The Marché l’Artisan is the market for beautiful artisanal goods from Madagascar in the busy, bustling capital city of Antananarivo. A wonderful way to immerse yourself in the Malagasy culture is by exploring its colourful markets. It’s also a great way to support local business when selecting treasured mementoes to take home with you. From beautifully woven bags to quaint little tin cars, read below find out what’s on offer and where to find it.
With money in your pocket and a 30kg weight allowance, one could easily lose their head over the hundreds of colourful stalls. While you wander through the market, take note that each stall displays a number at the top – something you will find very useful later, when you need to re-discover the stall with the best selection of silk scarves.
Souvenirs to look out for are the expertly made tin cars and bikes in all varieties of colour, size and model of vehicles found in Madagascar. These fantastic models are ingeniously assembled using household waste. Tin cans, electrical wire, telephone cable and IV tubes are some of the waste products used to create these wonderfully Malagasy handicrafts.
Others goodies to look for are items made from zebu horn. Especially quaint are the salt and pepper pots which are shaped like turtles. You lift up the turtle’s shell to find a well of salt and dish from the teeny spoon held firmly in the turtle’s mouth. Other stalls sell multi-coloured scarves made from wild silk, existing nowhere else but in Madagascar. You will also find hand-made paper, and a multitude of raffia items from bags and baobabs, to chameleons and lemurs. Popular favourites are the joyfully coloured bags in every size, shape and design. These all make great gifts for friends and family back home.
The market displays such local creativity and talent that really makes the best use of all the materials (both waste and natural) found in Madagascar. Some small towns or villages have totally immersed themselves in their speciality and their handicrafts. An excellent way of witnessing these crafts is to experience our 1000 Views of Madagascar tour, where you will pass by many villages of the industry.
If you have a spare afternoon in Tana and a predilection for shopping, you should definitely plan a trip to the handicrafts market. Open on Monday – Saturday from 09h00 until 17h00, it is located about halfway between the airport & town.
No prices are shown on the products in the market, so you will have to take your sense of humour and a bright smile along with you, and negotiate with the stallholders. This really is part of the fun, and although it does take time, you will not feel any aggression or pushiness that you may have experienced in other tourism markets worldwide.
Lastly, remember to bring enough local currency with you, as you are not able to change money at the market.