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MAURITIUS 54 lonelyplanet.com PORT LOUIS •• History 55

MAURITIUS
CLIMATE & WHEN TO GO devastating it, meaning that the profes-

Mauritius Mauritius enjoys a typically tropical climate


with year-round heat, although the southeast
trade winds help it never to feel too muggy.
sional classes have traditionally lived outside
the city, particularly in the Central Plateau
towns of Rose Hill, Moka, Vacoas and Qua-
The summer months are from December to tre Bornes. This trend continues today, to
April, when it can nevertheless be extremely the extent that Port Louis (the final s is
humid, and the winter, such as it is, runs from usually silent, although many Mauritians
May to November, and is cooler and drier. pronounce it when speaking English) can
Mauritius is a fascinating, world-in-one-island slice of paradise, the very name of which The best months to visit Mauritius are May sometimes seem like a city without a mid-
conjures up images of tropical luxury and stupendous extravagance. While in many places to early December. January and February, the dle class, without a centre and a ghost town
famed for cobalt-blue seas, white sandy beaches and luxury hotels you may eventually find peak cyclone months, are best avoided by after dark.
yourself wishing for something other than sunbathing and swimming to do, in Mauritius water-sports enthusiasts and divers. Cyclones This impression is totally false, however –
rarely hit Mauritius (although Rodrigues has Port Louis has plenty going for it, but it’s a
it’s often hard to know what to do next, so full is it of historic sights, cultural diversity, geo- suffered far more regularly than the main- city that profits from exploration: those who
graphic variation and almost limitless activities to distract you from the daily grind of beach land) but cyclones way out at sea can bring only visit the fantastically Disneyesque Cau-
and pool. Despite all this, perhaps the island’s single biggest asset is the relaxed charm of days of squally rain. dan Waterfront will get a very bland impres-
its warm and welcoming people. Coastal temperatures range between 25°C sion of the national capital. The bustle and
and 33°C in summer and between 18°C and chaos of the streets, the city’s famous market,
Mauritius is the most developed of the Mascarene Islands, but with a bit of effort and 24°C in winter. On the plateau it will be Chinatown, the collection of museums and
resourcefulness you can escape the crowds and find your own patch of this most diverse some 5°C cooler. The highlands are also the some wonderfully preserved colonial build-
wettest part of the island – it can rain here ings make Port Louis far more than a place
of destinations. The smells, noises and bustle of the mercantile capital Port Louis, Africa’s
at any time of year, and even when it’s not to come for some pricey shopping away from
wealthiest city, are never far away, while the busy garment markets in the Central Plateau raining the area can be cloaked in low-lying the beach.
towns of Quatre Bornes and Curepipe and the dramatic virgin forests of the Black River cloud.
Gorges National Park give the lie to Mauritius being just another beach destination. But what When the winds are at their strongest in HISTORY
beaches though – from the stunning sand-rimmed lagoons and popular wide public beaches July and August it can be blustery on the Port Louis was first settled in the 17th century
east coast, though the breeze brings welcome by the Dutch, who called it Noordt Wester
to the picturesque islands off the country’s coastline, there’s truly something for everyone relief in summer. Haven. It was the French governor Bertrand
here. Add to this the joys of Chinese, Indian, French and African cuisine, the rousing beat Apart from the Christmas-New Year peak, François Mahé de Labourdonnais, however,
of séga music and the infectious party spirit of the locals, and you soon understand why Mauritius doesn’t really have high and low who took the initiative and developed it into
Mauritius really is so many people’s idea of paradise on earth. seasons. The situation is more dependent on a busy capital and port after 1736. Labour-
outside factors (such as the French school donnais is commemorated with a much-
holidays, which cause a big increase in de- photographed statue at the seaward end of
mand and prices in August). Place S Bissoondoyal (formerly Place d’Armes),
the square that marks the city centre.
HIGHLIGHTS Few cities have bounced back from as
„ Getting off the beaten path in charming,
SEYCHELLES
PORT LOUIS many natural disasters as Port Louis, or
Port Napoleon as it was known briefly in
undeveloped south Mauritius (p111)
pop 172,000 the early 19th century before the British
„ Diving at the Rempart Serpent and La
INDIAN
With its spectacular setting beneath the im- took the island. Between 1773 and 1892 a
Cathédrale off the gorgeous beaches of
pressive mountain peaks of Le Pouce and series of fires, plagues and tropical storms
Flic en Flac (p103)
OCEAN Pieter Both, Port Louis makes an impression all tried, and failed, to level the town. In
„ Discovering a totally different side to Mau- on anyone arriving on the main road from 1819 cholera arrived from Manila on the
ritius on the beautiful island of Rodrigues the airport – descending from the Central frigate Topaz, killing an estimated 700 Port
(p122) Plateau into the hectic city centre with the Louis residents. Things quietened down until
„ Exploring the chaotic back streets of the Indian Ocean spread out in a perspective- 1866, when malaria suddenly appeared on
multicultural capital Port Louis (opposite) defying frieze above the city is a wonderful the scene, causing a further 3700 fatalities.
MAURITIUS experience. Around this time people started heading for
„ Walking in the lush, dramatic landscapes
Despite being the national capital, the the cooler (and healthier) Central Plateau, so
of the Black River Gorges National Park
main economic hub and the biggest city in the town’s population was mercifully small
(p87) RÉUNION
the country, Port Louis occupies a rather when the 1892 cyclone whipped through,
strange place in the psyche of modern Mau- and destroyed 3000 homes.
ritius. Its low-lying position has historically The 20th century has seen Port Louis
„ TELEPHONE CODE: 230 „ POPULATION: 1.25 MILLION „ AREA: 2040 SQ KM
made it an undesirable locale, with disease become one of Africa’s most important
in the 18th and 19th centuries frequently financial centres and ports – to which the
MAURITIUS 56 PORT LOUIS •• Orientation lonelyplanet.com lonelyplanet.com PORT LOUIS •• Sights & Activities 57

MAURITIUS
ever-growing number of high-rise glass- Zenith Internet Café (Astrolabe, Port Louis Waterfront; Fort Adelaide, are slightly further out, the dis- The pride of the museum’s collection is
fronted banks in the city centre attest. h10am-8pm Mon-Thu, 10am-10pm Fri & Sat, 10am-4pm tances are small and you can easily hop around two of the world’s rarest stamps: the red
Sun) The best in town, with plug-in for laptops possible. the shops, museums and the market in a day. one-penny and blue two-pence ‘Post Office’
ORIENTATION stamps issued in 1847 (see the boxed text,
Port Louis is divided by Mauritius’ only Medical Services Central Market below). To preserve the colours, they are only
motorway, which runs just by the harbour Dr Jeetoo Hospital (%212 3201; Volcy Pougnet St) Port Louis’ rightly famous Central Market lit up for 10 minutes at a time: every hour,
area and the development of the Caudan Provides 24-hour medical and dental treatment and has a (h5.30am-5.30pm Mon-Sat, 5.30am-11.30pm Sun), the on the half-hour. They were purchased by a
Waterfront. On the Caudan side there’s the 24-hour pharmacy. Staff speak English and French. centre of the local economy since Victorian group of Mauritian companies as a national
sanitised city with smart shops and bars but Medical Trading Pharmacy (%294 0440; Chausée times, was cleaned up considerably in a 2004 treasure and are probably the most valuable
with little atmosphere, while the vast ma- St) One of the best pharmacies in the city, just by Company renovation. Many comment that it’s lost much objects on the entire island!
jority of the city is on the other side of the Gardens. of its dirty charm and atmosphere (you’re On the ground floor you’ll see the coun-
road – dirty, colourful, chaotic and much far less likely to see rats, although it’s still try’s most famous work of art: a superbly life-
more fun. Money quite possible!), but it’s still a good place to like statue by the Mauritian sculptor Prosper
The centre of the city is hard to pin down You’ll find ATMs throughout Port Louis, get a feel for the everyday life of many locals, d’Épinay, carved in 1884. Based on Bernardin
exactly – the natural centre is Place S Bissoon- while all the main banks are concentrated watch the hawkers at work and buy some de St-Pierre’s novel Paul et Virginie (see the
doyal, a picturesque palm-lined avenue that around Sir William Newton St. Standard souvenirs. Most authentic are the wonderful boxed text, p83), it shows the young hero car-
runs from the harbour to Government House. banking hours are 9am to 3.15pm Monday to fruit and vegetable sections (including herbal rying his sweetheart across a raging torrent.
From here nearly all the sites of interest are Thursday, 9am to 3.30pm Friday. Some banks medicines and aphrodisiacs) and the meat,
within easy walking distance. The main banks are open on Saturday mornings, while those at fish and seafood market. Natural History Museum
have their offices around this square or along the airport are open whenever flights arrive. If you’re looking for souvenirs, a wide va- There’s only one real attraction at this small
nearby Sir William Newton St, while Royal St, Barclays (%207 1800; Sir William Newton St) riety of Malagasy handicrafts are available, but proud museum (%212 0639; Chaussée St; admission
which runs northeast through Chinatown, is HSBC (%203 8333; Pl S Bissoondoyal) along with souvenir T-shirts of varying qual- free; h9am-4pm Mon, Tue, Thu & Fri, 9am-noon Sat) and
also of interest to travellers. Mauritius Commercial Bank (MCB; %202 5000; ity. The level of hustling here can be tiresome, that’s to see the famous – though somewhat
Port Louis’ two main bus stations are lo- 9-15 Sir William Newton St) however, and you’ll have to bargain hard; start grubby – reconstruction of a dodo. Scottish
cated either side of the city centre, each a State Bank of Mauritius (%202 1111; State Bank by slashing the price quoted by about 30%. scientists assembled the curious-looking bird
few minutes’ walk from Place S Bissoondoyal. Tower, Pl S Bissoondoyal) in the late 19th century, using the only com-
Arriving from the airport, you’ll be dropped Blue Penny Museum plete dodo skeleton in existence (see p78).
at the more southerly Victoria Square Post Whether or not you fully understand the The rest of the museum’s three halls get marks
bus station. Central post office (%208 2851; Place du Quai; philatelic obsession with the Mauritian one for trying, but the majority of the other exhi-
h8.15am-4pm Mon-Fri, 8.15-11.45am Sat) The last 45 penny and two-pence stamps of 1847, the bits are a sad testimony to the fact that fish
INFORMATION minutes before closing are for stamp sales only. Blue Penny Museum (%210 8176; www.bluepenny don’t readily lend themselves to the process of
Bookshops museum.com; Caudan Waterfront; adult/child/family Rs taxidermy. Look out, however, for the stuffed
Bookcourt (%211 9262; Caudan Waterfront) The Tourist Information 150/80/350; h10am-5pm Mon-Sat) is far more wide birds, including the solitaire and red rail, both
country’s best bookshop sells a broad range of English and Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority (MTPA; ranging than its name suggests, taking in also now extinct.
French books, including guidebooks. %210 1545; www.mauritius.net; Air Mauritius Centre, the history of the island’s exploration, set-
Editions de L’Ocean Indien (%211 1310; Jules President John Kennedy St; h9am-4pm Mon-Fri, 9am- tlement and colonial period. It’s Port Louis’ Chinatown
Koenig St) A good selection of titles about Mauritius. noon Sat) Distributes maps of Port Louis and Mauritius and best museum, well lit and designed, with a The Chinese have traditionally occupied a
Librairie Allot Ltd (%212 7132; 1st fl, Happy World can advise on car hire, excursions and hotels throughout fantastic selection of maps, photographs and quietly industrious position in the life of Port
House, Sir William Newton St) Usually stocks the IGN map the country. engravings from different periods in history, Louis. The region between the two ‘friendship
of Mauritius and a good selection of literature. as well as a gallery for temporary exhibitions gates’ on Royal St forms the centre of Port
Librairie du Trèfle (%212 1106; 5 Royal St) An DANGERS & ANNOYANCES and a good shop. Louis’ Chinatown. Here you’ll see the rich
atmospheric place catering for the local market. Port Louis is a city with a big underclass and
as such is not safe at night. After dark all
Emergency travellers should stick to well-lit main streets STAMP OF APPROVAL
Ambulance (%114) and avoid Company Gardens, favoured hang Philatelists (stamp collectors to the rest of us) go weak at the knees at the mention of the
Fire services (%995) out of pimps and drug dealers. If you don’t Mauritian ‘Post Office’ one-penny and two-pence stamps. Issued in 1847, these stamps were
Police (%emergency 999, headquarters 203 1212; Line know your exact route, take a taxi. During incorrectly printed with the words ‘Post Office’ rather than ‘Post Paid’. They were recalled upon
Barracks, Lord Kitchener St) the daytime it’s a very safe city but beware of discovery of the error, but not before the wife of the British governor had mailed out a few dozen
pickpockets anywhere, although particularly on invitations to one of her famous balls!
Internet Access in the market and around the bus stations. These stamps now rank among the most valuable in the world. The ‘Bordeaux cover’, a letter
Cyber Café (%210 6978; Dumat St; h9am-4pm Mon-Fri) bearing both stamps which was mailed to France, was last sold for a staggering US$3.8 million.
A small place near the Victoria Sq bus station. SIGHTS & ACTIVITIES In 1993 a consortium of Mauritian companies paid US$2.2 million for the pair of unused one-
Smart Net Café (%210 2177; Ramphul Bldg, Chausée Most of Port Louis’ sights are scattered around penny and two-pence stamps now on display in Port Louis’ Blue Penny Museum (above). This is
St; h9am-4pm Mon-Fri, 9am-noon Sat) Small but the waterfront and southeast along Poudrière the only place in the world where the two can be seen together on public view.
centrally located. St and Intendance St. Although some, such as
MAURITIUS 58 PORT LOUIS •• Por t Louis lonelyplanet.com lonelyplanet.com PORT LOUIS •• Sights & Activities 59

MAURITIUS
PORT LOUIS 0
0
400 m
0.2 miles
mercantile life of the hard-working Chinese
community, the busy Chinese restaurants

ὈὈὈὈὈὈ
A B C D E F and groceries and the streets echoing with
INFORMATION Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority Chapel & Shrine of Marie Reine de la SLEEPING the unmistakable clatter of mah jong tiles.
Australian High Commission...............1 B4 (MTPA)........................................15 B4 Paix..............................................28 A6 Bourbon Tourist Hotel....................45 D3
Barclays Bank.....................................2 C3 MCB................................................16 C4 Chinatown.......................................29 D3 Hotel Le Grand Carnot...................46 D3
1 Bookcourt......................................(see 68)
British High Commission.....................3 C5
Medical Trading Pharmacy...............17 B4
Passport & Immigration Office.........18 D5
City Hall...........................................30
Company Gardens...........................31
C4
C4
Labourdonnais Waterfront Hotel....47
Le St Georges Hotel........................48
A3
B5
1 Place S Bissoondoyal
Canadian Embassy............................. 4 D5 Police Headquarters.........................19 A4 Fort Adelaide....................................32 E4 Le Suffren Hotel & Marina.............49 A3 Port Louis’ most imposing boulevard is
Cellplus..............................................5 B4 Registrar of Civil Status....................20 C4 Government House..........................33 C4 Tandoori Hotel...............................50 A4 named after Sookdeo Bissoondoyal, a senior

