St Louis

Colonial St Louis

Travel to St. Louis – Colonial Town on Senegal River

St. Louis (Saint-Louis) is a West African city rich in history with narrow streets, colonial architecture, wooden balconies and beautiful patios. Originating from 1659 as a French colonial settlement the city was built on the mainland, an island and a peninsula – evenually connected by bridges.

The old colonial part of the city lies on the island – Ile de N’Dar – reached via the 500 metre long Pont Faidherbe bridge. Over the years St. Louis has built a well-deserved reputation for its jazz music and festivals, cultural life and joyous celebrations of holidays.

Saint-Louis was urbanised in the mid-19th century. It was the capital of Senegal from 1872 to 1957 and played an important cultural and economic role in the whole of West Africa. It was a key trading port during the 18th and 19th centuries and, like Goree Island near Dakar was a major slave depot.

The location of the town on an island at the mouth of the Senegal River, its regular town plan, the system of quays, and the characteristic colonial architecture give Saint-Louis its distinctive appearance and identity.

There is certainly plenty of things to do in and around St. Louis. Walking, cycling, fishing, quad-biking, wind surfing, kite surfing and day trips to nearby National Parks of Djoudj and Langue de Barbarie are all popular activities.

St. Louis has many restaurants, bars and clubs and on most nights live music can be found somewhere. A stay in the old town provides a real opportunity to unwind and soak up the relaxed atmosphere.

St. Louis has an airport, 7 km from the centre of town, though this is served infrequently. Most travellers arrive in St. Louis by road, coming north from Dakar, some 260 km away (a 4 to 6 hour drive depending on vehicle and traffic). Within St. Louis taxis are available (fixed prices) or consider hiring a bicycle.

  • Stroll around the old town on a walking tour and admire wonderful French colonial architecture.
  • Famous for nightlife, head out at night and enjoy live St. Louis jazz music in an atmospheric venue.
  • Little-known to the English-speaking world, spend a week in St. Louis and enjoy a range of interesting day trips.

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Africa Travel Information