Parakou is a city in Northern Benin.
The name Parakou, is derived from the Dendi word meaning "The city of everyone". It is one of the ethnically diverse cities in Benin that includes Bariba, Dendi, Somba, Fon, Mina, Berba, Djerma, Ibo, Yoruba, Hausa, Kabrais, Warma, Fula and Tuareg people.
Parakou is the northern rail terminus and although the tracks are in a pretty bad shape it is possible to travel from Cotonou here. Departures are at 8:30AM from Cotonou on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. On its way up the country, the train also stops at Bohicon, just outside UNESCO world heritage site and royal city of Abomey, before arriving in Parakou at 7 PM. Tickets start at CFA 5600 for first class.
If you are travelling in a group, a more leisurely way of reaching Parakou from Cotonou would be via the privately-run tourist Train d’Ebene, operated by Voyageur SARL [dead link] and composed of vintage railroad cars from the 1920s. The trip includes dinner, a bar and hammocks for afternoon naps. The train operates on request and can accommodate up to 20 persons. Prices begin at CFA 400,000.
- Musée en Plein Air de Parakou. An outdoor museum with traditional houses of the local Batanou people. Entrance 1500 CFA.
- The Hotel les Routiers has its own zoo with alligators, turtles, warthogs, a small gazelle, and various birds.
A visit to Grand Marché Arzeke, one of the largest in Benin, is a must when visiting Parakou. With more than a thousand vendors you'll find anything from fine rugs to fake DVDs.
- The Hotel les Routiers has works of art for sale including carved wooden masks, wall-hangings and jewelry.
- La Face Douane. Serves generous portions of mainly African cuisine.
- Le Bataclan (Opposite Hotel Princesse).
- KMM Club.
- Hotel Princesse, ☏ .