Libreville is the largest city of Gabon and also its capital. Located in central Africa, this city is a port and timber trade center on the Komo River near the Gulf of Guinea. This vibrant city has a population of around half a million people and compared to the other capitals in the region, is a fairly modern looking town in parts with casinos and large hotels lining the nicest beaches in town. Libreville International Airport is the largest airport in Gabon and is located around 11 kms north of the city.
The city’s major districts are Batterie I, Quarter Louis (residential area known for its nightlife), Mont-Bouet and Nombakele (busy commercial areas), Glass (The first European settlement), Oloumi (a major industrial area) and Lalala (residential area).
The drier and cooler months are between June and August, which is the best time to visit Gabon, and the short, dry period is between December and January. It is warm and tropical in this city all year round.
Libreville was founded as a town by freed slaves in 1848. The French navy had stopped a Portuguese ship carrying the slaves to Brazil and let the liberated women and men settle in Libreville. ‘Libreville’ literally means ‘free town’ in French. Slowly the city grew up until independence from France in 1960 and has since had steadily increased its population. Almost half of all Gabonese now live in the capital.
You can eat like a king in Libreville – the variety and quality of restaurants is surprisingly better than one would expect. Restaurants are a variety of cultures ranging from French to Japanese, Chinese and Vietnamese and Gabon specialises in bush meat so you can find python, crocodile, porcupine and even monkey. The prices in the restaurants in Libreville can vary incredibly, from top quality French cuisine at extraordinary prices such as Le Phare du Large and Le Bateau Ivre to local joints which are far more affordable. Labenese restaurants often the best value for money and are called ‘Cuisine Mediterraneenne’.
Top attractions in Libreville are Musee des Arts et Traditions which offers a good insight into Gabon’s thriving arts scene which is very traditional. Masks, sculptures and crafts. If you want to buy your own masks and curios, you can always head to the artisan market; L’Eglise St-Michel (St Michael’s Cathedral) which has the bible depicted in scenes on thirty one carved wooden columns; the Presidential Palace which was built in 1970 and is an interesting building that rises fro the low-lying landscape of the city; the French cultural centre; the Arboretum de Sibang and Point-Denis Beach, one of Libreville’s two primary beaches, it offers camping in addition to standard beach activities.