Shopping in Antananarivo

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If shopping is your thing then  Antananarivo Shopping can be delightful if you are ready to explore the local markets and spend some time haggling over prices.  The markets of Tana could be for you because they sell almost anything and cater to both tourists and locals alike. The cost of each item will vary depending on whether you are a local or a tourist, but bargaining is acceptable and can be an interesting experience in itself. From clothes to tacky souvenirs to all the fruit you can eat, you are sure to find something memorable to purchase in the markets.

The once famous Zoma market no longer operates as it once did, but bustling markets can be found at the top of the Avenue of Independence and also past the railway station at the bottom of the Avenue of Independence. The markets are fun places to visit, but they can be crowded and care must be taken with any valuables that you may be carrying or wearing.

As a tourist, you should be prepared to argue for much lower than the quoted amount and usually, the shopkeepers will oblige you. However, this is applicable only to the local markets of Antananarivo which are also the most delightful and truly African. The super-malls and branded retailers aren’t forthcoming in this regard. Reading-up on a few French terms is recommended since French words are often used by the Antananarivo natives owing to the long, French occupation of Madagascar. To make you shopping experience more enlightening, use the following information.

Shopping for Handicrafts

The Marche artisanal Digue is regarded as the biggest market of native African handicrafts in Antananarivo. This bustling market sells everything from embroidery items to wood carvings. You can also find creations made of smooth leather and a special paper called ‘Antaimoro paper.’ Reaching the Digue market is easy since it is located near the airport and most locals can direct you toward it. When approaching from the city center, it is about 4 km toward the northwest. Apart from the handicrafts, the Digue also offers semi-precious items like colored stones and home-decor creations made from rare silks.

If you are looking for more reasonable handicrafts, the back lanes of Avenue of Independence can be explored. There are some permanent stalls here that sell locally-made woven straw items and wood-carvings apart from hand looms and straw hats.

Just about 2 km from the city center of Antananarivo lies the Andravoahangy market. This market is regarded as a haven for those enthralled by sculptures. In fact, many of the wood-carvings created by the tribal Zafimaniry members are regularly exported to the more organized markets of Europe. You can also shop for lamba fabrics and ivory-tipped chessboards or silver shells. Palisandre wood-boxes have become a perennial hit among tourists visiting the Andravoahangy.

Shopping for Fruits

This may sound trivial but traveling in Madagascar without a local fruit in your hand is close to committing a sin. It is worth highlighting that many of the Mediterranean and European fruits originated in Africa and hence, you may be surprised to find bigger, juicier varieties of common fruits like apples and peaches. For gorging on some very affordable fruits, visit the streets of Antaninarenina and Analakely where street-vendors sell fruits throughout the day. You can also pick-up the freshest of the lot from the fruit-sellers around the parking area in Avenue of Independence.

Other Notable Shopping Places in Antananarivo:

Baobab Company

The shop specializes in selling t-shirts with exaggerated motifs. The motifs are usually a spin-off of the native, Malagasy Gods. The branch around Hotel Sakamanga is among the busiest ones.

Soarano Market

Located near the city’s main train station, it sells every kind of medicinal/herbal preparation.

Bio Aroma, 54 Avenue General, Ramanantsoa

This place is recommended if you want to buy some reasonably-priced skincare products prepared with natural ingredients. They shop also offers services like massages and pedicures.

You can also shop at souvenir shops like:

  • Centre National de l´artisanat Malagasy (silk items and embroidered creations). Location: 67 Rue Agosthino Neto, BP 540 Antananariv
  • Lisy Art Gallery (arts and crafts). Location: Route de Mausolee
  • Viva Home (specialists in wood-crafts). Location: inside the Zoom Gallery in Ankorondrano
  • Atelier Liankant (souvenir ship models). Location: Mandrosoa Ivato, Lot MD 314, 105 Antananarivo

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March 16, 2010 change by ak1980

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