THINGS TO DO IN PORT-AU-PRINCE
Product designers Corinne Joachim Sanon Symietz and Valerie Louis, founders of Les Chocolateries Askanya and textile brand Yael et Valerie respectively, share their favorite things to do in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Both women operate their businesses there.
Credit: Villa Bambou
THINGS TO DO IN PORT-AU-PRINCE: WHERE TO STAY?
ASKANYA: Inn at Villa Bambou – a small, secluded and exclusive boutique hotel within a Gingerbread Mansion in a green lush setting. The Clintons have stayed there; they are my customers for the chocolate. Contact Monica Ansaldi at the hotel if you are ready to travel.
I would also recommend La Lorraine – a boutique hotel in the middle of Petion-Ville. It is very accessible. I have stayed there. The hotel has a very nicely curated boutique of Haitian products. They don’t carry Askanya Chocolates, but that’s ok! Contact Lorraine when you call.
YAEL ET VALERIE: I’ve been working in the tourism field for 11 years and I must say that the best experience in Haiti is its people revealed in our history, art, tradition, culture, insane creativity, love of life, and sense of hospitality. I would gladly be the tour guide for this friend trip! Hospitality is an all-Haitian-second-passion. I would recommend any hotel, part of the Haiti Tourism Association. The best experience is visiting the provinces in Haiti, it’s less crowded, so this is where you’ll appreciate our creativity and happiness.
THINGS TO DO IN PORT-AU-PRINCE: RESTAURANTS
ASKANYA: Papaye – it’s a modern take on Caribbean food and very delicious. Also, Cinq Coins – an institution – the best Haitian street food. Started in one location in the city center, now has 5 locations throughout Port-au-Prince.
YAEL ET VALERIE: Haitian cuisine is the best! It’s the fusion of French, African, and Indian. It’s fancy, classic, and exotic all at once! We mostly eat organic food since our fruits come from our trees, our fish from our sea, and our vegetables from our land. My favorite restaurant would be Papaye Restaurant. I keep myself from going there every week, I really try!
THINGS TO DO IN PORT-AU-PRINCE: WHAT TO EXPLORE?
ASKANYA: Visit the Iron Makers of the village of Noailles, Village Artistique de Noailles, to experience this incredibly creative and collaborative place. Find original sculptures such as frames, candle holders and furniture created from recycled metal. Also explore Pascale Theard’s Studio and if you’re in town in November the Artisanat en Fete – the premier Haitian Artisan fair will be taking place. Other places to visit include Musee du Pantheon National with its beautiful architecture and historic building exhibits. You could even go to dinner at the restaurant next door or visit Barbancourt Rhum, one of Haiti’s most famous exports – since the 1800s.
YAEL ET VALERIE: Besides the beaches and mountains, a visit to the Citadelle La Ferriere is a must. This huge fort was built by a Haitian Emperor. You will also find amazing inspiration in art galleries and museums, my favorites are Galerie Nader, Trois Visages, Maison Dufort, and Mupanah. Arts also flourish in the streets; they're as beautiful as the ones in the galleries!
Explore Haitian design by shopping Askanya chocolates and the Yael et Valerie collection on 54kibo. The Yael et Valerie collection includes textiles that are inspired by Haitian architecture and commemorate the beautiful aspects found in nature on the island.