ὈὈὈὈ
Central Post Office.............................6 B3 Seychelles Consulate........................21 C6 Jummah Mosque............................. 34 D3
Cyber Café.........................................7 B4 Smart Net Café.................................22 B4 King Edward VII Statue.....................35 E6 EATING Mauritian politician, independence leader
Dr Jeetoo Hospital..............................8 B6 State Bank of Mauritius....................23 B4 Mahé de Labourdonnais Statue........36 B3 Black Steer......................................51 B3
Editions de l'Ocean Indien..................9 C4 Swiss Consulate...............................24 C4 Malartic Tomb..................................37 F6 Bombay Sweets Mart.....................52 C4
and, eventually, opposition leader against
Emtel..............................................(see 70) US Embassy......................................(see 1) Mauritius Postal Museum.................38 C3 Dahl Puri Stall................................53 C4
CITE MARTIAL
Ramgoolam, who died in 1977. The road
French Embassy................................10 B5 Zenith Internet Café.......................(see 62) Municipal Theatre............................39 C4 Debonairs Pizza.............................. 54 C4
German Embassy............................. 11 C6 Natural History Museum..................40 C4 First Restaurant..............................55 C3
that bears his name is lined with royal palms
HSBC...............................................12 C4 SIGHTS & ACTIVITIES Photography Museum......................41 C4 La Bonne Marmite.........................56 C4 and leads up to Government House, a beautiful
Librairie Allot Ltd..............................13 C4 Blue Penny Museum........................25 A3 Place S Bissoondoyal........................42 C4 La Flore Mauricienne......................57 C4
Librairie du Trèfle.............................14 C4 Central Market.................................26 C3 St James Cathedral...........................
TROU 43 D5 La Rose des Vents........................(see 47) French colonial structure dating from 1738,

ὈὈ ὈὈὈὈ
2 Champ de Mars Racecourse.............27 E6 FANFARON
St Louis Cathedral............................ 44 D5 Le Calife.........................................58 C5 2 although it was added to later. Outside it
Le Capitaine...................................59 A3
To Coraline Shipping Agency (500m); L'Escale........................................(see 47) stands a typically solemn statue of Queen
Ferry Terminal (1km);
To Réunion (220km); Pamplemousses (11km);
Mystic Masala................................60 B3
Namaste.......................................(see 59)
Victoria in full ‘we are not amused’ mode,
Rodrigues (600km); Immigration To SSR Memorial
Madagascar (800km)
Grand Baie (25km)
Square Centre for Restaurant du Vieux Conseil..........61 C4 while the statue of Mahé de Labourdonnais at
Culture (100m);
Père Laval's
Tandoori Express............................62 B3
The Courtyard................................63 B5
the quayside end of the avenue is the best-

Se
72

Em
Shrine (2.5km)
loved in the city and has become its emblem

en
m
Winner's Supermarket....................64 B4

ee
an

va
ὈὈὈὈ ὈὈὈὈὈὈ
ue
throughout Mauritius.

Ri

ss
l
vi

en
An
DRINKING

èr
M2 t Ju
rS

St
qu
m

St
ha m Beer & Spice.................................(see 62)

et
38
qu ah

il
62 r M 34 Keg & Marlin................................(see 51)
Photography Museum

St
Fa
Pa

os Latitiude 20..................................(see 47)


qu
s

3 6 29 3
te

47 e This small but engaging museum (%211 1705;


ur

Co Chinatown 46 Sunset Café....................................65 A3


65
S

Port Louis
t

rd St
49 Waterfront er
ie 55 t St ENTERTAINMENT Old Council St; admission Rs 100; h10am-noon & 1-3.30pm
St en
25 59 26 ur Cinemaxx.....................................(see 51) Mon-Fri), down a lane opposite the Municipal

La
67 69 St
La Ar

Pa
St

d Keg & Marlin...............................(see 51)


e

60 45 ar se
Theatre, is the labour of love of local pho-

ix
en

t
m

36

ὈὈὈὈ
Si lS ou
na

St
om

LE
ue

68 51 rW
ya lS Municipal Theatre........................(see 39)
Ed
Q

66
H

CAUDAN St
illi Ro Dr
t Port Louis Casino...........................66 B3 tographer Tristan Bréville. He’s amassed a
L'

Caudan 2 am
Waterfront
Bi
ss Plac l am Star Cinema...................................67 A3
oo e 14 New 16 t oo treasure trove of old cameras and prints, in-
nd S rS g
To Avis (500m);
71 23 oy 42 to
n llie Ra
m
al O
ur
SHOPPING cluding several daguerreotypes (the forerun-
t

1 y St
yS

Domaine Les St g
56 Bo ém sa az Central Market.............................(see 26)
ed

Pailles (5km); 12 33 u R oo lN ner of photographs) produced in Mauritius


nn

Moka (10km) 52 rbo i Craft Market..................................68 A3


ew irg
Ke

n e
73 In 53 St rS V
St
MAST..........................................(see 68) in 1840, just a few months after the technique
hn

Victoria 15
te
nd Si Sir e Power Music................................(see 68)
Jo

4 Square Du 40 an in 32 4
ma7 ph was discovered in France. The museum also
es

70 17 ce 13
74
Pr

au

Ὀ ὈὈὈὈ
tS t
t 64 eS D TRANSPORT
50
u ssé 31
le
St 57 St
24
39
Air Austral......................................(see 1)
contains a vast archive of historical photos of
ha fil J
C
Ma
ll e 54 il ul
nc t es K 20 Air France......................................(see 1) the island, only a tiny fraction of which are
22 ou S oe Air Madagascar..............................69 B3
41 C Eu
on display.
Jem

Si ni

St

t

5 rC 30 g Air Mauritius..................................70 B4
sS

t d
rS Ol 61 ne

en
St
ene
ck
map

An
Po

19

ffr
h 9 M Air Seychelles.................................(see 1)
Kitc
rra

St

Su
te 44
ud

d on

Ink
Lor
Ba

lm British Airways..............................(see 69)


Jummah Mosque
au
es S

se
riè

e
re

ig

erm
re

rd St ne Emirates.........................................71 B4
Des

ev
t

ua
St

ur
Ch

Ch
The Jummah Mosque (Royal St; h8am-noon & 2-4pm

an
St

eq La Immigration Square Bus Station......72 C3


chart

ur ur
ey

63 n S

St
4 ch en Singapore Airlines...........................73 B4

ὈὈὈὈὈὈ
ffr

ow St tS Mon-Thu, Sat & Sun), the most important mosque


eo

Po
res S

Br t South African Airways (SAA)..........(see 1)


Ed

tG

3 pe G
on
ith

in Mauritius, was built in the 1850s, and is


sle

H in Victoria Square Bus Station............ 74 A4


t

18 en
Ca

Li

ne St
ve

5 St 5
ss a delightful blend of Indian, Creole and Is-
ll

Lo y
St

48 ui St
sS
10 St
Ge t lamic architecture – it would look equally
or 58
St ge at home in Istanbul, Delhi or New Orleans!
St

ans Dr sS
Orle
g

t
in

Ro
Visitors are welcome in the peaceful inner
ta

ug
St

Es

et
D'
D

43
courtyard except on Fridays and during the
en

St Fr

ὈὈὈὈ
èr
is

21 e
S t

Fe
St Vo
lix
de
Sh
ak month of Ramadan.
y es
m lcy 11 Va pe
e
el Po lo
is 27 ar
e
rth ug St Champ de Mars St
Company Gardens
Vi

Ba ne
sh

e tS Racecourse
èr
nu

M t It’s a real pity that Company Gardens has


Kc

8
h
et

6 6
Ra

St such a sleazy atmosphere as it’s by far the


ra
ou

s 35
St

ai
lR
M

n
most attractive park in the city, with its vast
iv
on

on
et

rd
se

St

ou
ig

St banyan trees, huge number of statues, quiet


ne

b
cy La
ur

28 ur
benches and fountains. During the day it’s
Le

Co To Le Pouce
en

e (4km) 37
D
Av

perfectly safe (though keep your wits about


e
ὈὈ ὈὈὈ
MAURITIUS 60 PORT LOUIS •• Walking Tour lonelyplanet.com Book accommodation online at lonelyplanet.com PORT LOUIS •• Sleeping 61

MAURITIUS
you), but you should avoid it at night when SSR Memorial Centre for Culture PORT LOUIS WALKING TOUR 0
0
400 m
0.2 miles
it’s a flash point for muggings, drug deals This simple house museum (%242 0053; Sir See-

ὈὈ ὈὈὈ
Astrolabe 17

Em nq
18

Pa
M2 St
and pimps. Once the vegetable patch of the woosagur Ramgoolam St; admission free; h9am-4pm Mon-

A
Bldg

m ue
s
ar

te

an til
Ju Chinatown

ur
uh

ue St
m
French East India Company in early colonial Fri, 9am-noon Sat) near the Jardin Plaine Verte was

S
rq m

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t
Mahé de Fa ah

Ri
St

vi
Labourdonnais M
times, it’s now best known for its statues home to Mauritius’ father of independence,

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19 os St

e
Statue

e
Caudan Ar

m
qu

St
St
am

om
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of local sculptor Prosper d’Épinay and the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, from 1935 Waterfront

en
Bi P l S or St na
ss lac go

H
ue
ya de lS

L'
oo e m

Q
o r ie t
much-loved musician Ti-Frère (see p44). until 1968. It’s an interesting exhibit on his nd S S R Bo t Ra
St rS

St
oy ir ur ur
W llie sag St

dy
al bo
life, with some fascinating photographs, a illi az

ne
n O
2 am y oo lN

ὈὈὈὈὈ
St

n
4 m w gi

Ke
Int N é e
Municipal Theatre collection of his personal belongings and en ew R
rS
e V i r St

n
e
da Sir 15

h
to Si in

Jo
nc n
eS ph
This appealing theatre on Jules Koenig St even films about the great man, beloved by St

es
1 5 t au

Pr
t D
eS 6 St
has changed little since it was built in 1822, all Mauritians. Ch
au
ssé
fil
le Ju
7
le
16
ll e sK

St
a
making it the oldest theatre in the Indian r St Si M 8

en
oe

Jem
ene rC ni 12

ffr
itch 10

St
Ocean region. Decorated in the style of the Fort Adelaide dK 9 g M

Su
An

map

au
Lor St on

St
St te

re
se

y
Old Council

Po

fre
l m

ev
rd ig
classic London theatres, it seats about 600 Fort Adelaide, also known as the Citadel, re-

es S

of
e C

ud
a St ne

Ch
11 hu

Ge
u St ur

riè
q r
Se

t
Po ch G
over three levels, and has an exquisitely sembles a Moorish fortress. Built by the Brit-

re
n pe St on

Ed

St
o w H in

ith
Br St
painted dome ceiling with cherubs and ish, the fort sits high on the crown of the hill, en

Ca
ne Eu

ve
ss gè
y
chandeliers. Photos of Margot Fonteyn, offering splendid views over the city and its

ll
St ne

St

St
La

g
in
who danced here in 1975, adorn the foyer. harbour. The quickest route up is via Suffren ur

St

ta
en

Es
De
tS

D'
nis
14
Performances are in the evenings – usually St. Allow around 10 minutes for the climb. 13 t

St
at 8pm. Unless you get lucky and someone
lets you glimpse inside, you’ll need to buy Champ de Mars Racecourse which provides a rare patch of green in the From the fort, drop back down to Mon-
tickets for a performance to visit. This racecourse was a military training ground city centre, with huge banyan trees and other seigneur Gonin St to see the grand, colon-
until the Mauritius Turf Club (%211 2147; www.mauri tropical delights (prostitutes and drug dealers naded archbishop’s residence (16), then head
Mauritius Postal Museum tiusturfclub.com) was founded in 1812, making notwithstanding). Head up Mallefille St and northwest along Corderie St, lined with cloth
This rather lacklustre two-room museum it the second-oldest racecourse in the world. turn right on Intendance St. Here you’ll see merchants, to Royal St. A right turn here
(%213 4812; Pl du Quai; admission free; h9am-3.45pm Mauritian independence was proclaimed the charming Municipal Theatre (7; opposite) brings you to the delightful Jummah Mosque
Mon-Fri, 9-11.30am Sat) beside the central post of- here in 1968. Within the racecourse stands a pretty perfectly preserved from British co- (17; p59) and then to the first of the ‘friend-
fice houses a mishmash of commemorative statue of King Edward VII by the sculptor Prosper lonial times. On the other side of the road, ship gates’ that marks the entrance to China-
stamps and other postal paraphernalia from d’Épinay, and the Malartic Tomb, an obelisk to stroll down Old Council St, a charming town (18; p57). When you’ve had your fill
around the world. These include copies of a French governor. cobbled lane leading gently uphill to one of exploring, head down Jummah Mosque
the famous ‘Post Office’ stamps of 1847 (see The racing season lasts from May to late of Port Louis’ most attractive corners. Here St to Farquhar St, turn left and you’ll soon
the boxed text, p57), though you can now November, with meetings usually held on a you’ll find a clutch of colonial buildings, one find yourself caught up in the pell-mell of the
see the originals in the Blue Penny Museum. Saturday. The biggest race of all is the Maiden of which contains the Photography Museum (8; Central Market (19; p57). Finally, take one of
There’s also a decent display of 19th-century Cup in September. If you’re here on a race day, p59) while the Restaurant du Vieux Conseil (9; the underpasses to the waterfront for some
and early-20th-century communication de- it’s well worth joining the throng of betting- p63) occupies the courtyard of another and well-earned refreshment.
vices. The museum shop sells replica first- crazy locals. Tickets for the stands cost Rs 150, makes a great place for lunch.
day covers of the famous stamps, which but admission to the rest of the ground is usu- Retracing your steps back to busy Jules SLEEPING
make unusual souvenirs. ally free. For dates of meetings, contact the Koenig St and turning right will take you There’s not a huge choice of accommoda-
Mauritius Turf Club or check the local press. past the modern and unprepossessing City tion in Port Louis – there are three business
Cathedrals & Churches Hall (10) and the more appealing Supreme Court hotels (two of which are very smart and part
Notable places of worship include the St WALKING TOUR (11), built in 1780, with its ornate gates and of the Caudan Waterfront complex), while
James Cathedral (Poudrière St) and St Louis Cathe- Begin your exploration on Victoria Sq (1), shady courtyard. A little further on, St Louis the rest cater to budget travellers and are all
dral (Sir William Newton St). Inaugurated in 1850, one of the capital’s main bus stations and a Cathedral (12; opposite) lies off to your left fairly mediocre.
St James has a peaceful, wood-panelled in- chaotic hub of activity from dawn till dusk. (visible across an open square). You’re now
terior with plaques commemorating local Watch the street hawkers, the food sellers on Pope Hennessy St, from where you could Budget
worthies. The more austere, but also busier, and busy locals out shopping as you wander take a short detour south along Labourdon- Hotel Le Grand Carnot (%240 3054; 17 Dr Edouard Lau-
St Louis Cathedral dates from 1932 and is down President John Kennedy St (2) and join nais St to St James Cathedral (13; opposite). rent St; s/d incl breakfast Rs 500/600) This is an atmos-
popular with the Chinese community. the city’s grandest colonial avenue, Place S A row of striking, colonial-era bungalows pheric, slightly noisy place for backpackers,
The modern chapel and shrine of Marie Reine Bissoondoyal (3; p59), then walk inland to- and a grey-stone secondary school, built in but the best of the budget gang. The rooms are
de la Paix (Monseigneur Leen Ave) is a popular spot wards Government House (4; p59), in front of 1893, mark the top end of Pope Hennessy rather makeshift but pleasant enough; some
for prayers, and the ornamental gardens which a decidedly imperious statue of Queen St. Beyond lies the Champs de Mars racecourse have big balconies overlooking the busy daily
offer views over the city. The most impor- Victoria still stands guard. Turn right along (14; opposite), though outside the race sea- clothes market outside.
tant place of pilgrimage for Mauritian Chris- Chaussée St to pay a quick visit to the dodo son there’s nothing in particular to see. Bet- Bourbon Tourist Hotel (%240 4407; fax 242 2087;
tians is the shrine of Père Laval on the city’s in the Natural History Museum (5; p57), then cut ter to save your energy for the climb to Fort 36 Jummah Mosque St; s/d/t incl breakfast Rs 770/880/1200;
northern outskirts (p66). up through lovely Company Gardens (6; p59), Adelaide (15; opposite) for expansive views. a) Slap-bang in the middle of Chinatown,
MAURITIUS 62 PORT LOUIS •• Eating Book accommodation online at lonelyplanet.com lonelyplanet.com PORT LOUIS •• Drinking 63

