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Tunisia

Sidi Bou Saïd, the village of delights

arcade in Sidi Bou Saïd

This lovely blue and white village overlooking the gulf of Tunis provides with the perfect surrounding to sip a mint tea or a tea with pine kernel.

"Sidi Bou" is nearly as famous as its neighbour Carthage. At the very heart of the village, the "Café des Nattes" welcomed Gide, Montherlant, Bernanos, Paul Klee, and Simone de Beauvoir.

Café Sidi Chabaane

From one of the numerous terraces of the Café Sidi Chabaane, the view over the Gulf of Tunis is outstanding.

In the summer, it is very difficult to find a seat after 5 pm. But if you manage to get one, don't miss the delightful tea with fresh almonds.

Terraces and minaret

But there is one delight that outdoes tea in Sidi Bou Said: strolling around.

Very early in the morning or at sunset, light contrats make it a magic place. Guided by beams of light, walk aimlessly in this village that reminds us of Andalucia or the Cyclades.

Climbing upwards from the TGM station (35 minutes from Tunis), stop at the fountain Ain Tassat to quench your thirst. The main sreet slopes up gently.

 

Take notice of the "moucharabieh", balconies with wooden railings through which women can peer without being seen. Souvenir shops are everywhere, as well as typical birdcages.

If you have some time left, visit the museum of Mediterranean and Arabic music or the Dar el Annabi. The latter is a very well-preserved house-museum held by an old Tunisian family.

Tunisian door

There are many opportunities to get lost at every corner of this labyrinth of narrow white streets: especially to admire the beautiful blue doors or gardens of Sidi Bou Said.

There are few hotels, but the Dar Saïd is very comfortable, with its ceramics, its garden and its swimming pool with a view on the sea.

From there you are only a few steps away from the mosque and the shrine of Sidi Bou, the Moroccan hermit who came on this hill in 1207.

Inhabitants come here to give donations and homeless people are sheltered.

To end your stroll, climb the hill where the ancient Carthaginian lighthouse was located or go down to the beach next to the most select marina of Tunisia.

Fabio Benedetti-Valentini © Azurever.com

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