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What You Need To Know about Bizerte

Bizerte is the oldest city in Tunisia, the northernmost city in Africa. Bizerte lies along the Mediterranean coast. Bizerte is the least Tunisian, and the most French, city in Tunisia. Inexpensive to reach, Bizerte is one of the most beautiful holiday destinations. Offering lagoons, extravagant wildlife, beaches and healing sunshine, Bizerte is exotic and lush offering diversified activities.

Population:142 966 (2014)

Currency

  • The Tunisian dinar is the official currency in Tunisia, subdivided into 1,000 milim or millimes.
    The dinar was set out as the new currency in Tunisia in 1958, although it did not start to be used until 1960. Until that moment, the official currency had been the franc and the equivalence to the new currency was of 1,000 francs to 1 dinar.
    You cannot export Tunisian currency, and for that reason your bank cannot order any for you to take with you.
    Most tourists arrive with no currency – it’s easy enough to obtain it.The exchange rate is fixed by the Government, and you will be offered that rate at the airport and at your hotel.
    You may find it better to exchange some currency at these locations rather than use ATMs.
    Nearly all banks and credit cards place huge surcharges on overseas transactions.
    Again, note that it is illegal to take ANY Tunisian currency out of the country.
    You must change back ALL currency**, including coins, when you leave.You can still make purchases at the airside shops and cafes, since they take a range of non-Tunisian currencies, notably Euro, GBP and USD.The Tunisian authorities have the right to search your baggage and spot-searches are common.
    They really do mean it – NO currency is to be exported.

    Before leaving the country you should contact your bank and let them know where you’re going to and for how long, otherwise you could have your card(s) blocked due to irregular spending patterns.
    However, a lot of banks just ignore this, so make sure you’ve got your bank’s telephone number written down – you may need it!

Weather

In Bizerte, the climate is warm and temperate. There is more rainfall in the winter than in the summer in Bizerte. The Köppen-Geiger climate classification is Csa. The average annual temperature in Bizerte is 18.0 °C. The rainfall here averages 527 mm.
The driest month is July. There is 3 mm of precipitation in July. With an average of 101 mm, the most precipitation falls in December.
With an average of 25.7 °C, August is the warmest month. January has the lowest average temperature of the year. It is 11.2 °C.

Language

Arabic is the official language, and most natives speak a dialect of Tunisian Arabic. Modern Standard Arabic is taught in schools. The cultural Arabization of the country was largely completed by the end of the 12th century, and currently only a tiny fraction of the population—most of them in the south—still speak one of the Berber languages. French, introduced during the protectorate (1881–1956), came into wider use only after independence, because of the spread of education. It continues to play an important role in the press, education, and government. To a lesser extent, English and Italian also serve as lingua francas.
It’s essentially a bilingual country. French was the official language of education in the early Bourguiba years, and it continues to be taught from early primary school level, though perhaps not with the same enthusiasm. It’s still spoken everywhere and used widely in advertising.
There’s no better way to make friends and impress people in Tunisia than to venture even a few words in Arabic, not to mention the advantage it will afford you when it comes to bargaining. A good grasp of French will also make life much easier, though Tunisians are usually friendly enough to persist with smiles and hand gestures when there’s no common language.

Health and security

  • Though Tunisia is a thriving, forward-looking society, its health-care system does not yet match that of most western countries. Also, expats from western countries should take note that the vast majority of staff in most public hospitals will not speak fluent English, and so communicating in French or Arabic will be the only option. Public hospitals are often overcrowded and have low quality equipment.As you have to pay for treatment in hospitals, it is strongly advised that anybody living in Tunisia takes out some solid private health insurance. At private clinics, it is much easier to find English speaking physicians and the quality of specialized facilities will be much higher.If you are staying outside of Tunisia’s resorts and tourist hotspots, it is advisable to be cautious. For foreigners that live in Tunisia, the main risks are theft-related — i.e. pick pocketing and mugging. Female expats should be careful with their handbags and purses, while men should be careful with where they flash their wallets.
  • Unfortunately, street harassment of females is a problem in Tunisia. Though there are no religious restrictions on how women dress, clothing that shows a lot of skin can attract negative attention. Another problem is kidnapping, a crime that targets both natives and expats. The best advice is to stick to the busy areas, where there is generally a noticeably high police presence.

DON’T

  • Being a progressive Muslim country, alcohol availability is restricted (but not greatly) to certain licensed (and invariably more expensive) restaurants, resort areas and Magasin General shops. Large department stores and some supermarkets sell beer and wine, and some local and imported hard liquors, except during Muslim holidays. Some bars will refuse to admit women, others may ask for a passport to check nationality.
  • Be aware that the export of Tunisian currency is forbidden and searches of wallets and purses can, and do, occur at airports.

DO

  • The market is a lovely example of an old town retaining its importance. It is located behind the large coffee shops that line the waterside in the middle of the port. You can either enter the market via the steps behind the large mosque in the centre of the port, which takes you to the fruit and vegetable section, or enter on the other side, on a street that has more fruit and vegetable stalls. This entrance leads into the famous fish market.

    The market offers a fantastic selection of produce and it feels vibrant, especially on the weekends. You can get all your food here and can buy a variety of things from the shops that line the road behind. It is worth having an Arabic speaker with you to make sure you get the best price. The fish market in particular is fascinating, it is not so much the variety as the sounds and smells. If you raise your eyes, you can see the tiles and artwork above your head that for years has shown the customers the available products.

    Once you have finished in the market, walk down the road which has shops lining it, keeping the large mosque to your left. This road has a mixture of buildings from the colonial period and an eclectic mix of newer additions, which, although sometimes scruffy, provide the shops that are still popular today. There are a number of tourist shops here where you can buy popular souvenir items and also one shop that seems to sell nothing but eggs.

  • Visit the theatre, This theatre is the home of the famous Bizerte festival, which apparently started in the old fort itself and has grown to such a size that it attracts acts from all over Tunisia and the Arabic Music World.