Published: March 3rd 2011February 26th 2011
Climing Montagne des Signaux
From the top one has great views of Port Louis.
Mauritius is the biggest of the Mascarene Isles, Reunion and Rodrigues being the other ones.
Although first discovered by the Portuguese, the Dutch were first to settle there. It became however French territory before becoming a British possession. As a consequence we have today a very unique and rather complex linguistic situation. I think Belgium could take some lessons here. The official language is English, it is mainly used for administrative purposes. French is mainly used for business while creole is really the 'local' language. As 70% of the population is from Indian origin, Indian languages are also spoken and so is Chinese by the 3% Chinese minority. We could speak English or French with any person we met, whatever his/her ethnic background, what a dream...
Most of the places have French names such as 'Grande Baie', 'Cap Malheureux', 'Pamplemousses', 'Baie du Tombeau', 'Trou aux Biches' etc...
Our visit there had nothing to do with lavish beach resorts, in fact ... much better. We were visiting my brother and his family who are living there. So nothing to do with those walled resorts with guards at the entrance, which look more like prisons than holiday places.
We had a
great time, either staying at Johan and Petra's nice house or visiting the island.
The capital, Port Louis is also Mauritius' main harbour and a very active city. The sea front called "le Caudan" is a prime area with offices, shops and restaurants. There is also a colourful traditional market and a china town quarter. One of the main items sold to tourists is vanilla. It is difficult to get away without buying any if ever you show just a bit of curiosity. We came home with so much vanilla that we are now considering starting our own business!
We also very much enjoyed visiting the beautiful botanical gardens of Pamplemousses. They are a must to be recommended.
The beaches are fantastic, but there is a but! A great part of the coastline is not accessible as resorts were built there and you don't have direct access if you don't stay in a resort. Another part is taken by "pieds dans l'eau", i.e. beach houses belonging to the better off on the island.
There are however a few very nice public beaches with plenty of parking spaces. Most people however drive onto the beach as close as
possible to the empty spots they find. You access the beach by walking (or driving) through a huge 'pre-beach' area shaded by trees. Locals stay and camp there for several days while enjoying the beach.
Most of the inner part of the island is covered with sugar cane, which is still a major part of the economy. To be honest we were less interested in sugar cane, what was more interesting is one the the offsprings of this industry: rum distilleries. The differences between "rhum agricole" and "rhum traditionel" are no secret for us anymore, hups...
The western part of the island is hilly and really beautiful, the Black River Gorges national Park is a must. The highest 'mountain' is 828 meters, nothing to do with the most 3,000 meters of the Reunion peaks.
I will leave you now to enjoy the pictures.
There are more photos below