Reunion Island

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May 4th 2016
Published: May 5th 2016
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REUNION - 15th April

The volcanic island of Reunion is about 115 miles southwest of Mauritius, it is an overseas department of France and most people live in the capital St Denis.

Reunion has been A French department since 1946, the island is not without it's problems - very high unemployment rate, the occasional volcanic eruption and severe batterings from passing cyclones.

Tourism is growing in importance although most visitors are from France.

The cruise terminal is fairly new and St Denis is about 9'miles from Le Port where the ship berthed.

They are building a new motorway and bridges from the port to St Denis - in the sea because of the falling cliffs. This is being financed by the EU and ultimately by us (at present).

St Denis is the largest of the French colonies and was named after the ship St Denis ran aground in the nearby bay.

We coached into St Denis to visit and a walk round.

Our first stop was the State Garden with the former palace of the General Consul, it is now the Natural History Museum with a whole floor taken up with a shark exhibition. Lots of schoolchildren visiting. The gardens were pleasant with palms and flowers local to the area.The architecture is mainly Creole style particularly in the Rue de Paris.

There was a strike on and roads and streets were being blocked off as we walked to the market.

Only the French know to strike like this, at times it was chaos on the streets with all the whistles and car horns.

The market was a haven of peace and quiet. It offered typical Creole products with handicrafts, scents and spices from Madagascar and Reunion.

A short bus ride took us round to the Buddhist Pagoda (closed) and the Temple Tamoul and on the way back to the Grand Mosque.

From a viewpoint we looked down on the Cathedral completed in 1832. With all these religious buildings you can understand the variety of races and cultures that mix harmoniously and are united by the musical Creole language.

Our final stop was at The Prefecture, formerly the headquarters of the French East India Company and the governors residence. There is a statue of Mahe de Labourdonnais (a former governor) at the front of the building.

Thankfully the strikes did not affect the route back to Le Port, they obviously had better things to do in the afternoon.

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