Quiet city, rather clean, smooth people
Too quiet if that matters
An escape from the world
Markets exert a magnetic attraction for me, and so it was inevitable that we would end up wandering around the one in Andasibe ...The range and quality of produce in Madagascar is an endless source of fascination for me. Most of what is on sale is recognisable for a tourist from the developed world, but was usually located in the section for...more
If ever there were a boulevard designed for elegant evening strolling, Avenue de l'Independence is it! Tree-lined, designed with panoramic proportions and stretching between the delectable railway station and Hotel des Thermes, it takes little imagination to conjur up the ghosts of long-dead expats retreating to the cool highlands to 'take the...more
Madagascar is justifiably famous for its semi-precious stones, and we were taken by our tour guide to an excellent shop in Antsirabe that sold beautiful semi-precious stones and fossils.The store owners (who were of Asian descent) made a great fuss of us and insisted on presenting us with small gifts on our arrival. I find this practice very...more
Taking a rickshaw ride is clearly a big thing for tourists in Antsirabe, and so our tour guide took it upon himself to organise one for us without prior consultation. As we had just started our trip and didn't want to offend him, we somewhat unenthusiastically went along with the scheme.This was my second rickshaw ride (the first was in Melaka),...more
The centre of Antsirabe is a wonderful place for strolling - it's impossible to use the word 'walk' in a place so laid back, and indeed, perhaps 'ambling' is closer to the mark!I am no architectural fundi, but when I am travelling, I do like looking at buildings and imagining why people would choose to build in a particular style. Avenue de...more
If you have a thing for architecture, like I do, a stroll in Antsirabe would tell you about how diverse Antsirabe architecture can be... Well, it says a lot about who has influenced the city as well. Here and there, you will find many buildings, houses whose styles are European inspired ones. Mostly located in the European district. French cottage-...more
Quite good food, a lot of travel information, free wifi, also some rooms (from € 6. didn´t see them, but people seemed to be happy about them) and tours. Owned by a French Malagasy family.http://www.chez-billy.comule.com/ Crevettes dans la sauce Pastis, Entrecôte aux poivre vertmore
[Update May 2010: cannot guarantee the accuracy of my below comments anymore. Mangement has changed, strategy as well, seems things have worsened. Most important, Chef James has left the house. Fooding experience wouldn't be the same anymore. Have an idea: what about your recent Arotel experience to share with us ? Cheers!]Croc'Inn snack-bar is...more
[Update May 2010: cannot guarantee the accuracy of my below comments anymore. Mangement has changed, strategy as well, seems things have worsened. Most important, Chef James has left the house. Fooding experience wouldn't be the same anymore. Have an idea: what about your recent Arotel experience to share with us ? Cheers!]Antsirabe is a place for...more
This is an old Maroccan palace. Now it is a hotel with a great restaurant, swimmingpool and several tennis courts. The duck, marget de canard, was excellent, so was the zebu steak with sauce poivre vert. About 13 000 ariary per person. The meny is in French- and the staff speaks only a little English.more
Strolling in Ansirabe streets, I had a big surprise spotting this superb house. I loved its setting & well, the view from where I snapped it did, see for yourself, it justice.Afterwards, I cold ask my aunt and my cousin who are Antsirabeans whom this house belonged to. How surprised I was hearing this was a restaurant. If my memory serves me well,...more
On our way to Antsirabe, we stopped over Ambatolampy (about halfway between Tana & Antsirabe). We decided to have our lunch at Le relais du pêcheur. For Le relais being nearly the only decent place to eat in Ambatolampy, one could think the food would just be so-so. In fact, it is not bad at all. Ambience... it is a restoroute. What can I say about...more
Now, Bira is not the ideal city for crazy clubbing nightlife. Only a handful of clubs (2 or 3). Anyway, even in Tana, I'm not into clubbing at all.
In Antsirabe, you could spend some time in a bar, chatting with friends, over drinks. Bière pression, that is excellent. Cocktails, too... and friends, that's all you need.
