Grand Marché

Market in Djenné

Every Monday, the wide open area in front of the mosque is transformed into the clamorous Monday Market, which has barely changed since the days when Saharan camel caravans brought salt across the sands to the gates of Djenné. Thousands of traders and customers come from miles around, and many of these itinerant traders follow the calendar of local market days in the region's villages, their week culminating in Djenné.

Most arrive the night before, and by 06:00 on market day traders are already staking out the best sites (ie those with shade). By mid- to late-morning (the best time to visit the market), the open square in front of the mosque is filled with traders selling everything from cloth to calabashes, spices to spaghetti and pottery to pungent local foods and prize goats. It spills over into the surrounding streets, especially those to the west. It's all the more atmospheric because it's a local's market, with little on sale for tourists, and stallholders are too busy hawking their wares to each other to worry about the intrusion of travellers. Put simply, this market experience is not to be missed.