Antananarivo is Madagascar's hillside capital. Looking across the highland plains, the city reaches a summit of 2,643 metres - so you'll keep fit exploring it. You might be tempted to hail one of the white 2CV and Renault 5 taxis one in a while, the most obvious hangover from the days of French rule.
Antananarivo was founded by King Andrianjaka in the early 17th century and has expanded steadily since. The city's Tsimbazaza Zoo and botanical gardens are home to a skeleton of the extinct elephant bird - the world's largest ever bird, which roamed Madagascar until the 17th century - and the Rova Antananarivo, the grand residency of former rulers. The capital marks the start of most Madagascan holidays, and it's well worth taking a few days to explore the city before continuing your travels.