MAURITIUS
this idiosyncratic 16-room place feels more little Chinese options, while European cafés, MIDRANGE tions such as prawn stew and pan-fried
like a student hall of residence than a hotel. smart restaurants on the waterfront and end- La Bonne Marmite (%212 4406; 18 Sir William Newton red snapper.
The bathrooms are pretty horrible, although less snackbars give you plenty of choice. As the St; set menus Rs 150; hlunch only Mon-Fri; a) This Le Capitaine (%213 0038; Caudan Waterfront; mains
all rooms have air-con, TVs and phones. It’s middle classes tend to reside outside the city quaint establishment is one to savour away Rs 250-500; hlunch & dinner; a) Given its loca-
on the 1st floor (go through the tunnel from many places are only open for lunch. In the from the glitzy waterfront gang. Its unfussy tion and standards of service, this surprisingly
the street). evening and at weekends head to the water- menu of Creole, Indian and Chinese dishes reasonable restaurant specialises in seafood
Tandoori Hotel (%212 0031; Jemmapes St; s/d Rs front for any degree of choice. Another option is excellent value and the welcome is always and also offers classic French dishes such as
600/1200; a) While it’s extremely noisy during is to head out of town to Domaine Les Pailles friendly. duck confit. It’s in a great location with lots of
the day due to its location next to the main bus (p65) for a choice of expensive but excellent Black Steer (%211 9147; Caudan Waterfront; burgers tables on the terrace overlooking the harbour
station, it’s perfectly quiet at night here. The options. Rs 150-200, grills from Rs 250; hlunch & dinner; a) This and has a stylish interior décor.
rooms are comfortable, but there’s no natural popular steakhouse overlooks the harbour and The Courtyard (%210 0810; Chevreau St; mains
daylight in any of the rooms, which lends it Restaurants offers great steaks, mixed grills, combos and from Rs 400; hlunch Mon-Fri; a) Built around an
a depressing air. The price goes up by Rs 200 BUDGET the like. It’s now added a few dishes for non- eponymous courtyard, this newly opened Eu-
per person for air-con. Mystic Masala (Port Louis Waterfront; set menus Rs 60- carnivores, such as baked spuds and vegetable ropean-style restaurant also features a stylish,
110 hlunch & dinner) Tasty Indian snacks and curries, but its stock in trade are the excellent understated indoor dining space. The meaty
Midrange light meals are the order of the day at this hamburgers and rump steaks. menu includes Australian beef and fresh local
Le St Georges Hotel (%211 2581; www.blue-season harbourfront kiosk with its handful of trestle La Flore Mauricienne (%212 2200; 10 Intendance St; seafood dishes realised with flair. A good spot
-hotels.com; 19 St Georges St; s/d incl breakfast Rs 1500/1950; tables. Portions aren’t huge but a side order mains Rs 150-450; h7.30am-5pm Mon-Fri, 8.30am-1pm Sat; to impress.
ais) Towering above the surrounding of samosas or a dosa masala (pancake-like a) There’s something rather Parisian about La Rose des Vents (%202 4000; Labourdonnais
residential neighbourhood, Le St Georges is bread with a spicy potato filling) and a glass of the bustle and brusque service here, but then Waterfront Hotel, Caudan Waterfront; mains Rs 300-800;
excellent value for money. The rooms are fairly lassi (yoghurt drink) or alouda (sweet, milky this is a long-standing favourite lunchtime hlunch & dinner, closed Sat lunch & Sun; a) The La-
unexciting but they are clean and equipped drink) will round things off nicely. haunt of the local business and political elite bourdonnais Waterfront Hotel boasts this
with all the necessary comforts. There’s a Le Calife (%203 4561; Edith Cavell St; mains Rs 100; as well as tourists. The daily specials are al- upmarket seafood restaurant, famed for its
decent breakfast and a pool for relaxing by hlunch Mon-Fri) This attractive place is one of ways good value, and there’s a big selection lobster dishes.
as well as a pleasant bar and restaurant. The the best spots for lunch in town, teeming with of dishes including a good vegetarian choice.
location is also good, just a five-minute walk locals and full of atmosphere. The homemade Inside it’s a more formal setting, whereas the Quick Eats
from the centre of town. halal biryani is the speciality here, and most terrace is a great place to people-watch. Port Louis is a snackers’ paradise. The Central
Le Suffren Hotel & Marina (%202 4900; www.le who try come back for more. Other Creole Restaurant du Vieux Conseil (%211 0393; Old Market and bus stations provide happy hunt-
suffrenhotel.com; Caudan Waterfront; s/d Rs 3600/4600; and Indian specialties are also on the menu. Council St; mains Rs 200; hlunch Mon-Sat) Down a ing grounds, but you’ll find stalls all over town
nais) The newest addition to Port oFirst Restaurant (%212 0685; cnr Royal charming side street, this lunchtime institu- peddling samosas and gâteaux piments (deep-
Louis’ hotel scene, Le Suffren is the trendier, & Corderie Sts; mains from Rs 120; hlunch & dinner Tue- tion must have the most delightful location fried balls of lentils and chilli), sandwiches or
less stuffy sister hotel to the Labourdonnais, Sun) If the age-old rule that a good Chinese of any restaurant in Port Louis. The food is more substantial curries. To spot the best just
just a short complimentary boat ride away. restaurant is full of Chinese diners applies, nothing spectacular, and somewhat pricey, look for the queues from mid-morning on-
For better or for worse you feel like you’re al- then First is a winner. Packed with large fam- but there’s a good choice from crepes and wards. A perennial favourite is the dhal puris
most out of the city despite being just a couple ily groups enjoying vast feasts of delicious salads to octopus curry and smoked marlin, stall (cnr Sir William Newton & Rémy Ollier Sts). Nearby,
of minutes from the waterfront. The rooms Cantonese cooking, this is Chinatown’s finest and the charming setting is worth making a Bombay Sweets Mart (7 Rémy Ollier St) is famous for
are smaller than the Labourdonnais but the and prices are surprisingly reasonable for the diversion for. the Indian nibbles colourfully known as caca
place has a very pleasant, convivial feel with quality of the fare. Namaste (%211 6710; Caudan Waterfront; mains from pigeon (literally, ‘pigeon droppings’). It also
an excellent bar and restaurant. Debonairs Pizza (%210 9203; Intendance St; sandwiches Rs 200; hlunch & dinner, closed lunch Sun; a) One of sells other sweet and savoury snacks. If you’d
Labourdonnais Waterfront Hotel (%202 4000; from Rs 80, pizzas from Rs 180; hlunch & dinner) The pizza the best Indian restaurants in town, Namaste rather sit down to eat, head for Tandoori
www.labourdonnais.com; Caudan Waterfront; s/d incl breakfast at this fast-spreading South African chain is manages to be atmospheric despite its location Express or Mystic Masala (see opposite).
Rs 5200/6200; nais) Definitely the best in nothing special, but it’s a good place for a in the sanitised Caudan Waterfront. The spe-
town, the Labourdonnais is an ultra-smart quick, cheap lunch. There are tables inside, but cialities here are North Indian (and not huge Self-Catering
business hotel on the Caudan Waterfront. The takeaway and delivery are available (‘we deliver either), but it’s a classy place with excellent Self-caterers should head for the Central Mar-
rooms are excellent – even the standards are smartly’ is the restaurant’s slightly odd tagline), service. Book ahead to get a table on the bal- ket. There’s also the handy Winner’s Supermarket
huge. All are bathed in light, have cavernous as are a number of non-pizza options. cony outside as they’re always in demand. (Sir Célicourt Antelme St). Most restaurants, apart
bathrooms and most have excellent views of Tandoori Express (%210 9898; Astrolabe Bldg, Port from the expensive ones, do takeaway.
the city and harbour, particularly the so-called Louis Waterfront; mains Rs 75-200, set menus Rs 100-175; TOP END
‘turret rooms’ at each top corner. Facilities hlunch & dinner, closed Sun & dinner Mon) Popular L’Escale (%202 4000; Labourdonnais Waterfront Hotel, DRINKING
include a gym, pool and business centre. with local families day and night, this great Caudan Waterfront; mains from Rs 250; h6.30am-11pm; Port Louis is not exactly a happening place
canteen serves up delicious curries and thalis, a) The main restaurant of the Labourdon- at night and come sunset the city is virtu-
EATING superb naan bread and a range of other Indian nais Waterfront Hotel, this refined and el- ally silent as the commuters retire to the
Port Louis has a great eating scene where dishes to suit all tastes. Order and pay inside egant spot is one of the best in town. The Central Plateau towns. What evening life
the ethnic diversity of the city again comes and your food will be brought out to your broad menu includes an excellent vegetar- there is tends to be concentrated on the
up trumps. Chinatown is packed with good waterside table. ian selection, as well as superb local crea- Caudan Waterfront.
MAURITIUS 64 PORT LOUIS •• Enter tainment lonelyplanet.com lonelyplanet.com PORT LOUIS •• Getting Around 65

MAURITIUS
Keg & Marlin (%211 6821; Caudan Waterfront; Cinemaxx (%210 7416; Caudan Waterfront; tickets Air Seychelles (%202 6655; Rogers House, 5 President Expect to pay around Rs 700 to Rs 900 for a
hnoon-midnight Mon-Thu, to 3am Fri, to 1am Sat & Sun; Rs 100; a) The two-screen Cinemaxx usually John Kennedy St, Port Louis) taxi ride from Port Louis to the airport.
a) The location makes this a great place to shows one Hindi or Tamil film and one inter- British Airways (%202 8000; IBL House, Caudan
enjoy a sundowner while watching the world national release daily. Again, most films are Waterfront, Port Louis) Car
go by. While its outdoor seating is as Mau- dubbed in French, though occasionally you’ll Emirates (%213 9100; Harbour Front Bldg, Place d’Armes, Given the number of traffic snarls, it’s not
ritian as can be, inside it’s a garish imitation find one with English subtitles. Port Louis) worth trying to drive around Port Louis.
of an English pub. There’s live music here at Singapore Airlines (% 208 7695; 3 President John Day-trippers are advised to leave their car in
weekends and it’s unquestionably the main Live Music Kennedy Street, Port Louis) one of the car parks in the waterfront com-
bar in the city, enjoying popularity with ex- Keg & Marlin (%211 6821; Caudan Waterfront; hnoon- South African Airways (%202 6737; Rogers House, 5 plex. These are open from 7am to 11pm and
pats, locals and visitors alike. midnight Mon-Thu, to 3am Fri, to 1am Sat & Sun; a) At the President John Kennedy St, Port Louis) cost Rs 25 for the first four hours plus Rs 25
Beer & Spice (%210 5376; Astrolabe Bldg, Port Louis weekends the Keg & Marlin transforms into for each additional hour.
Waterfront; h9am-11pm; a) On the other side Port Louis’ only live-music venue. Standards Bus Cars can be parked on the street for a
of the waterfront complex, this quiet and vary enormously from rock outfits to séga. Port Louis’ two bus stations are both lo- maximum of two hours at a time in any one
friendly café-bar is a popular place with lo- cated in the city centre. Buses for northern place and the appropriate number of parking
cals, serving a wide variety of drinks, good Theatre and eastern destinations, such as Trou aux coupons, available at any filling station, must
sandwiches and decent coffee. Municipal Theatre (Jules Koenig St) There are fre- Biches, Grand Baie and Pamplemousses, be displayed on the dashboard. See p153 for
Latitude 20 (%202 4000; Labourdonnais Waterfront quent plays – in French, English and Creole – leave from Immigration Square, northeast more about street parking.
Hotel, Caudan Waterfront; h9am-midnight; a) Despite as well as jazz and classical music recitals at of the Central Market.
being a hotel bar this is probably still Port Port Louis’ principal theatre. Ticket prices Buses for southern and western destina- Taxi
Louis’ best spot for a cocktail. The nautical vary, but most events cost around Rs 100. tions, such as Mahébourg, Curepipe and Expect to pay around Rs 50 to Rs 100 for a
theme may not scream good taste, but the Look for announcements in the local press Quatre Bornes, use the Victoria Square ter- short taxi ride across town, and slightly more
drinks are very well made and there’s usually or call the tourist office to find out what’s on. minus just south of the centre. at night. As usual, always agree to a price be-
a pianist doing his thing in the corner. Theatre tickets can be purchased at the box The first departure on most routes is at forehand. It’s best to avoid using taxis during
Sunset Café (%211 9137; Caudan Waterfront; h9am- office in the theatre itself. about 6am; the last leaves at around 6pm. morning and evening rush hours, when you’ll
10pm Mon-Thu, to midnight Fri & Sat, to 11pm Sun; a) probably end up just sitting in a traffic jam.
Usually a place where parched day-trippers SHOPPING Car See p153 for more information on taxis.
end up taking refuge in cold beer, this is an Central Market (h5.30am-5.30pm Mon-Sat, 5.30am- Car rental is expensive in Port Louis. You’ll
over-priced spot, but not unpleasant, with 11.30pm Sun) Port Louis’ main market has a wide find better rates in major tourist centres such AROUND PORT LOUIS
views over the harbour. selection of T-shirts, basketry, spices and sou- as Grand Baie, Flic en Flac or Mahébourg. Domaine Les Pailles
venirs; bargain to get a decent price. Given the size of the island, all car-rental Just a few miles outside of the capital the
ENTERTAINMENT Craft Market (%210 0139) Based in the Caudan agencies will deliver a car to your hotel strange sugar-estate-turned-theme-park
Port Louis offers very little in the way of Waterfront, this market is less fun but also less anywhere on the island – therefore it makes Domaine Les Pailles (Map p86; %286 4225; www
evening entertainment. A movie, a cocktail hassle than central market. You’ll find more sense to contact agencies outside the capital .domainelespailles.net; h10am-5pm) has been trans-
or a gamble are about all that’s available; for upmarket souvenirs, such as Mauritius glass such as Beau Bassin’s Exodus Car Hire (%454 formed into a cultural and heritage centre
nightlife you’ll be better off in Grand Baie or and essential oils from the Domaine de l’Ylang 4396; www.exoduscarhire.com) who will charge a that makes for an enjoyable day or half-day
Flic en Flac. Ylang. The model ship manufacturer MAST small fee to bring the car to you. excursion. The facilities include rides in
(%211 7170) also has an outlet here. horse-drawn carriages, a miniature railway,
Casino The Caudan Waterfront is also the place to Ferry a working replica of a traditional ox-driven
Port Louis Casino (%210 4203; Caudan Waterfront; go for trendy knick-knacks and designer bou- Ferries to Rodrigues and Réunion dock beside sugar mill, a rum distillery producing the
h10am-4am, gaming tables 8pm-4am; a) The mighty tiques, including Floreal, Maille St, Shibani, IV the passenger terminal on Quai D of Port estate’s own brew, a spice garden, a quad-
popular city casino is about the liveliest place Pl@y and Habit. Power Music (%211 9143) stocks Louis harbour, 1km northwest of town. For biking circuit and a children’s playground.
in town after midnight – its salient feature a good selection of CDs by local artists. more information about boats to and from Visitors can choose to tour the site by
externally is its ship-shaped design, crowned Rodrigues see p125, and p306 for Réunion. train, horse carriage or jeep, with the cost
at its prow by the campest lion imaginable. GETTING THERE & AWAY of entry varying accordingly. The cheapest
Meow. There are slot machines downstairs Air GETTING AROUND options are one-hour tours by train at Rs
and blackjack and American roulette on the All of the main airlines serving Mauritius have To/From the Airport 100/80 per adult/child and by horse-drawn
1st floor. Smart-casual dress is required. offices near the waterfront. There are no special airport buses, but regu- carriage at Rs 110/90. A jeep safari costs Rs
Air Austral (%202 6677; Rogers House, 5 President lar services between Port Louis and Mahé- 450/250 and more expensive packages in-
Cinemas John Kennedy St, Port Louis) bourg call at the airport; the stop is near the cluding lunch are also available. Quad biking
Star Cinema (%211 5361; Caudan Waterfront; tickets Rs Air France (%202 6747; Rogers House, 5 President John roundabout, roughly 300m from the termi- costs from Rs 350 for 30 minutes.
150; a) This is Port Louis’ biggest and best Kennedy St, Port Louis) nal buildings. Heading to the airport from On weekdays it’s also possible to horse
cinema, with three screens offering main- Air Madagascar (%203 2150; IBL House, Caudan Port Louis, allow two hours to be on the safe ride around the estate. Call the riding centre,
stream international releases. Films are gen- Waterfront, Port Louis) side and make sure the conductor knows Les Écuries du Domaine (%286 4240; h8am-5.30pm
erally dubbed in French and there are usually Air Mauritius (%207 7212; Air Mauritius Centre, where you’re going, as drivers occasionally Mon-Fri, 8am-noon Sat), to make a reservation. An
four or five screenings a day. President John Kennedy St, Port Louis) skip the detour down to the airport. hour’s riding costs Rs 700 per person.
MAURITIUS 66 N O R T H MAU R I T I U S • • B a l a c l a v a & B a i e d e l ’ A r s e n a l lonelyplanet.com Book accommodation online at lonelyplanet.com N O R T H MAU R I T I U S • • B a l a c l a v a & B a i e d e l ’ A r s e n a l 67

