Let me take you out of Geneva to visit an amazing city in Africa.
Earlier this year I went on a mission to Kigali in Rwanda.
This place amazed me right from the first moment I saw it, which was just before landing.
From the plane I could see a vast area of lights, in the sky a moonlight partly covered by clouds and some mist.
The climate was so cool as I walked out of the plane. I’d left Switzerland with -5 degrees Celsius (I know, you don’t want to remember that…) to find what felt like paradise to me: 17 to 29 degrees all year around.
Little did I know what I was about to discover the next morning: an amazing, colourful city, bustling with young people and energy. You can sense the reality of the fast evolution of this city looking at all the buildings, the roads, a very modern town, with a lot of trees and green areas. Many people walk around during the day and even at night; it’s full of shops, food, clothes…L-I-F-E!
Now allow me to suggests a few of my favourite spots.
The first night, my colleagues invited me to dinner in a beautiful Italian restaurant called Soleluna, with a terrace and a magnificent view of the city. From the first bite, you’ll feel you are in Italy. If you are a big fan of parmigiana (as I am…) you can order it eyes closed, it’s absolutely delicious.
Website | Facebook | Location | +250788859593
The next morning, in need of a strong espresso coffee (yes, I can’t wake up without one or two) I went to the Camellia Café. Located in the heart of the nicely called Chic building the view was a delight, looking at the Kigali hills, discovering the beauty of the city while eating an English breakfast or a Spanish tortilla and getting slowly accustomed to another kind of life.
Website | Facebook | Location | +250 735 500 003
Always looking for photographers, new inspirations and exhibitions, I spotted the Kigali Center for Photography before leaving Geneva and went there one afternoon for a short visit. Established by the self-taught photographer Jacques Nkinzingabo, the center promotes Rwandan and foreign photography through workshops and exhibitions.
Website | Facebook | Location | +250 784 579 943
Another place I found on the Internet before travelling was the Ivuka Arts Centre. Looking for an AirBnB place to stay, I spotted this art gallery where you spend the night as well. It’s my five star advice if you go to Kigali. Stay there and enjoy this little paradise. I felt at home with the artists (Jmv Munezero, Philippe and Patrick you will recognize yourself here) who were super nice and welcoming. During the day you can see painters at work, children around and admire the amazing view in the back of the property. There is a golf field there, and though I could not be less interested by this kind of activity, it offers a wide green park to look at, and the soothing sound of crickets at night. The gallery offers a wide range of local artists waiting to be discovered: a haven of peace and creativity.
Facebook | Location | +250788620560
One thing special about Rwanda and Kigali as well, are the hills. There are many of them, and it makes it sometimes difficult to find THE spot to get a full view of the city. The restaurant PiliPili on top of one of the hills has a terrace with a great view at night. With a delicious mojito in hand, you can either eat a pizza, sit next to the swimming pool to listen to good live music or watch a match on a wide screen. I chose to admire the city lights while eating a delicious Greek salad with my friends.
Website | Facebook | Location | +250728285800
Kigali expanded over the last two decades and so did the field of art. You will find two local artists, Emmanuel Nkuranga and Innocent Nkurunziza, who have their own gallery called the Inema art center. You can also attend collective exhibitions by local artists, where you can dance and eat on Thursday nights.
Website | Facebook | Location | +250783187646 | +250788653683
A usual treat for me in any place I visit when I spot quality is a Japanese meal. Kisekiis is a delightful restaurant owned by a Japanese family living in Kigali. At lunchtime an inventive buffet is at your disposal with customized sushi, tempuras, and salads… It’s also still possible to order a miso soup, edamame, ramen… from the menu. I indulged in a green tea ice cream and a delicious coffee served with a star shaped biscuit. It’s a wonderful place to relax, with a very interesting choice of music (Abdoulaye Diabaté that day).
Website | Facebook | Location |+250781403829
Last but not least as the expression says, two places in one.
La Brioche is a café, serving fresh juices, French bread and croissants. Addicted as we are to the www you get free Wi-Fi and can charge your phones/laptops there too.
A very cool place…
Website | Facebook |Location | +250728999405
In the same building, may I suggest that after a long day at work (that was case for me) or coming back from a trek in the mountains (perhaps you?) you treat yourself with a massage at the Spa Kigali Salon. Thanks to the advice of a great woman in Kigali, I asked for Aimée to give me a deep massage of an hour. She works effectively using her strength as well as her softness to get rid of all your accumulated tensions. I warmly recommend her.
Website | Facebook | Location | +250786194578
What else could I tell you about Kigali? Book a plane ticket and fly there!