Bogotá rising

A university building, designed by Colombian architect Rogelio Salmona.
At 2,600 meters, the Colombian city soars in the Andean skies. From its steep streets, cultural summits and breathtaking panoramas, an exploration of the city brings elevation at every level.

1.

Up and running

There was a time when Bogotá discouraged initiatives. Colombia was groaning under the weight of stereotypes; guerillas and drug trafficking made it a less-than-ideal vacation destination. Today, all that is changing. Boosted by the peace process between the FARC rebels and the government, the city seems to be brimming with energy, its head held high and standing tall. Art galleries are burgeoning, restaurants are flourishing, faces look brighter and there’s a festive ambiance. So don’t miss the boat. With the 2017 France-Colombia Year, people will be flocking to this city that still lies off the beaten track. So one word of advice: get a move on!

2.

A capital in the sky

Bogotá? A sausage lying on a mountainsidethat’s how the inhabitants describe their capital. It’s true that the city stretches from the affluent neighborhoods in the north to the poorer neighborhoods in the south. Between the two lie a wide variety of zones: Usaquén, rapidly becoming a bobo heartland; the Zona Rosa, a magnet for nocturnal revelers; the gourmet hot spot Zona G, the superb city center that throngs with people and has an old-fashioned feel straight out of 1950s Madrid; and finally Candelaria, a sort of local Montmartre, a patchwork of bright colors that fizzes with energy thanks to all the young people studying at the universities on its hillsides. But the truth be told: the city’s traffic jams are a nuisance and trips from one neighborhood to another require forward planning. But there are so many surprises and contrasts. There is not one Bogo, but rather two, three or even ten Bogotás, stacked up in a pyramid!

3.

An escalation of museums

Walking up the little streets of Candelaria is also a spiritual ascent, thanks to the plethora of local museums. Pride of place goes to the Museo del Oro, flanked by the Museo Botero. In addition to the master’s delightful canvases, you can enjoy the captivating works from Botero’s own collection, which he donated to the city, with paintings by Dalí, Picasso, Delaunay, Klimt and Pissarro. Not to mention the exhibitions at the insightful and stimulating Museo de Arte del Banco de la República, and the magnificent Museo Nacional in a former Panopticon prison, worth visiting for the building alone. There’s plenty of mental stimulation in Bogotá, and signs of intellectual ferment can be detected all over town, where the ideals of the French Revolution that guided Simón Bolívar joust with the hypnotic genius of Indian traditions. Culture is a breath of fresh air here.

Museo del Oro

Carrera 6 #15-88. Tél. +57 1 343 2222.

Museo Botero

Calle 11 #41. Tél. +57 1 343 1316.

Museo de Arte del Banco de la República

Calle 11 #4-21. Tél. +57 1 343 1316.

Museo Nacional de Colombia

Carrera 7a #28-66. Tél. +57 1 381 6470.

www.museonacional.gov.co

4.

Heights of well-being

Stone may delight, but food nourishes. Here, it is no longer about physical ascent, but flights of culinary fancy. The Mercado 7 de Agosto is famous for its fresh produce, prized by restaurateurs. Every region in the country is represented in its stalls. The fruit cocktails here incorporate a crab placed live in the shaker (yes, that’s how it’s done), corn tortillas filled with cheese are stacked in piles, and local dishes are downed in the popular eateries upstairs. Along with these exceptional markets are numerous flower stalls, not to mention all the city’s countless flea markets. In addition, a few scattered shops hold the promise of well-being, with a range of esoteric remedies that ensure instant beauty, sudden wealth, eternal love and incredible health. What more could you ask for?

Plaza de mercado 7 de Agosto

5.

High-flying sport

Refreshed from the drinks and ointments, it’s time for some physical exertion. Even better than the jogging and cycling that takes place every Sunday on the Séptima (one of the main arteries, car-free that day) is tejo, played in spaces partitioned off by wire fencing to prevent unfortunate accidents. The tejo itself weighs 680 grams and is thrown at a box set at a 45° angle, at a distance of 18 meters. In the center of the box, which is filled with clay, are four triangular pouches packed with gunpowder. The aim is to hit the ring in the center with the tejo; igniting the targets earns extra points. The lump of iron traces a beautiful bell-shaped curve as it flies through the air, hitting the targets with a loud crash. When the aim is spot on, a sharp crack rings out. The mystery of this practice derived from indigenous cultures lies less in its rules than in the devilishly accurate aim of the players. A poetic, frenetic activity, tejo is the best way to experience a popular, and slightly surreal, tradition of Bogotá.

6.