MAURITIUS
The Domaine also has a selection of up- cover areas that remain largely untouched NORTH MAURITIUS 0
0
6 km
4 miles
market restaurants. Best of the bunch are the by mass tourism. Grand Baie is the centre of

ὄὄὄὄὄὄὄὄ

Clos St Louis (mains Rs 280-450; hlunch Mon-Sat, din- the country’s travel industry (although it’s A B To Île Plate (5km); C D
Îlot Gabriel (5km)
La Fosse aux Requins
ner Fri & Sat), in a replica colonial villa, which increasingly finding itself challenged for that SIGHTS & ACTIVITIES (dive site)
To Île Ronde (10km);
Île aux Serpents (14km)
SLEEPING
Baie de L'Arsenal Ruins..............1 A3 Coin de Mire Hotel.....................4 B2
offers top-notch Creole and French cuisine, status by Flic en Flac) and boasts Mauritius’ L'Aventure du Sucre...................2 B3 Kuxville......................................5 B2
and Indra (mains from Rs 250; hlunch & dinner Mon- best nightlife, some of its most excellent res- 1 Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam The Wall; Carpenters La Plantation..............................6 A3
Botanical Gardens...................3 B3 Djabeda Le Meridien Ile Maurice.............7 A3
Sat), which serves excellent Indian fare. Also taurants and shopping. The small villages Coin de Mire Le Victoria..................................8 A3
(Nature Reserve)
on offer is Fu Xiao for Chinese and La Dolce around Grand Baie, Trou aux Biches, Mont Legends.................................(see 12)

ὄ ὄὄὄὄ
INDIAN OCEAN Maritim Hotel............................9 A3
Vita for Italian. Choisy and Pereybère are growing at an in- Oberoi.....................................10 A3
To get to the Domaine, take any bus run- credible pace and all have wonderful beaches Paradise Cove Hotel.................11 B2
Veranda Paul & Virginie...........12 C2
Cap Malheureux
ning between Port Louis and Curepipe and to enjoy, making them other obvious attrac- 5
11
See Trou aux Biches EATING
ask to be let off at the turning for Domaine tions in the region. The lagoon, sheltered from & Around Map p69
Pointe d'Azur
4 14 Cap Malheureux Kanaco.....................................13 B2
Les Pailles (it’s clearly signposted). From the the prevailing winds, offers a host of water Pointe aux Pointe Église Pereybère 13
Bassin
Paquet Pointe aux Le Coin de Mire Resto Bar........14 B2
Canonniers Roches
main road it takes less than half an hour on sports and is particularly good for snorkel-

ὄ ὄὄὄὄ
2 12
foot to the reception. Alternatively, it’s a 10- ling and diving. Petit
Raffray Grand Gaube
Melville
minute taxi ride from Port Louis or Moka. Cap Malheureux, the island’s most north- Mont
Grand Baie

ent
erly point, marks the current end of the coast’s Choisy

BonAnse
serg
A5 Île
Père Laval’s Shrine development. Save a few resorts in Grande Goodlands d'Ambre
Trou aux
The shrine (Map p86; %242 2129; h8.30am-noon & 1- Gaube, there are no hotels until halfway down Biches Fond du Sac M2
4.45pm Mon-Sat, 10am-noon & 1-4pm Sun) of the French the east coast. The lack of beaches and remote A4

ὄὄ
ὄ ὄὄὄὄ
Catholic priest and missionary Père Jacques location mean that you’re truly in the wild. Triolet RIVIÈRE
Désiré Laval is something of a Lourdes of the Inland a plain of sugar-cane fields, pocked DU
Pointe aux PAMPLEMOUSSES REMPART Poudre d'Or
7
Indian Ocean, with many miracles attributed with piles of volcanic boulders stacked by Piments
8 Plaine des A5
to visits to the priest’s grave. The padre died slaves and indentured labourers, slopes gently 3 6
Solitude
Papayes
10
Baie de 1
in 1864 and was beatified in 1979 during a down to the sea. Here you’ll find the wonderful l'Arsenal Balaclava Sir Seewoosagur Pointe Lascars
Ramgoolam
visit by Pope John Paul II. He is credited with SSR Botanical Gardens and the rightly popular 9
A41 Hospital
2
Piton Île du
Mort
converting 67,000 people to Christianity dur- L’Aventure du Sucre – a museum dedicated to Moulin A6

ὄὄὄὄὄ
Baie du Rivière du
à Poudre 3 Rempart
ing his 23 years in Mauritius. Mauritius’ traditional colonial export. Tombeau Pamplemousses
Mt Piton A6 Roches
Today Père Laval is a popular figure for Baie du Rivière
Citron
(267m)
Belle Vue
rt
Noires
Ri
Mauritians of all religions. Pilgrims come Getting There & Around Tombeau viè
re D'Epinay
s Maurel
Re
m
pa

here from as far afield as South Africa, Britain The most useful bus routes in and around

Rivière du
Calebas

de
ses du

s
Terre Rouge
and France to commemorate the anniversary this area are those running from Port Louis’ Rivière FLACQ
of his death on 9 September. The coloured Immigration Square bus station up the coast 4
La
L'Aventure
plaster effigy of the priest that lies on top of to Trou aux Biches, Grand Baie, Pereybère Nicolière

Tombeau
PORT LOUIS To Centre de
the tomb has been rubbed smooth in places and Cap Malheureux. There are also express Valton Flacq (4km)
To Moka (10km); A2 Poste de
by pilgrims touching it in the hope of miracle services direct from Port Louis to Grand Baie. Quatre Bornes (15km); Flacq
Curepipe (25km)
cures. Port Louis is also the starting point for buses
At other times of year the shrine is fairly via Pamplemousses to Grand Gaube.
quiet, though the services held on Friday at To reach this area from the airport you’ll the secluded Baie de l’Arsenal. You can still Mon-Sat, 10am-4pm Sun) This brand new enter-
1pm and 5pm attract a reasonable crowd. need to change buses in Port Louis. Alterna- see the ruins of the French arsenal, along prise is Mauritius’ first aquarium and fills
In the same complex is a large modern tively, a taxi to towns along the northwest with a flourmill and a lime kiln, within the a much-needed niche for non-divers and
church and a shop with a permanent exhi- coast should cost in the region of Rs 800. grounds of the Maritim Hotel, one of the children to see the incredible marine life of
bition of Père Laval’s robe, mitre, letters and Count on around Rs 1000 to Grand Gaube. more sympathetic of several big hotels along the Indian Ocean up close. The five build-
photographs. Many hotels and guesthouses have bikes here. Non-residents can obtain permission to ings contain various types of environment,
To get to the shrine, take a bus signed for rent and can help organise car rental. visit the ruins from the security guard at the including ‘the deep,’ an impressive 15m-long
‘Cité La Cure’ or ‘Père Laval’ from the Im- Otherwise, you can approach the rental hotel entrance; the track begins about 30m slice of reef life. There’s daily fish feeding at
migration Square bus station in Port Louis. agencies directly. The largest concentration inside the gate to the right. 11am, which makes for great viewing.
is in Grand Baie, and there are a smattering There are no bus services to Balaclava or
of outlets in and around Trou aux Biches Baie de l’Arsenal. A taxi from Port Louis will Sleeping & Eating
NORTH MAURITIUS and Pereybère. cost Rs 300 to Rs 350. Maritim Hotel (Map p67; %204 1000; www.maritim
.de; Balaclava; s/d incl breakfast from Rs 5860/8820;
Northern Mauritius offers a huge amount to BALACLAVA & BAIE DE L’ARSENAL Sights nais) The Maritim is a well-estab-
visitors; while its spectacular beaches have Balaclava is named after the region’s black- Mauritius Aquarium (Map p69; % 261 4561; www lished German-owned hotel with an envi-
inevitably lead to heavy development it’s lava rocks, rather than the Crimean battle- .mauritiusaquarium.com; Coastal Rd, Pointe aux Piments; able position out of the wind on Turtle Bay.
never hard to get away from it all and dis- field. It is an attractive wild area overlooking adults/children/family Rs 195/95/525; h 9.30am-5pm Its main plus points are a 25-hectare park,
MAURITIUS 68 N O R T H MAU R I T I U S • • T r o u a u x B i c h e s & A r o u n d lonelyplanet.com lonelyplanet.com N O R T H MAU R I T I U S • • T r o u a u x B i c h e s & A r o u n d 69

MAURITIUS
complete with a nine-hole golf course, tennis developing tourist destinations full of DEEP-SEA FISHING GOLF
courts and riding stables. It has a great beach people seeking better beaches than Grand Deep-sea anglers should head for the Corsaire The nine-hole golf course (%204 6565; h7am-
where guests can indulge in everything from Baie while staying nearby for activities and Club (%265 5209; fax 265 6267; h9am-5pm) beside 6pm; green fee Rs 800, club hire Rs 400) at the Trou
snorkelling to water-skiing, and a choice of restaurants. Trou aux Biches (The Does’ Le Pescatore restaurant in Mont Choisy. aux Biches Hotel is one of the few public-
three restaurants. Wateringhole) enjoys gorgeous white-sand A half-day’s boat charter costs around Rs access courses in Mauritius. There’s a heli-
La Plantation (Map p67; %204 3000; www.apavou beaches shaded by casuarina trees, con- 13,000, and a full day will set you back pad for those in a real hurry.
-hotels.com; Baie des Tortues; s/d with half board Rs tinuing almost unbroken to sleepy Mont Rs 16,000.
9000/13,500; nais) Open since 2000, this Choisy, a charming spot with more great HORSE RIDING
huge complex is an all-encompassing resort beaches leading up along the gently curv- DIVING There’s an excellent riding school, Horse
built in an impressive colonial style (par- ing bay to Pointe aux Canonniers, one of Dive centres that are consistently recom- Riding Delights (%265 6159; Mont Choisy Sugar Es-
ticularly striking is the pool of flowers that the most fashionable spots in the country mended for their professional and friendly tate; hdaily by reservation) on the edge of Mont
greets you in reception, not to mention the with a great selection of accommodation service include Nautilus Diving (% 265 5495; Choisy, just after the junction by the Tarisa
1000-sq-metre pool below). It’s got a great and dining options. www.nautilusdivers.com; h 10am-4pm Mon-Sat), at Resort. Here you can ride in over 200 hec-
location between the Citron River and the The lagoon, sheltered from the prevailing the Trou aux Biches Hotel, and Atlantis tares of land, populated with deer and
ocean, and the beach is lovely. winds, provides great swimming, while the Diving (%265 7172; www.atlantis.freewebspace.com; giant tortoises.
Le Victoria (Map p67; %204 2000; www.levictoria variety and abundance of marine life cou- h8am-5pm), located further south along the
-hotel.com; Pointe aux Piments; s/d with half board from Rs pled with good visibility makes for some main road. SUBMARINE RIDES
9300/13,300 nais) This relaxed four-star excellent snorkelling and diving. Other good options in the area include If you fancy diving but don’t want to get
hotel is popular with families and water- There’s no doubt that the ongoing devel- Prodive (%265 6552; www.geocities.com/padgraphics wet, Blue Safari Submarine (%263 3333; www.blue
sports enthusiasts and it’s easy to see why, opment boom here has rather robbed the /prodive; h8.30am-6.30pm Mon-Sat) at the Casua- -safari.com; Mont Choisy; adult/child Rs 3200/1800; h9am-

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with its large sea-facing rooms, good beach area of its quiet, unspoilt feel, but it’s still rina Hotel, Dive Dream (%265 5367; www.dive 4pm) takes you down among the coral and
and all-inclusive water-sports activities. cheaper and far less hectic than Grand Baie. dream.org; Trou aux Biches; h9am-5pm Tue-Sun) and fishes to a depth of 35m. The ride lasts
Le Meridien Ile Maurice (Map p67; %204 3333; Even the beaches are pleasantly uncrowded Blue Water Diving (%265 7186; www.bluewaterdiving roughly two hours, of which 40 minutes are
www.lemeridien.com; Pointe aux Piments; room only Rs during the week, although there’s fierce center.com; Trou aux Biches; h 8am-4.30pm). Dives spent underwater, with departures every
15,000; nais) This impressive new edi- competition for picnic spots at weekends. start at around Rs 1000 to Rs 1200, rising hour according to demand. Reservations are
tion to the luxury hotels in Pointe aux Pi- to Rs 1500 or so for a night dive. recommended at least a day in advance.
ments is stylish and enjoys a good stretch of Information
beach. The building itself is not particularly Neither Trou aux Biches nor Mont Choisy TROU AUX BICHES & AROUND 0
0 1 mile
2 km

attractive and some won’t enjoy the sheer offer much in the way of shops and other To Cap
size of the place – this is not for an intimate facilities. There are a few grocery stores scat- A
Tombant de la Pointe
B
Pointe Église
C Malheureux
(3km)
D
Lobster d
getaway but rather for an upmarket activity tered around and a branch of the Mauritius aux Canonniers Rock alR Pereybère
Pointe aux oy
holiday: the variety of water sports on offer Commercial Bank (MCB; Royal Rd, Mont Choisy), with a Canonniers
R
See Pereybère Map p79
B45
See Grand Baie Map p72
is superb and the rooms are huge. 24-hour ATM and a bureau de change (h9am- 1
Royal Rd

