The Margouilla's Advice on Nightstopping in Brazzaville

BRAZZAVILLE – MAYA MAYA (FCBB/BZV)

 

What airfield can I expect?

Brazzaville Maya Maya airport has suffered greatly from the civil war which tore Congo apart in the 1990’s. But finally since 2008, the entire airport is being rebuilt. In 2010, a new runway will replace the present one which has become really rough over the years. A grand new terminal, complete with jetways, is being built by the Chinese. Check your NOTAMs for work in progress - but don’t be surprised by unannounced taxiways or aprons closures… In Brazzaville, the bulk of movements are to or from economic capital Pointe Noire, so expect most aircraft to land runway 05 and takeoff 23, which makes traffic management slightly hectic at times…

The airport is open H24. Jet A-1 is available at all times from fuel hydrants located all over the tarmac (not all of them work, though). No avgas. No tiedowns. Airport security is ensured by the highly unreliable Congolese military.

Flight plan filing is straightforward, at the airport office located next east of the new terminal. You will have to pay Asecna fees (for airport & overflight) and ANAC fees (for airport & outbound passengers). Handling is not mandatory (and frankly, not necessary).

The taxis are painted dark green. Hiring one to town will usually cost you about 1,500 to 2,500 XAF depending on how far you go and how well you bargain.

 

Where am I?

With a population of 1.4 million, the capital of Congo lies on the northern shore of the Stanley Pool, a natural widening of the Congo River. Across the pool is huge Kinshasa, the capital of DR Congo, which makes the two cities the closest capitals in the world. The region had been center for commercial activity centuries before the city of Brazzaville was founded by the French in 1880. It was named after famous explorer Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza who signed the first treaties with the local kings.

In the 19th century, Brazzaville became the capital of French Equatorial Africa (AEF), and even briefly the capital of Free France during WWII. These central administrative roles led Brazzaville to receive historical monuments long before independence occurred in 1960, and unlike other African capitals it was able to preserve them. Thus, the city has a real soul to it, and walking through its streets feels like turning the pages of Congolese history.

The Congolese civil war in the 1990’s was a real blow to Brazzaville, with fights between factions taking place inside the capital itself. Lots of building were ransacked or burnt, and the city still bears the scars of that period. Fortunately, since the mid-2000’s, reconstruction has started and many projects are underway as we speak (2009).

Airport Police Station: +(242) 282 11 02

Hospital (CHU): +(242) 282 61 45

Pharmacies (Mavre): +(242) 281 18 39; (Destin) : +(242) 282 58 37

Banks: BGFI, Attijariwafa and others ATMs?

 

Where do I sleep?

Olympic Palace (15mn from the airport)

            PO Box 1050 – Brazzaville, avenue de l’Amitié 

            Tel: +(242) 281 34 36

 

            Fax: +(242) 283 53 21

Email: reception@hotel-olympic-palace.com

Currently the best place to stay in Brazzaville, with 46 rooms and suites. All are up to international four-star standard, with air-conditioning, satellite TV, free wifi and minibar. Restaurant, tennis court and swimming pool in the compound. Airport shuttle service. 100,000 to 180,000 XAF per night. (2009)

Hotel Laico Maya-Maya (15mn from the airport)

            PO Box 588Brazzaville, city center

            Tel: +(242) 640 00 00

            Fax: +(242) 281 03 02

Email: brazzaville@laicohotels.com

 

This former Méridien hotel was pillaged repeatedly during the war, and was never completely repaired. Taken over by the Libyan tourism group Laico it has received a full refurbishment and reopened in 2009. This 158-room palace located in a calm hilltop park offers two restaurants, a business center and a swimming pool. Expect about 110,000 for standard rooms. (2009)

 

Hotel Residence Marina (15mn from the airport)

            PO Box 1947Brazzaville, city center

            Tel: +(242) 81 16 05 or 81 18 03

            Fax: +(242) 81 17 08 or 81 16 43

 

This large hotel of 120 rooms is nice and comfortable, albeit not decorated with much taste. Rooms all have air-co and satellite TV. The hotel offers a large restaurant, two bars, two swimming pools, a conference room and a fitness club. Internet cafe. Rooms from 90,000 to 200,000 XAF per night. (2008)

Hotel Leon (15mn from the airport)

            Avenue de l’Amitié

            Tel: +(242) 281 23 11

 

A small hotel run by locals, offering comfortable air-conditioned rooms nicely furnished with satellite TV. A swimming pool is under construction. Expect around 60,000 XAF a night. (2009)

 

Where do I eat?

Le Jardin des Saveurs (15mn from the airport)

            PO Box 264 – Brazzaville, avenue de l’Amitié

            Tel: +(242) 281 17 74 or 536 51 04

 

Excellent restaurant with a gastronomic menu offering fine African and European cuisine. Air-conditioned dining room and peaceful garden-side terrace. About 20,000 XAF. (2009)

Le Mami Wata (20mn from the airport)

            Cercle Nautique, next to the former Mbamou Palace

            Tel: +(242) 534 28 79

Enjoy the fine cuisine of this riverside restaurant on the outdoor terrace offering afantastic view on the Stanley Pool and Kinshasa. Expect to pay around 12,000 XAF per head. (2009)

Le Nénuphar (20mn from the airport)

            PO Box 326 – Brazzaville, city center across Brazza Viande

            Tel: +(242) 281 09 15

Simple European cuisine centered around a good meat menu. Congolese and Ivorian dishes as well. Nicely ventilated terrace. About 15,000 XAF a head. (2005)

Chez Noura (20mn from the airport)

            Avenue Foch

            Tel: +(242) 281 55 77 or 558 85 88

Long time tearoom and pastry shop run by a Lebanese family. You can enjoy a range of snacks and cakes on the city center terrace. (2008)

La Mandarine (20mn from the airport)

            Avenue Foch

            Tel: +(242) 281 13 40

Across the street from the above Chez Noura, la Mandarine is its Chinese sibling. The street-side terrace on avenue Foch has a nice colonial feel to it. (2008)


What can I visit?

Having a walk on the riverside road is a must, to admire the majestic Stanley Pool and, on the other side, huge Kinshasa.

Then, wandering though town, there are some nice monuments to look at: some of them, of colonial architecture, date back from the 19th century, i.e. very old by Central African standards. These include the Cathedral of Brazzaville and the Bishop's Palace, the Presidential Palace, and several old colonial residences, some of which having become administrative of diplomatic buildings, some of others being abandoned.

Brazza also features good examples of ‘art deco’ architecture (central post office) and even a Congolese variant of Le Corbusier’s ‘Cité Radieuse’ in the Immeuble Air France (unfortunately pillaged).

Those who want to find a real African market can have a walk through the one in Poto-Poto, which is rather safe if taking the usual precautions (dress simply, no jewellery, etc).

Quick escapes from Brazza include a trip to the falls just downstream of the Stanley Pool, where one can overlook the rapids while having a drink on a small terrace (15mn taxi ride).

 

Where can I go out?

Le Ramdam

            Just outside of Hotel Laico (former Méridien)

The most famous night-club in Brazza, good African & European music, international crowd.

Le Bataclan 

            Quartier Moungali

            Famous outdoor club set on top of a 4-story building. Great Congolese music & atmosphere. Open every night.

Le Feignon 

            Quartier Moungali

            This one is open H24. Fun little African club if you fancy partying in the middle of the day!

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