it\u2019s late evening at Tunis\u2019s Sidi Bou Said TGM train stop. A group of teenage boys skip across the tracks to disapproving looks and head for the waiting room where a homeless person is asleep. It turns out they are looking for somewhere with an echo so one of them can sing. When the boy begins, the sleeper sharply suggests they go away.\r\nThe boys move to another waiting area where the sound of unaccompanied singing soon drifts along the platform. Tunisians heading home after a Saturday evening wait to board the service for La Marsa Plage, the last stop on the line. The train, when it comes, is a little scruffy.\r\nEuropean tourists are in short supply in Tunis three years after the twin terrorist\u00a0attacks on Sousse\u00a0and on\u00a0Tunis\u2019s Bardo museum, although they have begun returning to beach resorts such as Hammamet. With\u00a0Thomas Cook and other companies flying to Tunisia again\u00a0that trajectory will likely continue.\r\n\r\nIt is the first time I\u2019ve been back in the city since the revolution of 2011, and to a country that has fared far better than the others from the Arab spring. I am in Tunis because my wife has been working in the country with local political parties for the upcoming municipal elections, in which half the candidates will be women. For her, the weekend is the first opportunity to see the sights.\r\n\u00a0\r\nWe stay in La Marsa in the north-east, rather than the city centre with its chain hotels on Avenue Mohammed V and Avenue Bourguiba; the latter named for\u00a0Habib Bourguiba\u00a0who was the country\u2019s first post-independence leader. With its cafes, bookshops and art spaces that cluster around a waterfront corniche and beach, La Marsa is a good base, not least the\u00a0Dar El Marsa hotel\u00a0(doubles from \u00a3145 B&B) that overlooks the seafront. It is the country\u2019s old summer capital, and you could be forgiven for thinking you are in France, sometimes.\r\n\r\nThe bookshop windows have essays by Camus and graphic novels; the cafes such as\u00a0Le Gourmet\u00a0and the French bakery\u00a0Maison Kayser\u00a0do breakfast in the French style. The Tunisian bourgeois in the cafes speak French to one another.\r\n\u00a0\r\nOne advantage of staying in La Marsa is that it is a straightforward 25-minute walk to\u00a0Sidi Bou Said, one of the most popular tourist attractions. While organised tours can rattle round the sites of Tunis, sometimes in a day, it is better to linger.\u00a0Fl\u00e2neurs\u00a0at heart, on a Saturday afternoon Sidi Bou Said is where Tunisian weekenders come for cafe au lait and petit fours. Afterwards, they continue up the steep hill of Avenue 14 Janvier \u2013 one of many streets and squares named for the 2011 revolution that finally swept away Zine El Abidine Ben Ali \u2013 to the restaurants and cafes in the heart of Sidi Bou Said itself.\r\nAlthough it seems busy, in one of the shops the owner complains about the lack of European tourists adding that before the attacks in 2015 he would sell one of his carpets at least once a day, a common complaint on those reliant on tourism.\r\nHugely popular are the stalls selling\u00a0bambaloni\u00a0(also\u00a0bamablouni), sweet and deep fried doughnuts eaten with sugar or honey. The rooftop\u00a0Art Cafe, on several levels around a steep flight of stairs, is also worth visiting for its terrace and views across the city, which can be enjoyed while smoking a\u00a0narguilah.\r\nAt the other end of the spectrum is the restaurant and bar at the\u00a0Dar Zarrouk: an old Tunisian palace with sea views and a pretty tree-filled courtyard whose guests includes businessmen, diplomats and local politicians.\r\n\r\nThe food scene in Tunis is but one attraction, its antiquities are quite another. The site of ancient Carthage was once ruled by Hannibal, and the Punic city was destroyed by the Roman general Scipio in 149BC at the end of the third Punic war. Looking at the basements of the few remaining houses, its story \u2013 amid today\u2019s rivalries and proxy wars in the wider region \u2013 seems shockingly contemporary, a reminder that today\u2019s hawks are not much different from Cato the Elder, the Roman senator who ended each speech with the words: \u201cAnd Carthage must be destroyed.\u201d\r\n\u00a0\r\nWhile most of the ruins, including the Antonine baths date to the later Roman colony, a handful of areas of Punic Carthage remain, including the \u201cHannibal District\u201d. Though, it is at the baths that the lack of visitors first appears most obvious with perhaps two dozen foreign tourists wandering the large site.\r\n\r\nThe picture of life in both Punic and Roman Carthage is rounded out with a visit to the\u00a0Bardo Museum\u00a0(admission \u00a33.30), the scene of one of the two 2015 attacks. In the foyer, it now hosts a memorial to those killed. Itself a former palace \u2013 one of the most important museums in the region after the Egyptian Museum in Cairo \u2013 its white vaulted rooms are largely empty of people even on a Sunday, once one of its busiest days.\r\nLast and not least is\u00a0Tunis old Medina, a Unesco world heritage site dating to the period of the Almohads and the Hafsids when, between the 12th to the 16th century, Tunis was considered one of the most important and richest cities in the Islamic world. A warren of streets and lanes, it is a city within a city to rival Jerusalem\u2019s Old City, Marrakech or Tehran\u2019s Grand Bazaar, a place of historic palaces, mosques and religious schools punctuated with cafes and shops.\r\nArriving on a Friday night and leaving at lunchtime on Monday, Tunis is a city that leaves me anxious to go back for more.