The Best Markets in Antananarivo, Madagascar
Raffia animals sold at market in Antananarivo | © Antony Stanley / Flickr
Markets hold a special place in Malagasy society: each area across the island nation has its own unique spot, where people meet and catch up while shopping for daily essentials. If you’re in Antananarivo and want to get a true sense of Malagasy life, or you’re in search of fresh food and local crafts, check out our pick of the best markets in town.
Ambohijatovo is the biggest place in all of Madagascar to find second-hand books. Bookworms will be in heaven here – it’s a great place to uncover old texts not often seen elsewhere. You’ll find more than 150 book sellers to keep you busy in Ambohijatovo, which dates back to the colonization period. Books here span many languages, including Malagasy, French, English, Spanish, German and even Chinese.
Pavillon Analakely is a mixed market where you can find anything from clothes, shoes, socks, bags, and suitcases, to blankets, toys, wedding outfits and accessories. However, this market is mainly known for its fresh vegetables and fruits which are brought in from small cities around Tanà, along with fresh meat and fish. On the other side of the Pavillon shops offer a range of needlework gear, baking utensils and medicinal plants.
This enclosed space is the Malagasy souk where you can find handmade products, including locally made clothes and shoes, ornaments, and second-hand goods. There’s also a section where where stalls offer crafts, fine stones and semi-precious gems. In fact, you can buy pretty much anything here.
Market, Dessert, $$$
Izay Maika is located in the heart of Analakely – this food court is the place to discover what the people of Madagascar eat in their everyday life. Starters include tomato, cucumber or carrot salads, while main courses can be anything from pork with cassava leaves or beans, vegetables with zebu, or just smoked fish with potatoes. There’s also a vast array of desserts and drinks (sweet and savoury fritters, fruit juice, hot drinks including coffee, tea, milk) to finish off your meal.
Pretty much anything you can think of that’s made in China is available here. The colorful and crowded market extends from Soarano Street to Behoririka Street, and from both sides of the street you can sift through goods imported from China: pyjamas, undergarments, dresses, trousers and artificial flowers, homeware. Inside is for those wanting to buy wholesale, while outside is for retailers.
Antaninarenina jewellery street
Jewellery shops are concentrated around Antaninarenina Street, from the post office heading towards Ambatonakanga. Crafted by local workers, jewellery here includes gold and silver rings, earrings, bracelets and necklace that showcase the mastery of this art and this tradition of Indian business in Madagascar. This is a must-visit destination for those interested in precious metals and gems.
Every Thursday, the area around the stadium of Mahamasina comes alive with the largest and most colorful market, Tsenan’Alakamisy. This hoarder’s paradise is a great place to spend your Thursday even if you don’t end up buying anything. The left side is taken up by second-hand goods like clothes, shoes, bags and even wooden furniture, while the right side is a fresh food market.
Roses, anthurium, plants, fertilizers and garden tools are among the delights you’ll find at Anosy near the public hospital (HJRA) – it’s the place to be for people who love plants and gardening. From here you can also order bouquets of flowers for weddings or engagements, with dried or fresh flowers. It’s a lovely spot to wander round, and makes for a colorful market experience.
La Grande Braderie
This market around the Palais des Sports Mahamasina takes place five times a year, and often offers a cash discount of up 20% on everything. The market opens in December (before Christmas and New Year’s Eve), in April (before Easter), at the end of May, in June (before Independence Day), and in September (before Malagasy children go back to school). The market sells clothes, shoes, school furniture, and hi-tech gear.
Craft Market of the Route Digue
This is the market where Justin Trudeau, the Canadian Prime Minister, visited before leaving Madagascar in 2016. This craft market sells various items made of stones such as white or pink quartz, labradorite, and amazonite. Other crafts sold at the market include raffia bucket bags, decorative carvings made of wood, and a variety of products created by local artisans. Hundreds of vendors sell their wares here in an effort to promote Malagasy products made using natural raw materials.