wedding day. The striking designs are made on wax printed cotton and are beginning to appear in western fashion shows. The different patterns are given different names and these include names inspired by popular characters in TV series! Every month dozens of new patterns appear on the market stalls. There are various qualities available and some cheap imported copies, the ‘big names’ retail for about 20 euros per meter.
8. Or some traditional Kente cloth?
The distinctive striped ‘Kente’ clothes are amongst the best known of the traditional African fabrics. Kente cloth has been made for many years by local weavers using a double heddle loom to create beautiful cloth with geometric patterns including the popular ‘chequerboard’. The weavers use a variety of threads including silk and cotton.
9. Indigo fabric
For centuries, the main dye used in this area has been the natural indigo that comes from the young indigo plants which are pounded to a paste and mixed with potash in a large pit dug in the earth that holds as much as 300 gallons of water. This mixture is left to ferment for several days before white cotton is immersed in the solution several times before being hung out to dry. The resulting indigo cloth is available to buy by the meter or in an array of different garments.
10. Treat yourself to some local art
If you are interested in the area’s art, the place to head for is Galerie d’Arts Plunel. This spacious gallery has some really interesting paintings, sculptures and jewelry, and the good news is that there is a well-stocked on-site shop. Another good hunting ground, if you are looking for something unusual is CAVA where a couple of artisans are painting on glass and their work is eye-catching.
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