Gammarth

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Tunis is the capital of Tunisia.

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Points of Interest in Gammarth

  • Bardo Museum (Le Musée National du Bardo), Le Bardo-2000 (nearest station Bardo on Metro line 4),  1 513-650, fax: 1 513-842. September 16 to April 30: 9:30-16:30. May 1 to September 15: 9:00-17:00, Tuesday to Sunday. 4DT (at least on Sunday), photos free. Nearest metro station is Le Bardo on line 4. Then walk toward the fenced compound to the north and walk clockwise around it until you find the unmarked gate. Count the stops, as signs are often missing, or ask someone on board if you are unsure. Coming from Place de Barcelone, it is the first stop after you go briefly underground for the second time. Occupying the 13th century palace of the Ottoman-era bey (ruler) and renowned for its extensive collection of Roman mosaics, although the (huge) collection covers Tunisia's entire existence from the prehistoric era until the Ottoman days. Exhibits from Carthage, Mahdia, Sousse, many from the Roman period in addition to presentations of Arabian culture old and new. It can be mercilessly hot and stifling in the museum, so bring water. The only bathrooms are on the ground floor, and have attendants asking for change. The museum is segregated into old and new, so be sure to walk around a fair amount looking for new passages to be sure you haven't missed any major areas. As of July 2012, the majority of the museum is open, although there appear to be a few areas still under construction.
  • Dar Ben Abdallah (Musée du Patrimoine Traditionnel). Tu-Su 9:30AM–4:30PM. A small but interesting folk museum within an 18th-century palace in the medina, covering the everyday life of a rich merchant in the Ottoman era with exhibits including faience, stucco ornament, costumes and furniture.
  • Cathedral of St. Vincent de Paul Built in 1882, this is the largest surviving building from Tunis' colonial era, in the neo-Romanesque style.
  • Zitouna Mosque (Jemaa ez-Zitouna). The largest mosque in Tunisia and an important landmark, this Aghlabite mosque dates back to the 8th century, although the distinctive square minaret is a much later 19th century addition. Modest dress essential, but non-Muslims can only enter a viewing platform on the edge of the courtyard (3 TND), not the mosque itself. It is open every day but Friday, from 8-11am. The mosque is also surrounded on three sides by souks, which are worth exploring. Be aware that the very nice and friendly men selling tickets and sitting nearby might try to show you the medersas (Quranic schools) and panoramic views nearby, even implying that it is part of the mosque and thus your ticket. If you are not careful you will end up with an unexpected tour that will cost you some dinar. Otherwise just brush them off and do not follow them.
  • Bab Bahr (Porte de France). The Gate to the sea, which remains unchanged since its erection in 1848. It can be found on the Avenue de France.
  • Bab Saadoun. Another gate, constructed originally in 1350 with one arch, then rebuilt in 1881 with three arches to facilitate commerce.
  • Musée Paléochrétien (Early Christian Museum), 20 rue 8010 Montplaisir - B.P. 345 - 1002 Tunis Belvédère - Tunisie,  +216 (71) 909 264. 08:30-17:00 (16/09-31/03), 08:00-18:00 (01/04-30/04), 07:30-19:00 (01/05-15/09). Surely includes more dreaded mosaics. 9 DT.
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About Gammarth

Background

Located on the Mediterranean coast but lacking much in the way of beaches, Tunis has been spared the onslaught of package tourism in the resorts to the north and south. With a population of less than 700,000 (the greater metropolitan area holds some 2,412,500 inhabitants), the entire city feels small and compact. There isn't much in the way of must-see attractions, but Carthage is easily accessed from here and the souq is one of the most authentic and hassle-free in North Africa.

Orientation

Tunis is divided into the old city, known as the medina, and the new city, or ville nouvelle in French. Ave Habib Bourguiba is the large avenue running through the new city from the clock tower to the Cathedral of St Vincent de Paul. It then turns into Ave de France, which runs for a few blocks until ending at the Place de la Victoire and the Port de France, a large free-standing gate that used to be the entrance to the medina. This can be a good landmark for taxi drivers, as some of the smaller streets nearby aren't sure to be known by the driver.

The Port de France also serves as a good entry point for exploring the medina. Rue Jemaa Zaytouna leads past lots of shops to the Zaytouna Mosque, the great mosque of Tunis and the center of the medina. Running obliquely to Rue Jemaa Zaytouna, and also with an outlet near the Port de France, is the Rue de la Kasbah. This runs all the way through the medina to the Place du Gouvernment and the Place de la Kasbah, a huge bleak square fringed by razorwire. It is fairly easy to move between the two streets by cutting through in the labrynthine medina, and it is easy to keep your bearings and find an exit. Rue Jemaa Zaytouna seemed to be a better entry point from the Port de France at night, remaining relatively well traveled. Rue de la Kasbah, on the other hand, is active after dark on the Place de la Kasbah side, but is extremely dark and almost scary near the Port de France. It is recommended to get a feel for the medina during the day so that you will feel more confident if you find yourself and alone and need to find a landmark at night.

Activities

  • Take a walking tour of the ancient buildings, mosques, and gates of the medina. All types of commodities including slaves used to be traded here, today's market is mainly that of day to day goods, increasingly produced in mainland China, and a shrinking quantity of local handicrafts.
  • See an opera, ballet, or other production at the Théâtre municipal de Tunis.
  • Wander through Tunis' largest park, Belvedere Park, which houses the Museum of Modern Art and the municipal zoo, and overlooks Lake Tunis.

Food

Most hotels include breakfast, and some include dinner. There are countless coffee shops with delicious drinks and French pastries to enjoy, as well as sandwich shops. Count yourself lucky if you find a dish that does not include canned tuna!

