The medina is by far the most popular part of the city for tourists, and with good reason. The Arabic old town, featuring sinuous alleyways with blank walls, beautiful vaulted alleys and famous monumental doors hiding palaces, is the historical core of Tunis. It is a true architectural wonder and became a UNESCO Humanity World Heritage site in 1979. Restoration is constantly in progress on many buildings in order to preserve the rich cultural heritage of the city. The medina mainly encompasses animated Souks selling spice blends, incense, perfume extract, and tanned leather, where the finest handicrafts share space with "Made in China" baubles. Throughout the passing of the centuries, the Souks remained as dynamic as ever, as can be seen for example in the
Forget the oriental charm of the Arabic medina and immerse yourself in this animated, Europeanized and Mediterranean-lifestyle downtown. The construction of the New Town started in the beginning of the French colonial times after the lagoon was drained, filled and converted to buildable land. The core of it consists in the most famous Avenue in Tunis, namely the Habib Bourguiba Avenue, which plots a central axis from the east to the west, starting from the medina entrance (Paris Avenue) to the Tunis Lake (by the TGM Station to La Marsa). From
Les Berges du Lac
Literally meaning “the banks of the lake,” Les Berges du Lac is the new business district of Tunis. This area started to expand during the 1990, as a result of a great urbanization project of the lagoon between the airport and the Tunis Lake. The whole landscape is a mix of modern buildings and parking lots and is a far cry from the historical atmosphere of downtown. Along with some wealthy residential districts, most of the area is occupied by both Tunisian and international companies. Many diplomatic offices have settled here, including the British and the American embassies. Shopping precincts are slowly developing, most notably, imported high-end clothing stores, located in the area of the Carré du Lac. There are also a growing number or coffee houses and restaurants, some of which have a terrace and great view of the lake (such as the restaurant and tea house Biwa, behind the Golden Bowling, open all day long until midnight), and others, like the nice tea house with terrace Le Phuket's near the Lac Palace mall. The district offers also recreation sites: the area surrounding the amusement park
From Tunis, this is the first city stop on the TGM (the Tunis-Goulette-Marsa railway line) enroute to La Marsa, after a ten kilometer-long (six mile-long) crossing of a water. La Goulette is Tunis' trading harbor, from which the ferries leave for the other side of the Mediterranean Sea. This Tunis outpost location assumed a strategic importance in the 16th Century, during the fights between the Ottomans and the Spanish to extend their respective influences on the Mediterranean Sea. The Kasbah Fortress, which unfortunately now is in ruins, stands as a reminder of the storming of La Goulette by Charles Quint. The Ottomans used La Goulette as a prison for the thousands meant to become slaves during the Mediterranean piracy times. Centuries after, during the colonization, the French used also the place as a prison. From the 1950s to the 1970s, La Goulette enjoyed a heyday which is immortalized in the French movie by Ferid Boughdir, Summer in La Goulette. People remember those times as a little Mediterranean paradise where Jews, Christians, Muslims, and Sicilian immigrants lived together and made a triumphal welcome to Habib Bourguiba when he came back from France in 1955. La Goulette features a long popular beach and basic white-and-blue houses and is of little interest for the tourists. However Tunis city dwellers used to come to La Goulette to enjoy one of its good seafood restaurants which have built the reputation of the main drag, the Franklin Roosevelt Avenue.
It's hard to imagine that a city that struck fear into the heart of Roma once stood here. This calm posh suburb to the north of Tunis is also now the place of residence of the Tunisian President. To get a hint of this glorious past, you have to go in search of the spreading archeological vestiges between the rich villas of the wealthy Carthage city-dwellers. You will have to forget the part of the archeologist in search of vanished cities and play the one of a city dweller visiting a suburb. Even if the Carthage archeological sites, part of the UNESCO Humanity World Heritage, may not be the most impressive of the Mediterranean basin, it would be a shame not to admire the vestiges of this fabulous ancient city while visiting the
Sidi Bou Saïd
Sidi Bou Saïd is a tourist and picturesque village located 20 kilometers (12 miles) from Tunis. The village overhangs the Bay of Tunis and its 18th-century residences are illuminated by their dazzling white walls and the gorgeous blue of their doors and moucharabies. This ancient village really developed in the 13th Century when the Sufi Abou Saïd settled his Zaouia (religious friary) here. Around his revered tomb a village was built which was devoted to military defense during the medieval period and then became a place for the wealthy Tunis city dwellers. In the beginning of the 20th Century, Baron Rodolphe d'Erlanger erected his palace here and contributed to the architectural preservation of the white and blue village colored by its bougainvilleas. Sidi Bou Saïd has hosted famous visitors, such as the French writers André Gide and Simone de Beauvoir, along with Michel Foucault, Henri Matisse and Paul Klee, who used to go to the Moorish coffeehouse of the
This seaside city is particularly appreciated by the Tunis city dwellers who escape the city once the summer heat comes. It features private and modern villas with blossoming gardens down to the beach. There are also streets with many different shops such as the TGM train station with the
Roughly speaking, Gammarth is a seaside and posh Tunis suburb area. It is just north of La Marsa, 20 kilometers (12 miles) away from Tunis. It's long beach and eucalyptus forest have been covered by high end seaside resorts and rich villas.