Exploring French Ashdod.

Ashdod  (photo credit: MEITAL SHARABI)
(photo credit: MEITAL SHARABI)
When was the last time you visited Ashdod? Ashdod is a wonderful port city in southern Israel which has been a magnet for thousands of French tourists in recent years. Not many people know this, but Ashdod is Israel’s sixth largest city, and besides its flourishing port, the city boasts a number of fun attractions that attract visitors from all around the country.
I recommend beginning your day at a Café Lyon, a chain that’s become quite popular among locals and is a wonderful success story. The café began as a small patisserie that opened in Ashdod’s industrial zone. Four branches have already been established, one of which is located in nearby Yavne.
As is fitting, the café specializes in French-style pastries. Even when you’re sitting in the Café Lyon in the Big Fashion Mall, you feel like a little piece of France has been imported to Israel, both due to the tasty delicacies, as well as the pleasant atmosphere in the café. The café offers a full breakfast menu featuring dishes such as croissant with salmon and poached eggs.
Translated by Hannah Hochner.
Etgarim Lachish Park - is one of the most popular attractions for kids in the South. When it was built 15 years ago the park was quite small and modest, but it has grown exponentially over the years. Today there are 15 attractions, including a zipline, a climbing wall, a maze, rappelling, a toddler pool, moon bounces over water, paintball, and a petting zoo. There are activities for every age and plenty of shady areas for picnicking. The park is open from 10 to 5 daily all summer long (except for days closed for private events – check the website for details).
Prices: Children NIS 55; adults NIS 20 (there is a extra fee for the extreme tower). Shows daily at noon.
Segway - A wonderful way to experience the Ashdod coastline as well as the interesting parts of the city is on a Segway tour with Segs, during which you will cruise all over the city without having to take a single step. You can join a one-hour or two-hour tour beginning at Etgarim Lachish Park that follows along the Lachish River, then continues up to the lookout point from Givat Yona and returns along the Ashdod Promenade and Ashdod Yam Park. Riders will see a variety of birds stopping for a refreshing drink on the banks of the river and lots of beautiful scenery and sea views.
Price: One-hour tour: NIS 180; two-hour tour: NIS 240.
Details: (03) 955-0405.
Ashdod Museum of Art - If you’d like to integrate a little culture into your visit to Ashdod – especially if you’re a music lover – then I recommend visiting the Ashdod Museum of Art, which currently has a musical exposition on display. Created by curator Yuval Biton, the exhibition focuses on Middle Eastern music in Israel from the 1950s to the present and how it has become normative among the varieties of Israeli culture.
Ashdod Yam Park - Ashdod Yam Park on the Mediterranean shore is one of the city’s flagship attractions. Stretching out over some 20 hectares, the park boasts six entrances to a variety of free activities. There’s a 1.2-hectare lake in the center of the park with a colorful fountain similar to the singing Magic Fountain of Montjuïc in Barcelona.
Ashdod Yam Park is wheelchair accessible and open all week from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.
There are two restaurants on the Ashdod Promenade that are worth mentioning. The first offers dishes made with fresh produce served in a pita, ranging from NIS 23 to NIS 47.
Another great place is a Thai restaurant called Rong’an. It may seem plain, but don’t let looks fool you: the food is incredibly tasty.
Rong’an (which means rainbow in Thai) opened in 2015 to provide local Thai workers with a taste of home. Soon the general community began frequenting the establishment and they had to move to larger quarters. The restaurant does not have kashrut certification, but is closed on Shabbat.
Sur la Mer
If you want to truly experience a city, you really must stay overnight.
In recent years, a number of boutique hotels have sprouted up right next to the beach. One great option is Sur la mer, which is quite reasonably priced. It boasts 12 rooms, most of which have a lovely sea view, and the dining room is stocked 24/7 with goodies and drinks.
Price: NIS 650 for a couple in the middle of the week (including breakfast) and NIS 800 for a couple on the weekend (including breakfast).
Reservations: (08) 971-7222.