ὄὄ ὄ
Holt's Rock 13
oOberoi (Map p67; %204 3600; www.oberoi 5pm Mon-Fri, 9am-noon Sat). 26
22 SLEEPING
Beach Villas..................................8 B2
hotels.com; Pointe aux Piments; r from Rs 34,500, with private Kingfish
Grand Casuarina Hotel............................9 B2
29 Baie
pool from Rs 68,000; nais) Quite simply Activities Mont
Colonial Beach Hotel..................10 A3
Coralia Mont Choisy...................11 B2
stunning, the Oberoi is definitely the north’s Trou aux Biches and Mont Choisy are both Corsaire Wall
Choisy
Beach Grand
Grand Baie Travel & Tours.........(see 8)
Hotel Villa Kissen........................12 B2
most famous and best hotel. Set in copious important water-sports centres. Activities INDIAN
27 Baie
Le Canonnier..............................13 B1
8 6
gardens, the hotel boasts a gorgeous beach on offer range from touring the lagoon in 11 18
Le Sakoa....................................14 A2
OCEAN

ὄὄ

Nick Tour...................................15 A3
and stunningly set out grounds including a a glass-bottomed boat to parasailing, water- 25
3
1
Mont A4 Résidences C'est Ici....................16 A2
Choisy
high-flowing waterfall that dominates the en- skiing, deep-sea fishing and diving. Stella Maru 9
M2 Rocksheen Villa..........................17 B2
Tarisa Resort..............................18 B2
semble. The best villas here have their own Snorkelling equipment (Rs 150 per day) 2 Caravelle
19 B13 Trou aux Biches Hotel................19 B2
pools and gardens enjoying total privacy and can be rented at the boat house (%728 4335; 5
EATING
making them perfect for honeymooners. In- h 9am-5pm) on Trou aux Biches’ public 4
17
Chez Popo Supermarket.............20 A2
28
side it’s all understated luxury, an inventive beach. They also rent out pedalos and kay- 14
16 24 Maheswamath
INFORMATION Coco de Mer..............................21 A3
MCB............................................1 B2 Hidden Reef................................22 B1
mix of African and Asian design, making aks (Rs 400 per hour) and offer a variety of Temple

ὄὄ
Troux aux 20 30 12 La Cravache d'Or.......................23 A3
Biches Beach 21
the most of natural light. The two pools can other activities, including glass-bottomed Waterlily
d 2
15 B36 SIGHTS & ACTIVITIES
Atlantis Diving.............................2 A3
La Marmite Mauricienne..........(see 24)
L'Assiette du Nord......................24 B2
& Emily al R Trou aux
easily lay claim to being the most beautiful boat tours (Rs 450 per hour per person), 23 Roy Trou aux Biches Rd Blue Safari Submarine................(see 1) Le Pescatore...............................25 B2
Biches Blue Water Diving........................3 B2 Persand Royal Supermarket........26 B1
in all Mauritius and other features include water-skiing (Rs 550 for 12 minutes) and B38
Boat House..................................4 A2 Pizza & Pasta..............................27 B2
10
wonderfully chic public areas, superb restau- parasailing (Rs 1000 for 10 minutes). Casuarina Hotel Boat House......(see 9) Souvenir Restaurant...................28 B2
Corsaire Club...........................(see 25)
rants and a world-class spa. Prices are similar at the Casuarina Hotel 3
7 Dive Dream..............................(see 24) DRINKING
boat house (%759 1127; Mont Choisy; h9am-5pm). B35 Triolet
Golf Course..................................5 B2 Latina.........................................29 B1
Camp
TROU AUX BICHES & AROUND In addition, they also offer windsurfing (Rs Scipion B37 Horse Riding Delights...................6 B2
Mauritius Aquarium.....................7 A3 TRANSPORT
Relaxed Trou aux Biches and the neigh- 300 per hour) and catamaran outings to the To Pointe aux To Port Louis
Nautilus Diving........................(see 19) Flambeau...................................30 B2
Prodive......................................(see 9) Winkworth..............................(see 26)
bouring village of Mont Choisy are fast- northern islands (p78). Piments (1km) (20km)
MAURITIUS 70 N O R T H MAU R I T I U S • • T r o u a u x B i c h e s & A r o u n d Book accommodation online at lonelyplanet.com lonelyplanet.com N O R T H MAU R I T I U S • • T r o u a u x B i c h e s & A r o u n d 71

MAURITIUS
Sleeping Colonial Beach Hotel (%261 5187; cbeach@intent Trou aux Biches Hotel (%204 6565; www.trouaux a sumptuous menu of freshly sourced seafood
It seems almost every building along this .mu; Trou aux Biches; s/d with half board Rs 4000/5500; biches-hotel.com; Trou aux Biches; s/d with half board from Rs and fish. The chocolate brownies are unbeliev-
stretch of coast is available for rent in some pas) This small and intimate hotel on 12,650/18,000; pais) This classic beach ably good. One of our favourites.
shape or form. Much of the accommodation the beach offers decent accommodation in hotel is on a great open stretch of bay that’s su- Pizza & Pasta (%265 7000; Mont Choisy; mains Rs 250;
is in the midrange bracket and consists of self- white two-storey blocks. There are two pools perb for swimming. It boasts a huge pool and hlunch & dinner) Advertised for miles around,
catering apartments, villas and bungalows, and good snorkelling right in front of the considerable style, although doesn’t always this large garden complex just next to the
often with terraces or balconies for viewing beach. feel five star. The huge grounds, comfortable Mont Choisy public beach looks great from
the sunset. A few of the best are listed here. oLe Sakoa (%265 5242; www.lesakoa.com; accommodation and big range of activities the outside and is pretty charmingly set out
For a wider choice, contact Nick Tour (%265 Trou aux Biches; s/d incl breakfast from Rs 4700; as) make it particularly attractive to families. inside, but the food is sadly mediocre, over-
5279; nicktour@intnet.mu; Trou aux Biches) and Grand Baie Deservedly popular, the Sakoa needs to be priced and not particularly authentic either.
Travel & Tours (GBTT; %265 5261; www.gbtt.com; Beach booked well in advance as it’s a great deal. Eating
Villas, Mont Choisy); both manage a range of well- This spacious accommodation is in wonderful As ever more restaurants set up along here, TOP END
maintained accommodation in the area. You two-storey thatched blocks radiating out from there is an increasingly broad selection of La Cravache d’Or (%265 7021; Trou aux Biches; mains
should try to book in advance for the best the fantastic beach. The whole place oozes outlets catering for most tastes. Self-caterers Rs 500; hlunch & dinner Mon-Sat) One of the best
options, but there’s nearly always something style and carefree charm. should head for the well-stocked Chez Popo Su- restaurants in Mauritius, La Cravache d’Or
available at late notice. Tarisa Resort (%265 6600; www.tarisa-hotel.com; Mont permarket (Royal Rd) in Trou aux Biches. Around enjoys an absolutely gorgeous setting right
Choisy; s/d Rs 4700; pais) Mont Choisy’s Mont Choisy, Persand Royal Supermarket (Royal on the beach, making it perfect for a romantic
BUDGET most-luxurious hotel, the attractive Tarisa is Rd) is your best bet. meal. The small daily-changing menu features
Rocksheen Villa (%265 5043; www.rocksheenvilla.com; block booked by tour operators, mainly the meat and fish dishes, although vegetarians can
161 Morcellement Jhuboo, Trou aux Biches; s/d incl breakfast French Look Voyages group, and isn’t usually BUDGET & MIDRANGE be catered for. Reserve in advance at week-
Rs 550/650, studio from Rs 650; a) Down a quiet side accessible to independent travellers; however, Souvenir Restaurant (%265 7047; Trou aux Biches; mains ends, and at any time you’d like to sure of
street about 300m back from the beach (com- it’s worth a try as it’s well located and has Rs 45-125; h7am-9pm Mon-Sat, 7am-2pm Sun) Always sitting at one of the sea-view tables.
ing from the sea turn left after passing La Mar- great rooms. busy, this unfussy and friendly place sees lo- oLe Pescatore (%265 6337; Mont Choisy;
mite Mauricienne) is this homely guesthouse Coralia Mont Choisy (%265 6070; mont_choisy@intnet cals and tourists enjoying quality food at low mains Rs 700, set menu Rs 2200; hlunch & dinner) For
run by a charming Scottish-Mauritian couple. .mu; Mont Choisy; s/d incl breakfast Rs 4968/6625, with half prices. As well as the restaurant there’s a shop sheer style and charm Le Pescatore has to be
In fact, it has proven so popular that they’ve board Rs 5685/8065; ais) The rooms here inside, giving it the feel of a local hub. our favourite restaurant in northern Mauri-
built an extension. Well run and spotlessly may be fairly charmless, but there’s a decent L’Assiette du Nord (%265 7040; Trou aux Biches; tius. Wonderfully chic, light décor and a great
clean, the place receives consistently good if rather small beach with a large range of mains Rs 125-200; hlunch & dinner) A popular option terrace overlooking the fishing boats in the
reports from travellers. water sports available and a good pool, plus where you can opt for the terrace or a slightly sea below set the scene for a truly superior
Hotel Villa Kissen (%265 5523; www.villa-kissen the welcome is at least friendly. smarter dining area behind the fish tank par- eating experience. Dishes such as lobster in
.com; Trou aux Biches; s/d incl breakfast Rs 850, studio Rs Casuarina Hotel (%204 5000; www.hotel-casuarina tition. Seafood features strongly, served in ginger and saké sauce, and St Brandon Berry
1000; as) This friendly guesthouse recently .com; Trou aux Biches; s/d with half board from Rs 6500/9000, apt Chinese, Indian and Creole style. Try fish fish with carrot juice and cardamom give you
relocated to smarter premises near the beach. room only from Rs 8000; as) Definitely one of the cooked in banana leaf with madras sauce or an idea of what to expect.
It’s now a great option; each room comes more interesting midrange places, the Moor- perhaps prawns in garlic butter.
with air-con, a private balcony, TV and safe. ish style found externally here is matched by La Marmite Mauricienne (% 265 7604; Trou Drinking
The studios have their own kitchens. equally inventive apartment layouts. It’s also aux Biches; mains from Rs 150; hlunch & dinner) This The best bar this side of Grand Baie is Latina
pleasantly small and so feels very relaxed. The basic but sweet place down the road beyond (%491 5338; Pointe aux Canonniers; h3pm-2am), a
MIDRANGE only minus is having to cross the road to the L’Assiette du Nord has a pleasant outdoor feel, great little roadside DJ bar with friendly staff
Beach Villas (%265 5261; www.gbtt.com; Mont Choisy; beach, but otherwise this place is great. with lots of tables on the terrace (although and dark-red décor. For clubs, you have to
studio/apt from Rs 2125/3150; as) Grand Baie sadly on a rather busy road). The menu is head into Grand Baie.
Travel & Tours have eight different proper- TOP END Mauritian, featuring mostly seafood, noodles
ties in the area, all let from the office here. Le Canonnier (% 263 7000; www.lecanonnier-hotel and curries. Getting There & Around
The accommodation is comfy, if a little .com; Pointe aux Canonniers; s/d with half board from Rs Coco de Mer (%265 7316; Trou aux Biches; mains Rs Trou aux Biches and Mont Choisy are served
sterile, consisting of self-catering studios 8000/11,500; pais) The location here is 180; hlunch & dinner Tue-Sun; a) This excellent by nonexpress buses running between Port
(for two persons) and apartments (for up one of the best in the country: the beachy Seychellois restaurant serves up top-notch Louis’ Immigration Square bus station and
to four). The small beach is a bit rocky, al- head of a peninsula with attractive beaches fish dishes, curries and all manner of seafood. Cap Malheureux via Grand Baie. There
though there’s sand just 50m down. on all sides and even a ruined lighthouse Each meal is accompanied by a delicious se- are bus stops about every 500m along the
Résidences C’est Ici (%265 5231; www.cest-ici. (now rather sacrilegiously housing a kids lection of salads and a lentil soup, so you’re coastal highway.
com; Trou aux Biches; studio/apt from Rs 3000/3300; a) club) on the grounds. It’s a pity then that unlikely to leave empty. The Saturday evening A taxi to Grand Baie costs around Rs 200, to
This hotel has spruce, well-equipped self- the accommodation is in rather uninspiring buffet (Rs 300) is excellent value. Port Louis Rs 300 and to the airport Rs 900. A
catering accommodation at very reasonable beige blocks. Inside the rooms are spacious Hidden Reef (%263 0567; Pointe aux Canonniers; mains return trip to Pamplemousses, including wait-
prices. The two-person studios through to (and equally beige) but the guests seem de- Rs 250; hdinner; a) This convivial, smart little ing time, should be in the region of Rs 500.
the apartments for up to five all have their lighted with the experience. Oh, and check addition to a great stretch of restaurants on To hire a car, contact Flambeau (%262 6357;
own terrace. It’s set among coconut palms out that banyan tree – surely the largest in the main road to Grand Baie has a beautifully Trou aux Biches) or the slightly more expensive
right on the beach. Mauritius? lit courtyard for romantic al fresco dining and Winkworth (%263 4789; persand@intnet.mu), beside
ὄὄ ὄ
MAURITIUS 72 N O R T H MAU R I T I U S • • G r a n d B a i e lonelyplanet.com lonelyplanet.com N O R T H MAU R I T I U S • • G r a n d B a i e 73

MAURITIUS
0 500 m
GRAND BAIE 0 0.3 miles
INFORMATION SLEEPING Super U Hypermarket............... 37 D3
Cyber Escales.............................. 1 D2 Chez Vaco................................14 A1 Thai Foon...............................(see 38)

ὄὄ
ὄὄ
A B C To Pereybère D Cyber Pirate................................2 D1 Filao Village Hotel.....................15 A1 Vegetable Shop.........................38 B3
(2km)
19 Internet Café..........................(see 37) Grand Bay Beach Hotel............. 16 C3
40 MCB...........................................3 D1 Le Mauricia...............................17 C2 DRINKING
0 50 m Papyrus.....................................(see 4) Les Orchidées...........................18 C3 Alchemy.................................(see 26)

Rd
Post Office................................. 4 D3 Merville Beach Hotel.................19 C1 B52........................................... 39 D2
1

al
48 State Bank..............................(see 29) Ocean Villas............................. 20 A2 La Rhumerie...........................(see 23)

Roy
24
22
15
Beach Thomas Cook Exchange Residence Peramal....................21 A2 Lotus on the Square..................40 C1
51
Bureau..................................... 5 D2 Royal Palm................................22 C1 Sunset Café............................(see 46)

ὄὄὄ
ὄὄ
Rd
7 2
6 36 23 Ti Fleur Soleil............................ 23 D1
46

l
SIGHTS & ACTIVITIES Ventura Hotel...........................24 C1 ENTERTAINMENT

ya
42 3

ole
14

Ro
49
Captain Nemo's Undersea Veranda Hotel.......................... 25 C2 Buddha Club.............................41 C2

L'Ec
Pointe Baignoire 25 41 HSBC 30
35 11 32
Walk..................................(see 29) Star Dance................................42 C1

de
50 29 47 1

in
Barclays Ebrahim Travel & Tours...........(see 49) EATING Zanzibar.................................(see 29)

em
To Trou aux 17 Bank 39

Ch
Biches (3km) Grand Baie 44 26 Grand Baie Gym..........................6 A1 Alchemy................................... 26 D2
10 Grand Baie Hydro Spa.................7 A1 Café Müller...............................27 B3 SHOPPING
5 Grand Baie Travel & Tours......(see 48) Crok Chaud..............................28 B3 Françoise Vrot Studio................43 A3
2 20
La Colombe Tourist Bureau.........8 B3 Don Camillo..............................29 C2 Galerie Vaco Baissac................. 44 C2
Beach
31 See Enlargement Maurisun Adventure & Ebisu.......................................(see 31) Grand Baie Bazaar.................... 45 D2
Tours....................................... 9 A2 Fusion.....................................(see 36) Sunset Boulevard......................46 D1
B13 MauriTours.............................(see 46) Grand Baie Store...................... 30 D2 Sunset Boulevard...................... 47 D2
33 45
21 Neptune Diving......................(see 13) Iguana Lounge........................(see 36)
9 12 Northview Tours....................... 10 D2 La Langouste Grisée..................31 A2 TRANSPORT
13
Police Prodive....................................(see 16) La Vieille Rouge........................ 32 D2 Avis.......................................... 48 D1
Royal Rd
37

