3 June 2019

Saint Louis, Senegal - UNESCO World Heritage Site

Saint-Louis, Senegal

Strolling around Saint Louis with no fixed plans.


We travelled to Saint Louis from Kèbèmer by local bus

From the gares (bus Station) of Saint Louis we took a taxi (1000 cfa, fixed price) to reach our hotel (HotelLa Residence) which was located in the colonial part of the city. We crossed the famous Faidherbe Bridge and we reached the narrow Island quickly and easily, just 5 or 6 minutes of driving. From my experience, Saint Louis is the dirtiest city I have ever seen!!! From the taxi, I could see garbage everywhere, even though the characteristic colonial architecture gave Saint-Louis its distinctive appearance and identity.


Faidherbe Bridge Saint Louis, Senegal
Senegalese taxis on Faidherbe Bridge in Saint Louis
Geographically speaking, Saint-Louis, or Ndar as it is called in Wolof, is a city located 320 km north from the capital Dakar; it is formed by three areas: the internal mainland, the narrow island and the external mainland (Langue De Barbarie). All of these areas are urbanized (if it can be said so) but only the narrow Island has become significantly touristy because it represents the heart of the old colonial city. Most of the hotels and restaurants are here.

Saint Louis, Senegal Map
Senegal Map By Google

Saint Louis, in fact, was the capital of the French colony in Senegal from 1673 until 1902 and French West Africa from 1895 until 1902, when the capital was moved to Dakar. From 1920 to 1957, it also served as the capital of the neighbouring French colony of Mauritania. 


What to do in Saint Louis, Senegal
The man Of Saint Louis: We found him everywhere in the Narrow Island

Once at the reception, we saw the same Senegalese guide that we met in our hotel in Lompoul the day before. He said his French costumers were staying in our same hotel so he was also sleeping in a room there.


Things to do in Saint Louis, Senegal
Muslims meeting point in the Narrow Island

After having a shower, we went out to find a good place to eat. We had identified a restaurant on TripAdvisor that didn’t exist anymore so while trying to find another one we again met up with the same guide who seemed to want to join us for dinner. The three of us walked about 30 minutes with our torch to reach another restaurant recommended on TripAdvisor but that one was also closed. So we finally decided to return back to our hotel for dinner. 

Saint Louis, Senegal - UNESCO World Heritage Site
Garbage everywhere



The guide kept on talking and I was no longer able to follow him. I was really very tired and hungry and I didn't want the guide to stay with us anymore. I was just hoping for some good food and a glass of wine before sleeping. As I hoped, the food at our hotel was very tasty and the wine was not too bad which I was pretty pleased about. I could sleep peacefully. 


Saint Louis, Senegal - UNESCO World Heritage Site
External main land: Langue de Barbarie Beach side

The next day we wandered Saint Louis with no fixed plans. We had our lunch at the Senegalese restaurant called Fleuve Plus, it was just in front of our hotel. (rice with shrimp sauce/rice with fish skewer). That was not actually my kind of restaurant. I am pretty picky, while Alessandro adapts more easily. 

Fishermen Site Saint Louis, Senegal
External mainland: Langue de Barbarie Village side

We did not do any special excursions offered by various travel agencies organized by the Europeans who live in Saint Louis. So what we did was walking around the city visiting schools, churches, mosques, some workshops, tailor's shops (Saint Louis is specialized in tailorings and you need a day to visit the tailor's area), souvenirs shops, etc. That was the best thing we could ever do. 

School in Saint Louis, Senegal
School in the Narrow Island

The third part of the city, which lies on the external mainland deserves a visit. In fact from the narrow island when we suddenly reached this area, we were surprised to see how life over there was completely different. This area was occupied by the fishing communities. Plenty of people, an exponential number of children and animals on the road, domesticated pelicans, boys playing football on the beach and other doing nothing on the streets caught our eyes. They are in so many living in the same house that they have to shift their hours at home, they even have a sleeping schedule since the people who occupied the same house ware numerous.


Saint Louis, Senegal - UNESCO World Heritage Site
External mainland: Langue de Barbarie house entrance with domesticated pelican
There was more poverty here than in the narrow Island and there were no tourists at all. People asked us to buy some milk, rice or any other food items. We bought some but obviously, you can’t buy for everyone. We took many, many photos with the people which we developed and gave them the day after.

Such an impressive setting you can't miss. Moreover, if you like photography, this is the right place for you, also because unlike all other cities in Senegal, here at the external mainland they are so happy that pictures are taken of them. This won't be the same in the future probably so, don't miss the chance. 


Saint Louis, Senegal - UNESCO World Heritage Site
Just a fast click at the Narrow Island

Related: Lompoul Village

We had dinner at La Terrasse Restaurant. They have western food, pizza, and alcoholic beverages. It is slightly expensive compared to the other restaurants in Saint Louis that offer Senegalese food but when you've only eaten rice for days, it's nice to enjoy something familiar. 


This picture really means a lot to me: so much of happiness and spontaneity! Narrow Island

We spent our second night in Saint Louis, in the same hotel and the day after we moved to Bandia by public transport. When it comes to Saint Louis, I have to say that this town gave me something more compared to other cities in Senegal. Being a very touristic spot meant, on the other side, free to go everywhere and this, allowed us to connect more with the people, therefore with the culture.  


Things to do in Saint Louis, Senegal
Saint Louis, Senegal    

Join the conversation!

  1. wow! What a great journey you have.

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  2. Senegal has never been on my radar but maybe I’ll get there someday. It sounds like it’s worth the visit.

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  3. I’ve been looking forward to visiting Senegal because I have friends from there. I like how you didn’t stick to the tourist spots. Spending time with local people provides a very different perspective?

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  4. Man, these images tell such a story. I love the classroom and the beach. Crazy to see a nice beach that is a people's beach and not just another tourist attraction.

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  5. I would like the outer mainland as I love fishing villages. It is so sad to hear the people have to take shifts in their own home.

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  6. You seem to have had a great experience in Saint Louis, discovering all the small little things as you went around the city.

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  7. Great photos, Senegal looks super interesting! It's too bad to hear about all the garbage though

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  8. Sounds like a splendid time! If you ask me, sometimes having no plan and just wandering around is the best plan!

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