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If you spend any amount of time in Africa there is one addiction that you will quickly pick up and then struggle to shift. It’s not a craving for Amarula or Pinotage, not even dependence on obscure steaks – what I’m talking about is an unhealthy obsession with buying wooden animals. Our house is full of the things – picked up from Portugal, St Lucia, Kruger – we seem to find them everywhere we go. And with this obsession comes a lust for the hand-carved and authentic. There’s no room for store bought factory made models in our little wooden army.
With this is mind you can imagine how happy we were to find Francis’ Souvenirs on Praslin. You won’t find this place in any guidebook or internet site, in fact this may be the first ever mention of it outside local word of mouth. It’s hardly a surprise, this is an easy place to miss and not really set up as a shop in the traditional sense! You’ll find it on the main road between the Raffles Resort and Anse Lazio Beach. There is a map below or one you can zoom in on over on my main Seychelles page.
You will find no shop front here just a set of shelving set out in the front garden of Francis’ house. There are no prices on any of the products but we found a price list floating around on a piece of paper. The best way is to wander up to the house where you’ll usually Francis either whittling away on his next creation in his open air workshop.
It’s amazing to see the yet to be finished creations in the workshops. It makes you appreciate the time and effort that goes into carving and staining each individual animal.
The choice on offer is fantastic. Sharks, manta rays, tortoises and even a giant lobster had all been skilfully crafted. Francis cane out and joined us for a chat filling us in on his unique for on the world. He used to be a sailor and has been all over the world before settling on Seychelles. An interesting character with many a story to tell!
If you are looking for a great place to pick up some gifts whilst on the island then I’d recommend a trip to see Francis. If travelling is about having great stories to tell then you are never going to find a gift with a better story than a hand carved figure whittled by the hands of an old sailor!