Budget

  • Abid 216 1257052. 98 rue de Yogoslavie. You can get a solid meal such as lamb in macaroni for TD5.
  • Restaurante Les 3 Étoiles, Rue Mustafa M'barek. Very cheap and filling food such as couscous and salads.
  • Atlas le Resto, Rue Mustapha M'barek, directly across from the Grand Hotel de France. Very friendly owner and his cook speak some English. Delicious iftar (breaking of the daily ramadan fast) of fish soup, bread, harissa, a fried pastry with tuna and a softboiled egg, minced cabbage, grilled chicken and fries, a spicy olive paste, and a lime Bogo, all for 9.500 TD.

Mid-range

  • L'Orient 216 71 252 061. 7, Rue Ali Bach Hamba. close to porte de France. The steaks are bland, the fish good and local food such as Berber Lamb is excellent. The service is prompt.
  • La Mamma 216 71340423, e-mail: lamamma@planet.tn.. Av de Carthage, Very cosy restaurant on several floors. Good italian inspired food. Has live music and is open to 3 am.
  • El Khalifa 216 22428470. Rue d'Iran. close to Metro stop Nelson Mandela. Delicious West African food at very reasonable prices, popular with employees of the African Development Bank. Far tastier and friendlier than the typical mediocre Tunisian restaurant experience. Open for lunch only until 3pm, Monday through Saturday.

Splurge

  • Dar el-Jeld, 5-10 rue Dar el-Jeld (near the Prime Minister's residence, and the Youth Hostel),  71 560 916. Perhaps the best of the restaurants in Tunis, this restaurant pays attention to every single detail. You don't even open the door - just knock on the large yellow door, and they open it (this gives it the appearance of not being open). The food is excellent, and the management speaks English and French fluently, and can recommend various dishes. The menu is a bit complicated, with price categories, rather than prices, listed (check the last page for what each price category costs). The physical setting is inside a beautiful, tiled covered courtyard, and has private areas off to the side. As of March '09, prices for a main course ranged from 20-30, appetizer 7-9, and water or tea 3.5. Everything is recommended, though the couscous is simply good, but not incredible. 25-40 TD.

Drinks

Ladies, try to bring a man out with you, and be careful about what bars you frequent, because many are frequented only by men and prostitutes, and can get a bit rowdy. Local beers are Celtia and the elusive Stella, which was never seen but exists on RateBeer. Both are lagers. Two brewpubs at one point existed in Hammamet and Sousse, although it is unknown if they are still there. Local liqueurs include Boukha ("boo-k"), usually taken straight or with coke, and thibina, which is usually taken straight with a single ice cube.

  • Café M'Rabet cafe and restaurant.
  • Le Boeuf sur le Toit, 3 avenue Fatouma Bourguiba. The name means The Beef on the Roof, and trendy people come for food, drinks, live music, DJs, and a dance floor.
  • Bar Jamaica, 49 Avenue Habib Boutguiba. On the 10th floor of the Hotel el-Hana International, this is a funky and popular destination for locals and foreigners, with music and outdoor seating available.
  • Hotel Africa Lobby Bar, Avenue Habib Bourguiba. A bit smoky, but has all of the local drinks save Stella, and is one of the few places that serves alcohol during Ramadan.
  • Le Plug, La Marsa Plage. Great place to get a drink in the house in the sea with amazing view, DJs or live rock music, young crowd with a trendy and alternative touch. No entry after 23:00. Almost no to guys only companies without "reservation". Beer 6TND.
  •    Blanko kitesurf club, Gammarth, by the Carrefour mall / Gammarth Center / Ramada Plaza hotel (pass the shopping mall by the right towards the sea). 10:00 - 02:00. Open April - October on the beach night club / bar / cafe with dance / pop / rock / live (depending on day) music and mixed crowd full on weekends. Tables indoor / outdoor on the beach, mats, dancefloor wherever you like. No entry after midnight. Almost no to Tunisians unaccompanied by female. "Parking fee" 2 TND, but charged 3 TND unofficially, even if you park by the shopping mall.

Shopping

  • ATMs are a convenient way of getting money without going to a bureau de change and there are many VISA cashpoints around the city [2]
  • The souq in the medina makes for a fascinating stroll. Tiny shops overflowing with stuff; people selling, buying, milling about; skeletal cats lurking in the shadows; the smells of essential oils, spices, frying food and rotting garbage; the sounds of the muezzin, raï, football on the radio, Arabic and French... The Tunis medina's main routes are labeled "touristique", but even a few steps off the beaten track it's a real, working market. Behind the often scruffy façades hide old palaces, mosques, Islamic schools. Compared to Morocco or even Sousse you will not be hassled here. Bab El Bahr (The large stone-arch "French Gate" at the head of Avenue DeFrance) is a good starting point for the Souk. The goldsmiths are close to Bab Bnet. Haggle if you wish to buy anything. Prices paid for items are given in July 2012, with the caveat that it is not known if they are good prices. They are provided just for reference. The merchant's first offer is in parentheses: 5DT (12DT) for a low-end scarf, 20DT (45DT, 65DT for a comparable box at another vendor) for an 8" nacre inlaid hexoganal wooden box, 30DT (80DT) for a leather bandolier. If you are unsure, try getting a first estimate from several vendors before you buy. As always, if you give a price and they agree, you will be expected to pay.
  • Halfaouine a cheap, traditional food market, located at Place Halfaouine, near the Habib Thameur metro stop.

There are little stores near every hotel in Tunis, where you can buy everything you need, but it's difficult to call their prices loyal. So it's better to go shopping to other parts of the city. Aproximate 90% of presented in Tunis goods are of local origin. There are networks of state supermarkets Monoprix and General in the capital.

This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Tunis on Wikivoyage.

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