La
16 B45 Shiv Kalyan Vath Mandir Le Capitaine..............................33 A2 Budget....................................(see 46)
27 18 4

Sa
38 la

let
43 34 28 8 52 de Temple................................. 11 C2 Le Tandoor................................34 B3 Contract Cars............................49 D1

te
Rte lline

Rd
Co
Sportfisher..............................(see 46) L'Épicerie Gourmand...............(see 35) Europcar...................................50 C2
Surya Oudaya Sangam Luigi's.......................................35 C2 Express Buses to Port Louis.......51 D1
3 B11 Temple...................................12 A2 Paparazzi................................(see 47) GBC Car Rental......................(see 49)
Yacht Charters.......................... 13 A2 Store 2000................................36 C1 Keiffel Tours..............................52 B3

A4
To Goodlands
To Pamplemousses (13km);
Port Louis (20km) via M2
(8km)
Internet Café (%263 2478, Super U Hypermarket, La CRUISES
Salette Rd; h9am-8.30pm Mon-Thu, 9am-9pm Fri & Cruises are a popular activity in Grand Baie.
Sat, 9am-1.30pm Sun) Next to the checkouts. Perhaps the most interesting is that offered
the Persand Royal Supermarket in Pointe Orientation by Yacht Charters (%263 8395; www.isla-mauritia
aux Canonniers. Orientation in Grand Baie is easy, as almost MONEY .com; Royal Rd; h8am-7pm). Its magnificent sail-
everything is strung out along the coastal Mauritius Commercial Bank (MCB; Royal Rd; ing ship, the Isla Mauritia, was built in 1852
GRAND BAIE highway. The centre point of the town is the hexchange bureau 8am-6pm Mon-Sat, 9am-noon and is claimed to be the world’s oldest active
pop 2800 Sunset Boulevard shopping complex (includ- Sun) schooner. Today the Isla Mauritia offers two
Grand Baie was once called De Bogt Zonder ing the jetty) at the junction of the coastal State Bank (Royal Rd; hexchange bureau 8am-6pm day-cruises per week on a Wednesday and
Eyndt (Bay Without End) by the Dutch in the highway (known here as Royal Rd), with the Mon-Sat, 9am-noon Sun) Saturday, with snorkelling, lunch at Baie du
17th century. Now frequently referred to as road inland to Goodlands and the M2 mo- Thomas Cook Exchange Bureau (h8am-8pm) Tombeau and traditional music for Rs 1950,
a resort and famous for its nightlife, Grand torway via the Super U Hypermarket. or Rs 975 for under 10s. It’s best to book at
Baie is actually a surprisingly cosmopolitan The terminus for express buses to and least a day in advance.
and classy town, and although it’s the centre from Port Louis is on Royal Rd about 100m POST Other companies offer cruises on mod-
of northern Mauritius’ tourism industry, it can north of the town centre. Nonexpress serv- Post office (Richmond Hill Bldg; h8.15am-4pm ern catamarans. The most popular options
hardly be written off as a mere resort. Indeed, ices via Trou aux Biches stop every few hun- Mon-Fri, 8.15am-11.45pm Sat) Out near the Super U are the day trips around the northern islands
its beach is mediocre and its eponymous bay dred metres along the coast road. Hypermarket; the last 45 minutes before closing are for (p78), including a barbecue lunch and stops
crowded with fishing boats. But despite this, stamp sales only. for swimming and snorkelling. You can also
many people prefer to eat, shop and go out in Information take a sunset cruise, with the option of din-
Grand Baie itself for the variety and quality BOOKSHOPS Sights & Activities ner on board. Prices start at around Rs 1400
on offer, and make day trips instead to the Papyrus (%263 0012; Richmond Hill Bldg, La Salette Grand Baie’s prime attraction is the range per adult (Rs 600 for children under 12)
surrounding villages to enjoy good beaches. Rd; h9am-7pm Mon-Sat, 9.30am-noon Sun) A rea- of water-based activities on offer. Otherwise, for a day trip around the northern islands,
Granted it’s popular, but Grand Baie is sonably well-stocked bookshop with a range of mainly the only specific sights are a couple of viv- and Rs 600 per person for a sunset cruise
not a bad place to base yourself. It’s the main French-language books and magazines. idly colourful Tamil temples: Surya Oudaya (excluding dinner).
departure point for cruises to the northern Sangam (h8am-5pm Mon-Sat) at the west end One of the biggest operators is Croisières Aus-
islands (p78). Public transport connections INTERNET ACCESS of town, and the older Shiv Kalyan Vath Man- trales (%670 4301; www.mttb-mautourco.com), which
are also good and there’s a wide choice of Cyber Escales (La Salette Rd; h10am-8pm Mon-Sat) dir towards Pereybère. Both are dedicated to owns the two luxury ‘Harris Wilson’ boats;
accommodation from cheap apartments to Cyber Pirate (Galeries Espace Ocean; h9.30am-8pm Shiva. Visitors are welcome but shoes should bookings can be made through MauriTours or
top-notch luxury resorts. Mon-Sat, 10am-noon Sun) The best in town. be removed before entering. any other Grand Baie tour agent (see p74).
MAURITIUS 74 N O R T H MAU R I T I U S • • G r a n d B a i e Book accommodation online at lonelyplanet.com lonelyplanet.com N O R T H MAU R I T I U S • • G r a n d B a i e 75

MAURITIUS
DEEP-SEA FISHING Rd; day membership Rs 650) where as well as enjoying four people) are modern, spacious and well accommodation scene, this stylish yet budget
Based beside the Sunset Boulevard jetty, Sport- the fabulous pool and gym, you can indulge in maintained. Not surprisingly, it gets booked guesthouse is a real find. Whether it’s the
fisher (%263 8358; www.sportfisher.com; Royal Rd; half-/ a huge range of spa treatments, steam yourself up well in advance. charming little garden decorated with local
full day from Rs 9500/12,500 per boat; h6am-6pm) has in the hammam and enjoy low-fat dishes at Filao Village Hotel (%263 7482; www.filaosvillage.8k art and comfortable furniture or the small
four boats, each taking up to six people (three the café. The gym is located in a building .com; Pointe aux Canonniers; studio incl breakfast from Rs 1250; but delightful rooms, all of which successfully
anglers and three companions). Most tour across the road from the spa. ai) This is a superb place; pretty thatched create an atmosphere of warm minimalism,
agents can also arrange trips. blocks house just 12 rooms organised around a this is an innovative place. Rooms 7 and 12
Tours decent pool and look onto the bay with access are the largest and have closed-off bathrooms.
DIVING Grand Baie’s numerous tour agents can pro- to a little beach. It’s out of the way without There’s also a free speedboat transfer across
The local diving industry has emphatically vide information on things to do in the area being remote – a perfect spot for relaxation. the lagoon to Grand Baie from a small beach
moved down the coast to less built-up Mont with the aim, naturally, of signing you up for up the road.
Choisy and Trou aux Biches, but a number this cruise package or that coach trip. While MIDRANGE Les Orchidées (%263 8780; www.mauritius-island
of operators still maintain a base in Grand prices tend to be similar, the details may vary, Ventura Hotel (%263 6030; www.hotelventura.com; Royal .com/orchidees; Route de la Colline; r incl breakfast from
Baie. Among these, Neptune Diving (%263 3768; so make sure you know exactly what is in- Rd; s/d incl breakfast Rs 1600/2500; pas) It may Rs 2500; as) Highly recommended and ex-
neptunediving@intent.mu; Royal Rd; h8.30am-4.30pm cluded. All agents sell tickets for glass-bot- look virtually deserted but this is a decent tremely popular (book ahead), this small hotel
Mon-Sat), gets consistently good reports. A dive tomed boat trips, undersea walks, Le Nessee central option with a surprisingly pleasant is set back from the coast in a quiet location
costs around Rs 1200. Prodive (%265 6552; www (left) and the Blue Safari Submarine (p69). pool and public area once you get through just a short walk from the centre of town.
.geocities.com/padgraphics/prodive; h8.30am-6.30pm Mon- Many also offer car-hire services and airport the indifferent exterior. You have a choice of Sweet, simple, brightly coloured rooms and a
Sat), based at the Casuarina Hotel in Trou aux transfers and can organise accommodation. double rooms and family rooms, which sleep charming pool area make this a great option.
Biches also has an office in Grand Baie outside Tour agents with a reliable reputation: four. All have TV, air-con, phone and a view Veranda Hotel (%209 8000; www.verandagroup.com;
the Grand Bay Beach Hotel. Ebrahim Travel & Tours (%263 7845; www.gbccar onto the pool. Royal Rd; s/d/t with half board from Rs 5500/7900/10,500;
.mu; Ebrahim Flats, Royal Rd) Grand Bay Beach Hotel (%263 4984; www.grand pais) The rather elegant public areas
UNDERSEA WALKS Grand Baie Travel & Tours (GBTT; %263 8771; baybeachhotel.com; Royal Rd; s/d/t incl breakfast Rs here give the Veranda a sense of exclusivity
For nondivers, Captain Nemo’s Undersea Walk www.gbtt.com; Royal Rd) This office mainly sells air 1700/2200/2600, apt from Rs 3200; as) This well- unusual for the price. The two pools, good
(%263 7819; www.captainemo-underseawalk.com; Royal tickets; its accommodation office is in Mont Choisy. located hotel in the very centre of town has facilities and a recent refit of the rooms also
Rd; per person Rs 1000; h8.30am-5pm) provides the La Colombe Tourist Bureau (%283 9262; www clean, bright rooms that are great value for help. The beach is fine, but no great shakes,
unique experience of walking underwater .mauritiuslacolombe.com; Royal Rd) money. Rooms come with a balcony, TV, although the location is handy for town and
wearing a diver’s helmet and weight belt. Maurisun Adventure & Tours (%263 0192; www phone and kitchen and there’s a cool roof there’s a new Seven Colours spa here to help
Solar-powered pumps on the boat above feed .maurisun.com; Royal Rd) A cut above the competition terrace featuring a small pool and some excel- with relaxation.
oxygen to you during the 25-minute ‘walk on with its range of adventure tours, including sea kayaking. lent views. You’ll pay an Rs 250 supplement
the wet side’. Walks are available to everyone MauriTours (%263 6056; www.mauritours.net; Sunset for a sea view. TOP END
over the age of seven. There are trips every few Boulevard, Royal Rd) Upmarket all-round travel agency Ti Fleur Soleil (%563 0380; www.tifleursoleil.com; Merville Beach Hotel (%209 2200; www.naiade.com;
hours from 9am to 3pm. In peak season it’s selling air tickets, excursions, accommodation, island tours Royal Rd; s/d incl breakfast from Rs 1800/2400, apt 4300; a) s/d with half board from Rs 7600/11,500; ais) The
advisable to book a day in advance. and cruises. The ‘little sunflower’ is a sweet, friendly hotel Merville enjoys a friendly atmosphere, very
Northview Tours (%263 5023; http://pages.intnet.mu/nor that can’t be beaten for its location right in the pleasant gardens, a sweet little stretch of beach
SEMISUBMERSIBLES tours; Royal Rd) heart of Grand Baie. The glowing reviews in and pleasant rooms in well-maintained yellow
A number of semisubmersible vessels offer Prodive Tours (%263 0632; prodive@hotmail.com; the guestbook attest to the hotel’s popularity thatched blocks. There are also good sports
coral-viewing tours. Le Nessee (adult/child Royal Rd) although some have moaned about the quality facilities to match, including a dive centre.
Rs 800/450) is a distinctive yellow semi-sub- of breakfast. The rooms – all with terrace – Le Mauricia (%209 1100; www.lemauricia-hotel.com;
marine run by Croisières Australes (p73). It Sleeping are clean and simple. There’s a choice of fan- s/d with half board from Rs 7500/10,500; as) One of
departs from Grand Baie’s Sunset Boulevard Much of the budget and midrange accom- cooled or air-con rooms. the more affordable four-stars, Le Mauricia
jetty several times daily and the trip lasts just modation in Grand Baie takes the form of Ocean Villas (%263 1000; www.ocean.mu; Royal Rd; sits in spacious grounds on a prime stretch of
under two hours, with 30 minutes of snorkel- self-catering studios and apartments. There r incl breakfast from Rs 2200, apt from Rs 3700; pais) palm-fringed beach. It’s big and efficient, and
ling for those who wish. Tickets are available are some excellent deals around, especially if Recommended for its broad range of accom- has two good-sized pools and all the activities
from hotels and tour agents. you arrive at a quiet time of the year and with modation, from straightforward hotel rooms you’d expect: everything from a kids club to
three friends in tow. A clutch of smart hotels to self-catering units for up to eight people a raft of water and land sports. Cheerful and
SWIMMING & SPAS occupies the east side of the bay, but Grand and sleek honeymoon suites remodelled in airy rooms come with sea-view terraces.
The beach at Grand Baie is nothing special Baie is not a centre for luxury. 2006 with sunken baths. Facilities include Royal Palm (%209 8300; www.royalpalm-hotel.com;
and the bay here is congested with boats. In- an excellent new pool plus a small strip of s/d with half board from Rs 35,500/51,000; nais)
stead, you’re better off heading for La Cuvette BUDGET beach (with limited water sports on offer), a The flagship hotel of the Beachcomber group
public beach beside the Veranda Hotel on the Residence Peramal (%263 8109; residenceperamal@intnet restaurant and the love nest – a private house and a member of Leading Hotels of the World,
bay’s north side. It’s not huge, but the sand is .mu; Royal Rd; studio Rs 1075, apt Rs 1350-1720) Excel- on the beach. the Royal Palm is nothing short of stunning.
good and the water clean. lent-value self-catering accommodation on oChez Vaco (%263 4391; www.papillonhotels Suites are impeccable (for there are no mere
Another option is to visit Grand Baie Gym & a little promontory plum in the centre of andvillas.com; Pointe aux Canonniers; s/d Rs 2100/3100; rooms here), with a huge number of catego-
Hydro Spa (%263 4891; www.grandbaiegym.com; 3 X Club Grand Baie. The fan-cooled units (for up to ai) A welcome addition to Grand Baie’s ries from junior to royal, and the service and
MAURITIUS 76 N O R T H MAU R I T I U S • • G r a n d B a i e lonelyplanet.com lonelyplanet.com N O R T H MAU R I T I U S • • G r a n d B a i e 77

