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The capital and largest city in Togo (the two don’t always go together in Africa) Lomé is a bustling place and a major port – busy with cargo vessels carrying off cocoa, palm kernels and coffee – Togo’s principal exports. Its elegant beach boulevard runs all the way east to Benin and west to Ghana (albeit with varying degrees of elegance) and is lined with posh (ish) hotels and outdoor bars under clusters of coconut palms. Just behind these are Lomé’s markets – probably the city’s biggest attraction.
The largest and most thrilling of these is the appropriately named Grand Marché. On the first floor you’ll see the flamboyant Mama Benz – matrons of the local rag trade who have grown wealthy through selling cloth and reside in the top tier of market hierarchy. Equally as famous, is the fascinating Marché des Féticheurs (Fetish Market) - the place to pick up voodoo implements, natural ‘tonics’, serpents heads and a wide variety of the stuff nightmares are made of.Read more
Lomé has good selection of museums. The most outstanding is the Musée International du Golfe de Guinée. Started by a Swiss ethnologist, it contains hundreds of West African artefacts; carvings, statues and some wonderful gold jewellery from Ghana’s Ashanti region. Togo’s Musée National has more in the same vein, whilst the private Arte Viva Gallery is the place to see contemporary West African art – a genre that is growing in diversity, quality and (logically) price. If you want to see Togo’s craftsmen in action, head to the Village Artisanal, a hive of artisan activity where all products are for sale.
Swimming in Lomé is best done at the cleaner eastern beaches, though beware of strong tides.