The quiet charm of Batroun
A perfect day trip from Byblos (or even Beirut) is Batroun, a town offering a millennial Phoenician sea seawall, Lebanon’s best lemonade, and a roaring nightlife.
It’s perfect for a day trip because it’s compact: three hours are plenty to digest it. The highlight is the seaside old town with an impressive 18th-century stone church above the fishing marina and a nicely restored residential quarter.
Here you can wander among stone homes with loaded citrus trees. Plaques painted in cursive point the way to the tourist attractions, like minor churches, the restaurant-lined corniche, and the remains of a 2000-year old stone wall that held back the sea.
Today this wall is just a few metres long and holds nothing. In front of it is a rock bed pitted by centuries of tides.
Batroun is famous for two things: its lemonade and its nightlife. You’ll find lemonade stands in just about every corner, but the most popular one – according to its maker – is at Le Garage, a snack bar and pool hall just beside the St. George Orthodox Church. It truly is a rarity of flavour, perfectly blending sour and sweet.
The couple who makes it, in the photo below, keep the recipe secret but say the lemons come from the south of Lebanon.
Batroun’s main commercial street is lined with nightclubs, known to Lebanese in distant cities. We didn’t sample them, so it’s up to the visitor to confirm or debunk their fame.
To get to Batorun:
Take any microbus on the Lebanese coastal highway. Ask for Batroun. You’ll be dropped off at the entrance to the town. Walk 10 minutes towards the sea and you’ll find everything easily.