MAURITIUS
facilities are top-notch. The health spa even tions advised) as the place hums to hungry below), Ebisu offers a sushi bar as well as Sunset Café (%263 9602; Sunset Boulevard, Royal Rd;
boasts its own restaurant serving low-calorie travellers enjoying excellent curries, naans more substantial teppanyaki theatrics. Res- h8.30am-7.30pm Mon-Sat, 8.30am-6pm Sun) Inside the
cuisine so you can jump into your private pool and tandoori dishes. ervations are advised in the evenings. Sunset Boulevard complex overlooking the
(or the sea) with confidence. Thai Foon (%269 1169; Royal Rd; mains Rs 230; La Langouste Grisée (%263 1035; www.lalangouste water, this is a pleasant place for coffee.
hlunch & dinner; a) Newly opened in 2006 by grisee.com; Royal Rd; mains Rs 450; hlunch & dinner)
Eating the original team behind Pereybère’s Wang This is a restaurant frequented by the great Entertainment
While the centre of town is packed with eater- Thai, authenticity is the watchword at Thai and the good of Grand Baie, offering very NIGHT CLUBS
ies, the very best tend to be slightly outside Foon. This means fresh ingredients imported stylish dining in an attractive garden over- Buddha Club (%263 7664; Royal Rd; Wed admission free,
the heart of Grand Baie, particularly toward from Bangkok, a Thai chef and some excellent looking a pond as well as charming indoor Fri & Sat Rs 250; h11.30pm-5am Wed-Sat; a) Grand
Le Canonnier and Pereybère. You’ll have no Thai cocktails. The eating space is stylish but tables. As a winner of the Fourchette d’Or in Baie’s top nightspot positively sizzles on a
end of choice though; the following are just relaxed, with outside seating available. 2005, ‘the Tipsy Lobster’ is generally recog- Friday and Saturday night when all three
the best of a good bunch. Alchemy (%269 1137; mains Rs 250; La Salette Rd; nised as one of the best restaurants on the dance floors are packed. Smart-casual dress
hlunch & dinner) This friendly place set back island. Sample dishes from its imaginative is required.
BUDGET from the coastal road is a great mix of bar Franco-Mauritian menu include Dorado Star Dance (%263 6388; Royal Rd; Tue-Thu & Sun
Café Müller (%263 5230; Royal Rd; salads & sandwiches and grill. The pizzas are cooked in a tradi- fillet with peanut sauce and banana slices. admission free, Fri admission free for women, Fri & Sat Rs
from Rs 100; h9.30am-5pm Mon-Sat) This charming tional wood-fired oven and are excellent, plus Lobster is obviously the speciality and vege- 250; hTue-Sun 11pm-5am; a) Next door to Bud-
addition to Grand Baie’s café scene is a great there’s a big range of steaks and seafood, and tarians really shouldn’t bother coming. dha Bar, its rival also has three dance floors
place for breakfast or a light lunch. As the imaginative daily specials. with a choice of techno, tropical and ’60s to
name suggests, it’s a German-run café and ’80s music. It’s slightly more relaxed and less
SELF-CATERING
bakery that rustles up great sandwiches in a TOP END selective as well.
The Super U Hypermarket (La Salette Rd; h9am-
lovely grassy garden. Le Capitaine (%263 6867; Royal Rd; mains from Rs 280; Zanzibar (%263 3265; Royal Rd; admission Rs 100;
8.30pm Mon-Sat, 9am-1.30pm Sun) sells almost every-
Crok Chaud (%269 1313; Royal Rd; salads & sandwiches hlunch & dinner) This is a popular place serving h11.30pm-5am Mon-Sat) There’s a nicely intimate,
thing self-caterers could want. You can also
Rs 120; h7am-5pm Mon-Sat, 7am-noon Sun) The best good standard seafood and fish dishes in a clubby atmosphere to this small bar-disco
buy groceries and other essentials at Grand
coffee in town, hands down, and a damn fine pleasant convivial space that combines style decked out with sofas and African artefacts.
Baie Store (Royal Rd) and Store 2000 (Royal Rd), and
little patisserie, this roadside gem is a great with informality and great bay views. Fresh The most relaxed place in town.
there’s a good vegetable shop (Royal Rd) at the
place to start the day, indulge in a mid-morn- lobster is the pick of the menu, while other
west end of town.
ing cake or have a nice lunch. delicious mains include whole crab cooked
For a real treat, L’Épicerie Gourmand (Royal
Shopping
La Vieille Rouge (%518 0579; La Salette Rd; mains in white wine, and lobster ravioli with fresh Sunset Boulevard (Royal Rd) This shopping com-
Rd; h9.30am-7pm Mon-Sat, 9am-noon Sun) is a treas-
Rs 150; h10am-midnight) The Red Snapper isn’t mushroom and cucumber quenelle. Reserva- plex is home to chic boutiques including
ure-trove of imported delicacies including
exactly a find, but it’s one of Grand Baie’s tions are essential in the evening. knitwear specialists Floreal, Maille St and
cheese, ham and pâté. It also sells luscious
more reliable budget eateries. You’ll find a Paparazzi (%263 8836; Sunset Boulevard; pizzas from Shibani; Harris Wilson for menswear; and
cakes and pastries and ice cream.
standard selection of Creole curries, Chinese Rs 200, mains from Rs 300; hlunch & dinner) This smart Hémisphère Sud for fabulous leather goods.
dishes, fresh fish and so forth. It’s all tasty and pizza restaurant on the second floor of Sunset Cheaper clothing stores, such as Red Snapper
comes in decent portions, although the set Boulevard (on the non-bay side) is a winner. Drinking and IV Pl@y, are concentrated in and around
menu at Rs 450 seems a little steep. It’s far pricier than any other pizzeria in Mau- Alchemy (%269 1137; La Salette Rd; h8am-midnight) the Super U Hypermarket.
ritius, but the quality suggests why. There’s A convivial little bar attracting a mixed Grand Baie Bazaar (h9.30am-4.30pm Mon-Sat, 9am-
MIDRANGE free delivery if you’re feeling lazy. crowd of locals and tourists with its cheap noon Sun) This craft market off Royal Rd has a
Don Camillo (%263 8540; Royal Rd; pizzas Rs 170-290, oIguana Lounge (%263 5758; Royal Rd; mains prices and retro soundtrack. Saturday is usu- broad range of Mauritian and Malagasy crafts.
pasta Rs 150-220; hdinner daily, lunch Mon-Sat; a) De- from Rs 350; hlunch & dinner) Next to Fusion (see ally séga night – this is a good place to catch Prices aren’t fixed, but it’s not expensive and
spite its unpromising location beside the Cal- below) and incongruously situated facing an a performance outside the big hotels. there’s minimal hassling from vendors.
tex petrol station, Don Camillo is a great place Esso garage, Iguana Lounge is one of our fa- B52 (%263 0214; La Salette Rd; h10am-midnight To purchase some original art, visit the
to taste real pizza. In the evening it’s positively vourite places in town. For upscale Mexican – Mon-Sat) This large, popular spot serves up studio of Françoise Vrot (%263 5118; www.tropic
buzzing – either get there early or reserve. excellent burritos and chili con carne – look great cocktails all day long in its al fresco scope.com; Reservoir Rd; h10am-1pm & 3-6.30pm) to
Luigi’s (%269 1125; Royal Rd; pizzas & pasta Rs 170-280; no further. Reserve a table in the charming setting back from the main coastal road. see her expressive portraits of women field-
hlunch & dinner Tue-Sun) Classic little trattoria back garden as they’re hard to come by. Lotus on the Square (% 263 3251; Royal Rd; workers; or head to Galerie Vaco Baissac (%263
serving authentic pizza and pasta dishes plus Fusion (%269 1338; Royal Rd; mains Rs 400; hdin- h9.30am-5pm Mon-Sat) The garden of this small, 3106; Dodo Square, Royal Rd, Grand Baie; h9.30am-7pm
a range of daily specials, such as seafood gnoc- ner) Possibly the most self-consciously fash- arty café on the road to Pereybère makes a Mon-Sat) to buy one of Vaco Baissac’s instantly
chi. Make sure you leave room for one of the ionable dining option in Grand Baie, Fusion nice place to linger over a latte or cappuc- recognisable works.
scrumptious deserts. looks just as it sounds – flash, minimalist, cino. It also does refreshing fruit juices and
Le Tandoor (%263 1378; Royal Rd; www.letandoor sleek and a little intimidating. You’ll see the homemade sorbets in unusual flavours such Getting There & Away
.com; mains Rs 200; hlunch & dinner) Excellent In- smart set out for dinner here, sampling fu- as tamarind, basil and cinnamon. There are no direct buses to Grand Baie from
dian cooking makes Le Tandoor stand out sion-flavoured Mauritian-Asian cooking. La Rhumerie (% 263 7664; h 7am-midnight) the airport, so it’s necessary to change in Port
amid some stiff competition in Grand Baie. Ebisu (% 263 1035; Royal Rd; mains from Rs 400; Friendly bar with a lethal selection of rhum Louis and you have to transfer between two
Even though it’s located on the main road, hlunch & dinner) Sharing the same site and arrangés (flavoured rums); Rs 70 a shot or bus stations to do so. Almost all people will
there’s quite a buzz each evening (reserva- management as La Langouste Grisée (see Rs 300 for five. have a transfer provided by their hotel and
MAURITIUS 78 N O R T H MAU R I T I U S • • N o r t h e r n I s l a n d s lonelyplanet.com lonelyplanet.com N O R T H MAU R I T I U S • • Pe re y b è re 79

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companies (p73). Prices start at Rs 1000 per geckos and Bojer’s skinks are also found
DEAD AS A DODO person, including lunch. Dive centres in here.
Illustrations from the logbooks of the first ships to reach Mauritius show hundreds of plump flight- Grand Baie (p74) also offer dive trips around
less birds running down to the beach to investigate the newcomers. Lacking natural predators, these islands. PEREYBÈRE
these giant relatives of the pigeon were easy prey for hungry sailors, who named the bird dodo, The rapidly developing northern neighbour of
meaning ‘stupid’. It took just 30 years for passing sailors and their pets or pests – dogs, monkeys, Île Ronde & Île aux Serpents Grand Baie, Pereybère (peu-ray-bear) enjoys
pigs and rats – to drive the dodo to extinction; the last confirmed sighting was in the 1660s. Île Ronde (Round Island) and Île aux Ser- a relaxed pace and old-world simplicity you
Just as surprising as the speed of the dodo’s demise is how little evidence remains that the pents (Snake Island) are two significant nature won’t find in many places on the north coast.
bird ever existed. A few relics made it back to Europe during the 18th century – a dried beak reserves about 20km and 24km respectively This, however, is set to change as develop-
ended up at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, while the University of Oxford in England from Mauritius. It is not possible to land on ment continues apace. Unlike Grand Baie
managed to get hold of a whole head and a foot – but until recently our knowledge of the dodo them. Ironically, Île Ronde is not round and there’s a great beach here, which is why it’s
was mainly based on sketches by 17th-century seamen. has snakes, while Île aux Serpents is round a popular place to base a trip from. With the
However, in 1865 local schoolteacher George Clark discovered a dodo skeleton in a marshy area and has no snakes; the theory is that an early recent addition of Pereybère’s first boutique
on the site of what is now the international airport. The skeleton was reassembled by scientists cartographer simply made a mistake. hotel and the growing number of restaurants,
in Edinburgh, and has formed the basis of all subsequent dodo reconstructions, one of which is Île Ronde covers roughly 170 hectares and watch this space, as the town is clearly set for
on display in the Natural History Museum in Port Louis. scientists believe it has more endangered big things.
For the full story of the dodo’s demise, read Errol Fuller’s fascinating book Dodo: From Extinc- species per square kilometre than anywhere
tion to Icon. else in the world. Many of the plants, such as Information
the hurricane palm (of which one lonely tree Pereybère boasts an efficient internet café,
remains) and the bottle palm, are unique to the Hard Drive Café (%263 1076; Royal Rd; per min Rs
for others arriving after a 12-hour flight, we BICYCLE the island. 2; h8am-9.30pm). The Mauritius Commercial Bank
definitely suggest taking a cab – or better still, Many hotels and guesthouses can arrange The endemic fauna includes the keel-scaled (MCB; Royal Rd) has an exchange bureau (h8am-
ordering one in advance via the hotel. bicycle hire. Rates vary, but expect to pay be- boa and the burrowing boa (possibly extinct), 6pm Mon-Sat, 9am-noon Sun) open outside regular
Express buses run directly between Im- tween Rs 100 and Rs 150 per day, or less if you three types of skink and three types of gecko. banking hours.
migration Square in Port Louis and Grand hire for several days. Most of the local tour Among the sea birds that breed on the island
Baie every half-hour, terminating near Cyber operators have bikes for rent; just walk down are the wedge-tailed shearwater, the red-tailed Activities
Pirate on Royal Rd. Nonexpress buses en Royal Rd and see what’s on offer. tropicbird and the gadfly (or Round Island) Most people come to Pereybère simply to un-

ὄὄ
route to Cap Malheureux will also drop you petrel. Naturalist Gerald Durrell gives a very wind beside the beautiful azure lagoon. The
in Grand Baie. Buses between Pamplemousses NORTHERN ISLANDS graphic description of the island in his book swimming is good here and the roped-off
and Grand Baie leave roughly every hour. Coin de Mire, Île Plate & Îlot Gabriel Golden Bats and Pink Pigeons. area is particularly safe for children. When
For taxi rides from Grand Baie, expect to The islands closest to the northern tip of Mauri- The smaller Île aux Serpents (42 hectares) the weekend crowds get too much, there
pay around Rs 200 to Trou aux Biches, Rs 500 tius – Coin de Mire, Île Plate and Îlot Gabriel – is a renowned bird sanctuary. The birds re- are quieter beaches a short stroll away at
to Port Louis and Rs 800 to the airport. A re- are popular day trips from Grand Baie. siding on the island include the sooty tern, Pointe d’Azur.