Ascending lines

The architecture is intoxicating in this vertiginous city, with its multiple viewpoints. It’s impossible not to walk around without looking up, your eyes drawn to the rooftops. The national palace, cathedral and steel towers soar skyward. A city of pink bricks, Bogotá is a conservatory of various shapes and forms. From the colonial houses and the English and Dutch neighborhoods to Art Deco, Bauhaus and Corbusian buildings, there is something for everyone. Prominent architect Rogelio Salmona (who died in 2007) filled the capital with brick buildings like the Faculty of Human Sciences, illuminated by ramps, outdoor lecture theaters and gardens. If there are different levels of pleasure, Bogotá takes you right to the top.

Facultad de Ciencias humanas

Carrera 45 #26-85.

7.

Ever green

Associated with the mystical symbolism of emeralds (the museum devoted to this stone is well worth visiting), Bogotá remains a green city, with numerous parks and lush vegetation. The mountains here are reminiscent of SwitzerlandAndean Alps, you might say. In this country where the Caribbean coast is a profusion of color, the capital is proudly traditional, with a touch of elegance and a hint of stuffinesstie and livery are de rigueur. You almost expect to find Colombians wearing loden. After all, the temperatures, always mid-season, are cooled by frequent rains. It’s like London, people say here, and they’ll remind you that Bogotá used to be “umbrella, coat and hot chocolate.” And it’s not such a bad thing; the air is not stifling and muggy, but caressing, like an Alpine breeze.

8.

Flavors at their peak

When he was young, Andrés set out two or three tables by the side of the road in Chía, a town just north of Bogotá. Today, he serves 3,000 meals. The restaurant has continued to develop, expand and prosper, its madcap decor worthy of a vast bric-a-brac store. Riotous clutter is the order of the day here. Thousands of objects are suspended from the ceilinghearts, birds, photos, tools and what have youas aromas of excellent traditional Colombian cuisine rise from the plates. This is one spot you shouldn’t miss. There’s an outpost in the Zona Rosa, but Chía is the place to eat. Evenings are festive, with clowns and musicians for the children. In short, dining here is entertainingand a culinary high point.

Andrés Carne de Res

Calle 3 #11a-56, Chía. Tél. +57 1 861 2233.

www.andrescarnederes.com

9.

Down to heaven

For those wanting to venture higher still, there is another hallowed route, which takes you some 20 kilometers outside town to the strange Catedral de Sal in Zipaquirá. This underground church built inside a former salt mine plunges deep into a chasm, where the sulfur in the air creates a whiff of dark mystery. Here Bogotá takes on its full mystical dimension, and you sense that, from the heights of its Andean peaks to the depths of its mineral veins, an aspiration is stirring, that of a capital on the rise and in full bloom. Bogotá holds the earth and the sky in its embrace.

Catedral de Sal Zipaquirá

10.

On the mountaintop

There is no escaping Monserrate Sanctuary. Whether you go on foot (which requires strong lungs at these altitudes) or by cable car, the goal is the same: to gaze at the city from this exceptional vantage point. A place of pilgrimage, the Monserrate basilica is of little interest architecturallyit’s just part of the decor, a way of giving a leg up to visitors who want to take the full measure of this exuberant city.

Cerro de monserrate

Four Seasons Hotel  Casa Medina Bogotá

Not far from the Colombian capital’s business district, the Casa Medina offers classic comforts worthy of a lord’s manor. This luxury dwelling, built in 1946, is decorated with furnishings salvaged from two nearby convents that were demolished. The pillars in the hall, rugs, hangings, paintings, furniture and hand-carved wooden doors, different in each room or suite, create the look and feel of a Hispanic mansion. The Spanish restaurant and a cocktail bar that whips up sangria make this a chic spot near the Séptima, the city’s main thoroughfare. And if you need more persuading, the hotel happens to be smack in the middle of Zona GG for gastronomywhere the streets are lined with restaurants.

Four Seasons Hotel Casa Medina Bogotá

Carrera 7 #69a-22. Tél. +57 1 325 7900.

www.fourseasons.com/bogotacm

Four Seasons Hotel Bogotá

The Bogotá Four Seasons is located in the Zona Rosa, the city’s nocturnal hot spot. The hotel is an ultra-comfortable retreat. The rooms, bed linen, bathrooms, emerald green spa and fitness club are flawless. But it’s the outstanding and reasonably priced Japanese restaurant, the Kuru (“cool,” in Japanese) that is the real stand-out featurealong with the excellent cocktail bar. The baristas, masters of their art, concoct drinks that are as eye-popping as they are taste-busting (the ultimate being the cinnamon sticks set alight so that their smoke swirls around the glass like the fog around the Monserrate shrine). What’s more, the hotel is decorated with some beautifully crafted works by contemporary Colombian artists.