Else, you could go into more serious thing: indulging in fine cuisine. Just head to les Agapes (same building)... Another story (check Restaurant tips)
By now, it should be blindingly obvious to anyone reading my travel pages that I have a thing for trains! So, it is with great frustration that I report the existence of a functioning passenger train service in Madagascar that I didn't get the chance to road (or should that be 'rail') test!In the excellent tourist office in the newly renovated...more
For the city being small, the main transportation for seeing around is by pousse-pousse (or bicycle).Although I'll recommend to walk through the city, I'll recommend also the charm of this transportation means as in Antsirabe, they are most beautiful with their colours, and cleanest.Plus, this city is so safe & nice to browse around. Whilst you...more
They are my favourite transportation means to go to a city to another since they allow you to see landscapes. Besides, travelling by taxi-brousse with other passengers is a good way to know about Malagasy people since this transortation means is used by Malagasy of all kinds.Book seats within taxi-brousse companies or associations in Tana. Be...more
Off Antsenakely market, I've found a cute stall selling natural soaps. The label on the table said "Savon naturel aux plantes de Madagascar". Being the type who would spend hours in a bathroom on her lazy days, the stall was sure a me-magnet. I had a feeling I was standing in front of those Provence markets stalls. Awaiting to seeing stalls with...more
I remember having bought garnet and emerald pieces in a gem trade house but I could not remember the name. Along with that, they also sold semi-precious stones such as amazonite, spectronite, agatha, pink quartz... and sculpted semi-precious stones (eggs, grapes, ashtray,...)A friend of mine also bought, in another place, a "raw" aquamarina (still...more
Antsirabe is well known for the nice hand embroidered tablecloths and shirts sold throughout the city. Many locals are engaged in this enterprise and will constantly try to sell you something. The tablecloths come with napkins and are pretty nice. Vendors will be happy to open them up to show you, and will often open them for show when they see...more
It stroke me as it doesn't apply anywhere else in the island: a wool blanket as a shawl.In winter, you will see men in the streets, wearing a wool or synthetic blanket as it's freezing hard (see another tip for what to wear when staying in the highlands, esp. Antsirabe). Such clothing is useful to counter the cold winter, especially for peasants...more
Antsirabe men use to wear lamba (a piece of fabrics that wraps both head, shoulder and whole body: cotton fabrics for casual wear and for special occasions, natural silk for Merina and Betsileo women ). So do Betsileo men (In Fianar region). Both wear a hat as well.See in my pic how they use to wear it.more
Antsirabe is known for the place where gem stones are traded. They come from Ilakaka (South) region. A craze for sapphire stones and the like arose years ago when someone discovered a huge mine in Ilakaka region.
Street vendors sell fake stones. For tourists (and locals) who don't know how to distinguish true from fake, avoid them.
Gem street vendors are seen round hotel places, parkings, train stations... so, beware
Unique Suggestions: If you really do want to buy from street vendors, bargain. Cut half the price and go up.
Fun Alternatives: Go to houses that use to trade. Unfortunately, I am not able to give any name now but Antsirabe has those houses that are trading gem stones (with certificate, if I am not wrong)... Ah yes! I remember of a house, held by a gem-passionate woman...
I was hanging around the ochre mosque that morning. Adjusting lenses to take pictures of the sun shining behind the mosque and the temple - without the flare on my camera screendisplay- when I suddenly heard that noise. The vigorous march of a troop. No, not military! I looked at my right - from where the sound came- to see a sheep troop conducted...more
A widespread contest in Tana and Antsirabe...It used to gather people of all kinds, rich and poor don't know barriers when it comes to cock battles.Interesting to see the craze for it, the atmosphere, the worried cock breeders, those who bet on a particular beast and have to watch the contest...I am not judgemental about cock battle. I use to eat...more
On the front but still partly hidden in the lush greenery around, this painted lady. Reported to be te oldest Antsirabe brick & concrete building ever. That was back to the era of the Queens (18th cent). I was told one of them used to stay there when visiting Antsirabe and indulging the joys of thermal spa in the nearby.more
Along with trekking, those are among sports you can practice in Antsirabe and surroundings: several "earth" sport (as opposed to water sport) indeed.
Arotel has 1 or 2 tennis courts & a (small) swimming pool;
As far as I remember, Les Thermes (spa) has it as well.
Ranovisy (the very place where, as a kid, I would bring a bottle and fill it with mineral water) has a swimming pool as well (in the Malagasy quarter).
For more info, ask your hotel on what to do and where to go.. they know more than I do.
Equipment: Boots for walking, swimwear
For golfing, hiring is possible, as far as I know...
When travelling to Antsirabe, I could always be sure to be treated with delicious food !Why ?The area being considered as the "Vegetable patch & Orchard of Madagascar", restaurants can offer you the freshest ingredients at a lower price. No mystery, the city & its greater region are building their reputation as the richest area & probably safest...more
Probably nothing else could epitomize Antsirabe in my eyes better than this: a Singer sewing machine. My Dad's family comes from Malaza (North of Tana). Still, my grand-parents settled in Antsirabe to earn their living there. My Grand-Dad was a civil servant whilst my Grand-Mother used her hands to knit, do crochet, sew and used to sell her...more
The many European-styled & charming buildings (hotels & private houses alike) that look like summer houses. True that some of them belong to Tananarivians who use to rent them to expats (foreigners & Malagasy who work in the industry of the region). However, some are left as summer/ holiday houses of their owners but in hard times like these,...more