GABES / CHENINI
Many travel guidebooks, unfairly, portray Gabes as a place for “passing through” – but this is doing the city a huge disservice. Gabes is so much more than just a transit town, even if it does provide the perfect base for exploring Matmata to the west and is also dubbed the Gateway to the Sahara”.
Situated on the edge of Mediterranean waters, Gabes is a thriving agricultural hub with abundant crops of sun-blessed dates, olive and figs are harvested in traditional style. Since bygone times, local fishermen have trawled the fertile waters of the Gulf of Gabes for tuna, shrimp, octopus and sweet, plump razor clams. Each morning, the fishing port becomes a hive of activity as the fishermen are welcomed back to shore and bulging hauls are spilled out onto the quayside. Gabes was founded as a Phoenician harbour and today’s jumble of nets, buoys, boats and ropes remains an important gathering point with baskets, hulls, netting and lines are mended in a salty north-easterly breeze. With its pleasant beaches, Gabes boasts a truly splendid oasis, split into two and fed by an ever-running stream that empties into itself into the sea amidst salt spray, dates and palms.