The Plateau or an eye into Côte d’Ivoire
If there was any neighbourhood apart from Central Cocody that could be my favourite it would be the Plateau. The Plateau is what can be considered the center of Abidjan. During its haydays, it has made the pride of Ivoirians, thanks to its high buildings. They are the reason for the nickname ‘Little Manhattan’ given to Abidjan. It is also that for me, the centre of Abidjan, the centre of Côte d’Ivoire.
When I was growing up in Morocco, I used to have flashes of images of my homeland. This is something that I still experience, but now the images are about Morocco and England mainly, how ironic ! Back to the point, the memories were about my parents’ workplace which is situated in the Plateau. Being a child I would always see the trees of that neighbouhood as extremely high and I relished the scrumptious cakes a lady was selling to the office workers each time my parents brought me with them. These were the dear memories that haunted me and the only ones that triggered in me a desire to see my homeland towards which I was rather indifferent at the time.
So when I came back to Côte d’Ivoire in 2013, I couldn’t wait to fill my eyes with the green of the trees’ leaves and the feel and atmosphere of happiness I recalled from my childhood. I went to the Plateau ! Almost as a tourist who had already been there, almost as if it was an expedition.
I sneaked inside my former high school, Notre Dame de la Paix, before the security guard saw me and roamed around opening my eyes wide to look at that architecture that I love and will forever delight in. The school was built at the time the French were heavily present in the land. The colonial architecture is intact for the older buildings but some buildings were added later which are clearly different in style. More modern and less stylish in my opinion. I suddenly felt like I wanted to go back to my boarding school to enjoy it. I hated it and all the girls with it. I couldn’t wait for it to end, but now I wanted to go back to it and make my heart love it and experience it in a different way. I spent 2 years in that school but it is only now that I see the value of it. During those 2 years the only thing I loved was the fact that I was in my favourite neighbourhood. Because it is not possible to visit the school I have made a small video to share its beauty.
I also got inside St Paul’s Cathedral. Now, these are all part of buildings built at the time of the first president of Côte d’Ivoire. A man of great taste who seemed not to look at the cost as long as the result was satisfying. So he asked an Italian architect to design the Cathedral which came to life in the 1980’s. I don’t know if anyone can be left indifferent to the beautiful stained glass. It’s all around the building and tells the story of the arrival of the missionaries a century before the cathedral was built. Besides the stained glass, the mosaïcs are a very good sight too. They cover the memorial of Monseigneur Agré who used to be a very respected priest while alive. Outside there is more, a huge statue in cross shape. It is supposed to be the Christ coming out of the sea with opened arms. The ‘Christ’ has stairs inside of its body and once on top of the cross you can behold the Plateau and neighbouring Cocody as well as the Ebrié Laguna.
While on top, take advantage to look at the administrative towers opposite the Cathedral. They look better from the outside ! They were also built in the 1980’s in order to shelter the different ministries of state and although they were renovated recently they don’t look attractive once you’re inside.
Everything inside has pretty remained fixed in the 1980’s, even the office workers in some cases :-) but the art deco style of the towers is what’s worth your snap.
I have never been inside the Pyramide but if you have never seen a building which looks like its covered in structured cascading golden leaves , it’s time you do. Despite its state I still find it attractive but it is squatted by some people you would not want to meet.
There is the BCEAO, the Bank of West Africa, opposite and on the same side of the road the VERSUS BANK which is a very interesting orange and blue triangular building. The BCEAO always reminds me of Transformers. It could easily be the arm of a robot of some kind while the VERSUS would be its head. Unfortunately by the time I reach that zone of Plateau it started raining, so this is all I was able to take.
The Plateau is a living architectural hotchpotch. For those in search of colonial buildings and feel, the south side of the neighbourhood offers houses galore with all the features you could think about. I suggest you start off from Cité RAN and walking to your left. If what interests you more is ‘little Manhattan’ the centre is better. Here and there you will also see buildings which belong in the nought era. Whatever floats your boat let me know by posting comments below.