If you visit Togo’s capital, Lomé, and don’t stop by the city’s largest market, did you go to Lomé!? But really, Grand Marché is easily the calmest market I’ve ever visited.
As expected from any large market in a city, the Grand Marché is where you can find any and everything from take-home souvenirs to clothing and live animals for sale!
If you can, get your hands on some wagashi, a delicious cheese commonly served with spicy green pepper. Pair it with Pemplemous, a sweet flavored local drink similar to lemonade.
It’s the perfect place to shop for souvenirs as merchants have stalls filled with goodies like keychains, wall art, purses, and other goods that tempt you to take them home to your loved ones.
Coming from Accra, it was pleasantly surprising to see how laid back the merchants were compared to those at Madina or Makola Market. The merchants at Grand Marché called me over to their stalls to take a look but were never overly aggressive in trying to sell their products.
When I visit local markets I’m usually being pulled, tapped, and even followed, so the Grand Marché gave me great insight into how calm the Togolese people are. For the first time, I felt like I was able to visit a market and truly take my time to explore and immerse myself in what was happening around me.
Generally, markets attract foreigners, and merchants are well aware of this, so they tend to charge their items higher. However, I found that most merchants were very honest in their pricing for items.
The market is also a great hangout spot for many locals, which I loved. Friends gathering inside a shop and having drinks as if the Marché was a local pub was refreshing. My guide and I also sat in a Nigerian-owned shop just talking to the merchants for an hour.
The Grand Marché has a very positive vibe and atmosphere. I found it very easy to connect with the locals at Grand Marché. Once a local noticed that I was a tourist in their home town, they immediately made me feel welcome. It felt like they wanted to connect with me on a personal level. It wasn’t all about trying to sell their product. I was taking a picture, and one lady called me over to take one with her, which was so sweet.
Togo is a francophone country, so French is, of course, the main language. This is important to keep in mind as I did not find many merchants who spoke English. I can understand enough French to get by and converse about the pricing of items, but if you can’t, having a French speaker with you will come in handy, especially if you need to bargain!
Using Google Translate is also a great option for navigating the possible language barrier.
Across the entrance of the Marché is a beautiful beach you can spend the day at afterward! There is plenty of seating available.
Of course, Grand Marché is your typical crowded marketplace with a lot going on around you. Still, the lively atmosphere of the market and its friendly locals make it worth visiting.