Sidi Bou Saïd, Tunisia

Photo: Ghiyaal [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Ghiyaal [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons
A Tunisia trip has to be put on hold again. Since 2011, when its president was ousted in an uprising, you’ve been waiting for your chance to return to your favorite North African country. The country was relatively stable—especially compared to some of its terrorist-controlled neighbors—as it transitioned from an autocratic to democratic government. But now those forward-thinking lawmakers have resigned after the new president’s son tried to seize more control. While travel safety can no longer be guaranteed.

You’d been hoping to return to Sidi Bou Saïd, a picturesque town along the Gulf of Tunis. It was named after a Christian saint who lived, established a sanctuary, and was eventually buried there in the 12th and 13th centuries. Later, in the 18th century, it became a retreat for the Turkish governors who ruled Tunis, 20 kilometers to the south. The blue-and-white village, which wouldn’t look out-of-place in Greece, is now known for its traditional architecture, winding alleys, and boat-filled marina. Blue doors and flowering vines adorn houses. Artists are inspired by the gorgeous surroundings. Cafés with water-view terraces serve mint tea and strong coffee. Golden-sand beaches line the coast. Plus each gust of wind blows the scent of jasmine through town.

La Villa Bleue, a boutique hotel, would be your home during your visit. The traditional-style house, which sits on the cliffs just north of town, is filled with strong columns and carved plaster ceilings, marble and ceramics. Drinks are served on the balcony upon arrival to immediately show off the 180-degree view of the turquoise sea. The rooms perfectly combine traditional and modern designs, Arab and Andalusian spirits. Your room of choice, a junior suite, features white walls, white-and-gray bedding, and blue chairs. Doors open to a balcony, where two more chairs and a table offer another framed view of the water.

Photo: La Villa Bleue
Photo: La Villa Bleue

There would be no rush once you arrived at the villa. You’d decompress from your flight and train ride along the coast by sitting by one of the two pools, relaxing in the hammam, and maybe treating yourself to a massage. You’d watch boats return to the harbor as the sun disappeared for the day. You’d eat vegetables from the garden and freshly caught seafood prepared by the French chef on the terrace for dinner. The Tunisian spices would awaken your senses—and your sense of adventure. Then, with the windows open and the fresh air circulating, you’d fall into a deep and blissful sleep.

The best pastries outside of Paris are served back on the terrace in the morning. Then you’d head into town to visit the small museums, the Centre of Arab and Mediterranean Music, and the little souk. You’d haggle over a blue-and-white birdcage, buy a sugar-coated donut, and sip more strong coffee. You’d pop into galleries, walk along the waterfront, and make your way to the beaches. And you’d quickly remember why Tunisia had always been your favorite country along Africa’s northern coast. Keep those travel plans handy. Hopefully you’ll be able to visit this beautiful blue-and-white village again soon.

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