If your livelihood is fishing, why bother to live on the shore? It's a lot easier to build your settlement out in the lake. This seems to be the logic a number of fishing communities have follow around Lac Nokoué. As the lake is very shallow in many places, people have simply built their houses, markets and shops on stilts mid-lake. African versions of Venice, where dug-out canoes have replaced the gondolas. The biggest village, Ganvié, is home to no less than 30.000 persons. It's also the closest of the villages to Cotonou and a favourite excursion for both locals, expats and tourists. As a result, don't expect a warm welcome once you arrive at the village, where the villagers most of all seem annoyed that their everyday life is enclosed upon. For a friendlier welcome opt for the smaller communities further afield.