Located on the Grande Côte near the mouth of River Senegal in the northwest, Saint Louis was the capital of colonial Senegal under the French from 1673 to 1902. It also served as capital of French West Africa between 1895 and 1902, and was the capital of colonial Mauritania from 1920 to 1953.
Saint Louis is composed of the mainland (Sor), the island (Île de N’Dar) and the peninsula (Langue de Barbarie). Connecting the island to the mainland is the 507.35 meters long Pont Faidherbe which was inaugurated in 1897; while the peninsula is linked to the island via the Pont Mustapha Malick Gaye.
Being near or surrounded by water, Saint Louis enjoys a pleasant climate, even though it is in the tropics. It has two seasons: rainy, from June to October, and dry which runs from November to May. Evenings through to mid-mornings are often cool, with temperatures averaging 20°C a year. Day time average is about 31°C annually.
The island (Île de N’Dar) is a network of narrow streets and colonial buildings which are easy to explore by foot. However, you can choose the option of a caléche or a taxi to take you around. In 2000, was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Saint Louis is big on tourism and it continues to attract tourists into Senegal regularly. The city is a melting pot of cultural diversity, blending the local with the French and Mediterranean Arabs, a feat which is reflected greatly in the cuisine and lifestyle
Saint Louis is one of the most important tourist destinations in Senegal. Made up of the island which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and known in Wolof as N’Dar; the Langue de Barbarie, a peninsula; and the mainland (Sor). Saint Louis is a port city with an active fishing community traversing the Senegal River. Made up of several colonial buildings and structures, there is only one link between the island and the mainland - a 507m long and 10.5m wide bridge called Pont Faidherbe inaugurated in 1897. The bridge is a beautiful spectacle pictured at night with its brilliant lights on, and the reflection dancing in the waters below; it’s one of the highlights of the city. To the south of another tourist delight – the Gouvernance or Governor’s Office is the area where the Europeans first settled. There you will find a cathedral, the oldest church in West Africa consecrated in 1828.
Then there is the Grande Mosquée de Saint Louis constructed in 1847. Not to be missed are the IFAN Museum, Chambre de Commerce, and an old 20-ton crane at the end of the docks after the French school. The peninsula is connected to the island by the smaller Servatius Bridge renamed Pont Mustapha Malick Gaye. There is an active fishing community Guet N’Dar on the peninsula, and you can see trucks waiting to pick up fish. Out of the city, the Parc National de la Langue de Barbarie is a must see. The bird island is in the middle of River Senegal about 11km south of Saint Louis. Réserve Spéciale de Faune de Geumbeul located 10km on the same way houses a couple of mammals, birds species, reptiles and the African Spurred Tortoise. Further away in the Senegal River delta is Parc National des Oiseaux du Djoudj, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981.
There is an exotic range of menu available in Saint Louis derived from the various cultural influences that pervades the city. Local snacks and delicacies can be bought on the streets at any Tangana shacks.
Being close to Mauritania, there is a Maghreb influence in the city’s menu. Naturally, European influence in the menu is dominated by French cuisine. Choice restaurants ranging from Vietnamese and Indian to local are available on the island. Food is cheaper on the mainland than on the island, while there are few options on the peninsula bar and hotels.
Coffee is a pastime and you can grab a cuppa on the street at a Café Touba. Exotic drinks, wines and spirits are available at the restaurants and bars; while for a night of fun and dancing, most clubs are on the islands with a few on the peninsula, like Club Papayer on the Hydrobase.