The Café le Rendez-vous des Sportifs is not so much a café as a pub, and it’s my local pub in Tunis. Unlike many of the rival working-men’s pubs that proliferate in central Tunis, it actually looks like a pub inside, rather than like a bare, tiled cell that probably gets hosed down at the end of each business day.
Efforts have been made to decorate its interior. Among the artefacts on its walls are some glass cases containing what look like old, vinyl, Arabic-language pop records; a pair of boxing gloves; a bugle; a collection of antique barometers, some of which are quite ornate; several 1950s-era painted advertisements for Coca Cola; a big, framed monochrome photograph showing four musicians riding shakily along on bicycles with their instruments strapped onto their backs (including a cello and a huge kettledrum); and a selection of small, framed photographs showing the likes of Miles Davis, Edith Piaf and Billie Holiday – I know, piss-heads and smack-heads, all of them.
However, the clientele is resolutely that of your average Tunis dive: noisy, chain-smoking, sometimes drunk and cranky men. At one time it was so crowded in the early evenings that it was often a struggle to get past the entrance door, although recently the punters seem to have thinned out – due, perhaps, to the price of its beer going up by a third. However, considering that a bottle of Celtia cost 1.8 dinar when I started frequenting it, even with an extra 0.6 dinar added on, it’s one of the city’s more economical places to imbibe in.
The only time I have seen trouble brewing in this pub was one evening when a group of drunken deaf-mutes looked ready to break furniture and beat people up. Yes, deaf-mutes threatening to go on the rampage – that was weird.
On the sign outside, meanwhile, even the ‘o’ in ‘Rendez-vous’ looks a bit drunk.