"Where water is rich in salt"

The railway station of Antsirabe, Madagascar

To speak of Antsirabe, the most learned will prefer to date dates, and they are indeed multitude to have marked the history of this beautiful city of waters. 1872, for example, with the installation of the Norwegian pastor Rosaas, a true father of the antsirabian thermalism, who also discovered interesting fossils that he sent to the Oslo Museum. Or 1873, when Queen Ranavalona II made a memorable stop on her way to Fianarantsoa with a sequel estimated at more than 60,000 people. Why not 1903, when Antsirabe dethroned Betafo as the main city of the Vakinankaratra, 1922 which saw the inauguration of the first big hotel for the curists, followed shortly after by that of the station?

The 50's are not without interest, with the exile in Madagascan land of the King of Morocco. It was even in the hospital "Atsimo" that Princess Lalla Amina was born, which wanted to return in pilgrimage in 2003 to inaugurate the Place Mohamed V. But for the youth, that of today as that of the day before yesterday, "Bira" of its diminutive is first of all the city of the legendary folk group Mahaleo who has not taken a wrinkle for 40 years ...

Pousse pousse of Antsirabe, Madagascar

Antsirabe is an industrial city thanks to its textile, tobacco and agri-food industry, and is known for its environment and tranquility. Its broad avenues dragged by a line swish with a traffic spared by pollution because dominated by bicycles and comfortable rickshaws. This serenity that happily carries the four-color of the postcards gives way, at the end of some transversal street, to more traditional districts with their shops and their houses packed one against the others in the bottom of the courtyards. 70% of Antsirabe's population is of rural origin, and it is not surprising that hiking in rural areas is highly valued here, along flexible routes that may include artisanal or blacksmith villages, as well as Middle mountain in stone researchers.

It is very fresh in winter and some mornings wrapped in mist can rise on frost deposits covering lawns. This is also the charm of Antsirabe, like its great "classics" that are the Park of the East, the racecourse, lakes Andraikiba and Tritriva. And to finish as we started on a date, why not that of 1935, year of birth in a superb setting of Vosges mountains of the very first golf of Madagascar? In Antsirabe, of course...

Text: Thompson Andriamanoro
Photos Pierre-Yves Babelon

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