Four Seasons Hotel Bogotá

13 #85-46, Tél. +57 1 325 7930.

www.fourseasons.com/bogota

Alcohol abuse is harmful to your health. Drink in moderation.

Carnet d’adresses

Museo del Oro

Carrera 6 #15-88. Tél. +57 1 343 2222.

Museo Botero

Calle 11 #41. Tél. +57 1 343 1316.

Museo de Arte del Banco de la República

Calle 11 #4-21. Tél. +57 1 343 1316.

Museo Nacional de Colombia

Carrera 7a #28-66. Tél. +57 1 381 6470.

www.museonacional.gov.co

Plaza de mercado 7 de Agosto

Facultad de Ciencias humanas

Carrera 45 #26-85.

Andrés Carne de Res

Calle 3 #11a-56, Chía. Tél. +57 1 861 2233.

www.andrescarnederes.com

Catedral de Sal Zipaquirá

Cerro de monserrate

Four Seasons Hotel Casa Medina Bogotá

Carrera 7 #69a-22. Tél. +57 1 325 7900.

www.fourseasons.com/bogotacm

Four Seasons Hotel Bogotá

13 #85-46, Tél. +57 1 325 7930.

www.fourseasons.com/bogota

Cafés

Pastelería Florida

At once pastry shop, café and a club for intellectuals, this establishment is an institution in Bogotá. Its specialties include tamales , chocolate and beautiful cakes. It’s located on the pedestrian street in the center.

Café Ibáñez

Popular with jurists, this small café set over a law bookshop has a charmingly old-fashioned air, with its solemn gallery of figures of the law. Calle 12b #7-12. Tél. +57 1 284 7524

Arte y Pasión

Café A former gun club, this old building in the center is home to a barista school. You’ll find all of Colombia’s coffees and all sorts of designs in the cappuccino froth. A pleasure for the eyes and for the taste buds. Calle 16 #7-76. Tél. +57 1 341 6564.

www.arteypasioncafe.com

Café de la Fonda

This discreet spot, very near the Centro de Memoria Paz y Reconciliación (not to be missed), serves delicious coffee with exquisite cakes. Calle 24 #19-96. Tél. +57 1 268 4147.

www.cafedelafonda.com

Marchés

Plaza de mercado 7 de Agosto

Famous for its fresh produce from the countryside, this covered market is crammed full of vegetables, grains, bars and corn tortillas Calle 66 #23-30.

www.plazasdemercado.com/plaza-de-mercado-7-de-agosto

Artesanías de Colombia

A gift shop selling lovely handmade items. Prices a little high, but quality is impeccable. Hats, jewelry, hammocks, bags, ponchos, furniture, tablewareand color everywhere you look. Calle 86a #13a-10. Tél. +57 1 691 7149.

www.artesaniasdecolombia.com.co

Cut Club

A go-to hipster barbershop in the middle of the Zona Rosa. Tattoos on every arm and nonstop haircuts. Calle 83 #14a-09. Tél. +57 1 480 4405.

Mercado de las Pulgas de Usaquén

This trendy neighborhood in the north comes to life every Sunday. In among the stalls selling bags or guava jam are organic restaurants and cafés fragrant with coffee that offer welcome breaks. Lively, local and cool. Carrera 6 #119-120. Tél. +57 1 491 1004.

Overview
Overview
Address Book
Vidéo

243

Going There

www.airfrance.com

Flight frequency

Air France has 7 weekly flights to Bogotá from Paris-CDG.

KLM has 3 weekly flights to Bogotá from Amsterdam.

Arrival Airport

Aéroport international El Dorado.
À 13 km de Bogota. Tél. +57 1 266 2000.
Tél. +57 1 266 2000.

Plannig you trip

The Maison des Amériques Latines offers numerous trips in South and Central America. Their tour of Colombia lasts 11 days and 9 nights and takes in San Agustín, Cartagena and, above all, Bogotá.

www.maisondesameriqueslatines.com

Air France KLM Offices

Aux aéroports.

Bookings

— Depuis la France : tél. 3654.
— Depuis l’étranger :
Tél. +33 (0)892 70 26 54.

Car rental

Hertz, à l'aéroport.

www.airfrance.com/cars

Further reading

Colombie
Lonely Planet.

Colombie Michelin
coll. Guide vert.

Colombie
National Geographic.

© Parko Polo / Central Illustration Agency. Map for illustration purpose only.