ὄὄ
ὄ ὄὄ
turn trip to Pamplemousses, including waiting The distinctive Coin de Mire (Gunner’s the lesser noddy, the common noddy and There’s also good snorkelling offshore. The
time, should set you back Rs 500 or so. Quoin), 4km off the coast, was so named be- the masked (blue-footed) booby. Nactus best coral can be found directly off the public
cause it resembles the quoin or wedge used
Getting Around to steady the aim of a cannon. The island is PEREYBÈRE 0
0 1 mile
2 km

CAR now a nature reserve and home to a number


There are numerous car-rental companies in of rare species, such as the red-tailed tropic- A Pointe
d'Azur
B C D

ὄὄ
ὄὄ

Bain Bœuf To Cap
Grand Baie, so you should be able to bargain, bird and Bojer’s skink. It’s hard to get here as INDIAN Beach Malheureux SLEEPING
(3km) Bruyère.......................................6 B2
especially if you’re renting for several days. landing is often difficult. You’ll need to visit OCEAN Casa Florida...............................7 C1
B13
Prices generally start at around Rs 1200 per on an organised tour, and even then you may 1
Cases Fleuries.............................8 B2
Mt Côte d'Azur Hotel......................9 B2
day for a small hatchback. Find out whether have to be content with visiting another island

Rd
Or Hibiscus Hotel..........................10 A2
eb

al
La
the management of your hotel or guesthouse if the weather changes. Despite its striking

y
7 Krissy's Apartments..................11 B2

Ro
15
Le Beach Club...........................12 B1
has a special discount agreement with a local shape there’s not much to see here anyway 19 Les Bougainvilliers....................13 B2
company. Otherwise, try one of the agents – it’s the kind of place that looks far better Pereybère
Beach 12 20 L'Escala....................................14
Ocean Beauty...........................15
A2
B1
listed here. Motorbikes of 50cc and 100cc are from far away. Pointe 1
4
EATING
widely available in Grand Baie; rental charges Most operators take you to Île Plate, 7km Église 16
17 3
Caféteria Pereybère..................16 B2
21
hover at around Rs 500 per day, less if you further north, which offers good snorkelling. 22 13 Monop'.................................(see 20)
9 11 6 INFORMATION Panou Panou............................17 B2
rent for several days. Îlot Gabriel is a pretty island lying within Be Hard Drive Café.........................1 B2 Pereybère Café........................18 A2
10 18 ac
Europcar (%263 7948; www.europcar.mu; Royal Rd) the coral reef just east of Île Plate and is a 2 h
La
MCB..........................................2 A2 Sea Lovers Restaurant...............19 B1
Wang Thai...............................20 B1
2 8
GBC Car Rental (%263 7845; www.gbccar.mu; popular lunch stop for day cruises. 14 SIGHTS & ACTIVITIES
d

Royal Rd) Boats to the islands depart from Grand To Grand Dolphin Diving...........................3 B2 DRINKING
R

Baie (1km)
al

Malyra Tours...........................(see 2) Julie's Club...............................21 B2


y

Keiffel Tours (%263 8226; keiffeltour@intnet.mu; Baie. You can book through almost any of the
Ro

Ocean Spirit Diving....................4 B2 Murphy's Irish Pub.................(see 19)


Surya Ayurvedic Spa..................5 A2 Palm Beach Café......................22 A2
Royal Rd) local tour agents or directly with the cruise 5
MAURITIUS 80 N O R T H MAU R I T I U S • • Pe re y b è re Book accommodation online at lonelyplanet.com lonelyplanet.com N O R T H MAU R I T I U S • • C a p M a l h e u re u x 81

MAURITIUS
beach (but watch out for glass-bottomed boats Les Bougainvilliers (%/fax 263 8807; studio/apt Rs The recently refitted Hibiscus boasts thickly Drinking & Entertainment
and water-skiers). 1100/1200; a) Swathed in bougainvillea flow- vegetated gardens, a super pool and pri- Pereybère is far quieter than neighbouring
Divers can organise expeditions through ers, this homely place offers a broad range vate beach of sorts (although there’s quite Grand Baie (where you should head if you’re
Ocean Spirit Diving (%563 0376; Royal Rd; gringo of clean (if slightly oddly furnished) studios a bit of rock to negotiate). Accommoda- seeking some nightlife), though there are a few
spirit@yahoo.mu; h8am-8pm Mon-Sat, 8am-noon Sun) and apartments with up to three bedrooms. tion is in clean, comfortable rooms in options for a quiet drink or two.
and Dolphin Diving (%263 9428; gurrobyj@hotmail Currently only half have air-con, but nearly all three-storey blocks. Julie’s Club (%269 0320; Royal Rd; h11am-midnight)
.com; Stephen Rd; h8am-3pm Mon-Sat). have kitchens. The management was building Relaxed and friendly bar with live music or
Further activities and tours can be booked a restaurant at the time of our last visit. Eating some other event most Friday and Saturday
through Malyra Tours (%263 6274; www.villamalyra Casa Florida (%263 7371; www.casaflorida.net; Mont Pereybère Café (%263 8700; Royal Rd; mains Rs 90- nights (including live séga).
.com; Royal Rd). Oreb Lane; s/d incl breakfast Rs 1040/1270, apt from Rs 1630; 150, set menus from Rs 320; hlunch & dinner) This Murphy’s Irish Pub (%263 6299; Royal Rd; h11am-
For some indulgent relaxation, head to the pas) This place is great value for money, popular restaurant across the road from the midnight) What were the odds that Mauritius’
very smart Surya Ayurvedic Spa (%263 1637; www with huge, attractive grounds and a selection public beach offers outdoor and indoor din- first Irish pub would land in tiny Pereybère?
.spasurya.com; Royal Rd; h9am-8pm) to treat your- of sweet, spacious rooms, all very basically ing amid Chinese décor and serves up excel- Perhaps more suited to Grand Baie, Murphy’s
self to some Indian massage or a steam in furnished but comfortable with balconies and lent-value Chinese fare. Reservations are a makes an unusual bedfellow for the swanky
the hammam. TV. There’s a bar and restaurant, with séga on must for dinner. Sea Lovers Restaurant, run by the same team.
Saturday nights. Panou Panou (%269 1457; Royal Rd; mains Rs 150- In true Irish-pubs-abroad style, it looks noth-
Sleeping 200; hlunch & dinner Mon-Sat) This friendly place ing like an Irish pub, but has cold beer and
While there are a few larger hotels on the MIDRANGE serves up seafood and grills in an open big-screen sports.
beach side of the main road, the majority of Le Beach Club (%263 5104; www.le-beachclub.com; Royal bar space on the main road opposite the Palm Beach Café (%263 5821; Royal Rd; h11.30am-
accommodation here is made up of charm- Rd; studio from Rs 2000, apt from Rs 3500; a) This com- public beach. 8pm Tue-Sun) The place to sip a coffee or fresh
ing guesthouses and little hotels in the back plex of studios and two-bedroom apartments Caféteria Pereybère (%263 8539; Royal Rd; mains juice lulled by the sound of the waves. It also
streets, a short walk from the town centre and is one of the few places on the seafront and has Rs 180-260; h10.30am-10pm) This friendly all-day serves snacks and light meals.
public beach. a great little beach, perfect for swimming. The café-restaurant behind the public beach of-
units are furnished in bright tropical colours. fers grilled fish, octopus curry, and steak and Getting There & Around
BUDGET It’s worth paying a bit extra for a balcony and chips from an extensive menu. Portions are Buses between Port Louis and Cap Malheu-
L’Escala (%263 7379; lescala@intnet.mu; Royal Rd; studio Rs sea views. Be aware that reception closes at on the small side. reux stop in Pereybère as well as Grand Baie.
500-800, apt from Rs 1000; a) The pleasant atmos- 5pm during the week, at 2pm on Saturday and Wang Thai (%263 4050; Royal Rd; mains Rs 180; Services run roughly every 30 minutes.
phere here somewhat compensates for very all day Sunday, so arrange your arrival with hdinner daily, lunch Tue-Sun; a) Long the best You can rent cars, motorbikes and bicycles
basic rooms, with almost nothing save the them in advance if you’re coming in outside restaurant in town and a pioneer of authen- through the local tour agents. Cars start at Rs
very barest of essentials in them. However, these times. tic Thai food in Mauritius, Wang Thai is a 600 per day and motorbikes at Rs 400 for a
it’s cheap and the owners mean well. Côte d’Azur Hotel (%263 8320; www.hotelcotedazur sophisticated, airy place with Buddha statues 50cc or 100cc bike. Pedal bikes cost upwards
Bruyère (%263 7316; dod.chettiar@intnet.mu; Beach .net; Royal Rd; d/studio/apt from Rs 2200/2600/3000; a) and raw silks setting the scene for surpris- of Rs 100 per day. Most of Grand Baie’s car-
Lane; 1/2 r apt from Rs 700/900; a) There are just A choice of extremely well-equipped hotel- ingly affordable Thai cuisine. Treat your hire companies will also drop off and pick up
three delightful apartments in this family style rooms and one- and two-bedroom apart- tastebuds to such classics as tom yum thalay cars in Pereybère.
home of a charming Scottish-Mauritian ments in a modern block on the main road. (lemongrass-laced seafood soup), green cur-
couple; all are simply but tastefully fur- All come with air-con, private safe, satellite ries and phad thai (mixed fried noodles). CAP MALHEUREUX
nished with kitchenettes and TVs. It’s in a TV and phone, while some boast a CD player, Sea Lovers Restaurant (%263 6299; restosealovers@ The northern edge of Mauritius has stunning
quiet residential area close to the beach and Jacuzzi and a washing machine. yahoo.com; mains Rs 300-600; hlunch & dinner; a) views out to the islands off the coast be-
town centre, the last, unmarked house on a Ocean Beauty (%263 6000; www.ocean.mu; Pointe This is by far the smartest restaurant in yond, most obviously of the dramatic slopes
no-through road. d’Azur; r incl breakfast from Rs 5000; ais) Devel- Pereybère, with its gorgeous terrace over- of Coin de Mire. Although it feels like rather
Cases Fleuries (%263 8868, casefle@intnet.mu; Beach oped by the people who own Ocean Villas looking the public beach and stylish wooden a backwater today, ‘Cape Misfortune’ (thus
Lane; studio from Rs 1000, apt from Rs 1300; a) There’s in Grand Baie, Ocean Beauty is a boutique furniture and décor, but when we ate here named for the number of ships that found-
something surprisingly rarefied in the air hotel aimed squarely at honeymooners. the service was almost comedically messy. ered on the rocks here) is a place of great
here considering the perfectly reasonable This is boutique basic though, which means While the food was excellent – rich seafood historical importance for Mauritius: it was
prices. A variety of studios and apartments the rooms are stylish and atmospheric, but and delicious fish imaginatively cooked – here that the British invasion force finally
for up to six people are set in a flower-filled there’s very little else to the hotel – even staff the long waits between courses, the regular defeated the French in 1810 and took over
garden, and the crowd is a wealthy French are hard to come across sometimes. Despite arrival at our table of another table’s order the island.
one for the most part. this, it’s a great spot for romance; breakfast and the fact that not once did the same A little further on lies the minuscule fish-
Krissy’s Apartments (%263 8859, limfat@intnet is served on your balcony and there’s direct waiter come to our table made for a disap- ing village also known as Cap Malheureux,
.mu; Beach Lane; studio/apt from Rs 1050/1600; a) This access to the lovely town beach. Come here pointing dining experience. On a different with its much-photographed church, the red-
secure, well-run budget complex consists of for romance and fun rather than pampering, night with better service this could be a roofed Notre Dame Auxiliatrice. It’s worth
three studios and eight apartments, all with and beware of the pool that plays Enya at you superb place. a quick peek inside for its intricate wood-
self-catering facilities. A cleaner comes once while you swim. Self-caterers should head for Monop’ (Royal work and a holy-water basin fashioned out
every three days, but the whole place is clean Hibiscus Hotel (% 263 8554; www.hibiscushotel. Rd; h9am-7pm Mon-Sat, 7.30am-noon Sun) situated of a giant clamshell. A sign strictly prohibits
and good value. com; Royal Rd; s/d with half board Rs 5850/8600; as) beneath Wang Thai. newly-weds ‘faking’ a church wedding for
MAURITIUS 82 N O R T H MAU R I T I U S • • G r a n d G a u b e Book accommodation online at lonelyplanet.com lonelyplanet.com N O R T H MAU R I T I U S • • Pa m p l e m o u s s e s 83

MAURITIUS
the photographers here – really, some peo- Eating pleasant surprise. It’s small enough not to be PAMPLEMOUSSES
ple, eh? You can attend mass here at 6pm Outside the hotel restaurants there’s just a few overwhelming, yet offers all the services and Most visitors to northern Mauritius take
on Saturday and 9am on Sunday. eating options in the area. comforts required for luxury: two pools, a the time to visit Pamplemousses for its fa-
Heading around the coast the landscape Kanaco (Map p67; %262 8378; mains from Rs 120-150; couple of restaurants, a Seven Colour’s ‘well- mous botanical gardens, which are worth a
becomes wilder and more rugged. In be- hlunch & dinner) Opposite a Tamil temple, Ka- ness’ spa, plenty of entertainment and activi- diversion if you fancy an afternoon away
tween the rocky coves and muddy tidal naco is a very friendly, clean, and welcoming ties, and a kids club. The style is colonial, from the beach. Officially known as the Sir
creeks a clutch of hotels occupy the few de- family-run place specialising in Mauritian although the atmosphere is very relaxed. The Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Gar-
cent beaches. They offer a perfect hideaway cuisine and seafood. rooms are stylishly fitted out and spacious, dens (occasionally referred to as the Royal
for those who want to get away from it all. Le Coin de Mire Resto Bar (Map p67; %262 8070; all with sea views, and there’s a small but Botanical Gardens), they feature a stunning
mains from Rs 180; hlunch & dinner) Opposite the attractive beach. variety of endemic and foreign plant spe-
Sleeping church in Cap Malheureux village, this place Legends (Map p67; %698 9800; www.naiade.com; s/ cies. The nearby decommissioned Beau Plan
Kuxville (Map p67; %262 7913; www.kuxville.de; stu- offers a huge range of dishes, from omelettes d with half board from Rs 13,000/18,500; pais) sugar factory has also been converted into a
dios from Rs 2600, apt from Rs 4200) There’s a huge and fried rice to wild-boar curry. The food is This very large, stylish newer establish- fascinating museum.
choice of accommodation on offer at this simple but decent, and service and the view ment enjoys an idyllic location miles from The town itself was named for the
perennially popular German-run apartment from the upstairs dining room are other the mass tourism found further down the grapefruit-like citrus trees that the Dutch
complex about 1.5km west of Cap Malheu- good reasons to come. coast. Guests here are welcomed with a introduced to Mauritius from Java. It has
reux village. Accommodation is in impec- drum-banging ceremony, and have the a typically Mauritian feel and is a million
cably clean studios or apartments sleeping Getting There & Away run of the pretty bay and the hotel’s well- miles away from Grand Baie or Trou aux
up to four people; ‘gardenside’ units are in Buses run roughly every half hour between appointed surroundings. The hotel is Feng Biches, although there are no other sights.
a newer compound across the road. There’s Port Louis’ Immigration Square bus station Shui themed (God help us), but don’t be
a fine little beach and a small dive centre as and Cap Malheureux, via Grand Baie. A taxi distracted by the waffle about metal ele- Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical
well as various other water sports. to Port Louis will cost at least Rs 600, to the ments, Chi flow or the mirror being a Gardens
Coin de Mire Hotel (Map p67; %262 7302; www airport Rs 1000. ‘reflection of serenity’ – at the end of the Don’t be put off if you’ve never been par-
.coindemire-hotel.com; s/d with half board from Rs 3000/4800, day Legends is a smart beach hotel whose ticularly interested in botany before coming
superior rooms Rs 4600/6000; as) This charming GRAND GAUBE marketing people have just got a little bit here – along with London’s Kew Gardens
place is affordable and relatively comfortable. Grand Gaube is where the development of over-excited. the SSR Botanical Gardens (Map p67; admission free;
The gardens are pleasant and the rooms are northern Mauritius currently ends, although h8.30am-5.30pm) are one of the best places in
fine, although there’s only air-con and TVs it has itself become the latest flash point for Getting There & Away the world to be introduced to a huge variety
in the superior rooms. There are two pools, a hotel building in recent years. Despite this, Buses run every 15 minutes or so between of plants, trees and flowers. It’s also one of the
restaurant, a bar (with live entertainment, in- it remains a tiny fishing village with a good Port Louis’ Immigration Sq bus station and most popular tourist attractions in Mauritius
cluding séga) and a range of water activities. beach about 6km east of Cap Malheureux. Grand Gaube. and easily reached from almost anywhere on
The small rather unimpressive beach is just Beyond the small rocky bays of Grande A taxi to Port Louis will cost around Rs the island.
the other side of the main road but trans- Gaube there are almost no beaches until a 500, to Grand Baie Rs 300 and to the airport Named after Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam,
port to Pereybère and Grand Baie is simple: long way down the east coast, making any Rs 1000. the first prime minister of independent
the bus stops outside the hotel. Now part of trip beyond here an illuminating glimpse
the Veranda Group, you’ll need to book in into traditional Mauritian life without the
advance to stay here. tourists. In 1744 the St Géran foundered PAUL & VIRGINIE
Paradise Cove Hotel (Map p67; % 204 4000; off Grand Gaube in a storm, inspiring Mauritius’ most popular folk tale tells the story of two lovers, Paul and Virginie, who encounter
www.paradisecovehotel.com; s/d with half board from Rs the famous love story Paul et Virginie, by tragedy when the ship that is carrying Virginie founders on the reef. Although Paul swims out
17,000/22,500; pais) Fully renovated in Bernardin de St-Pierre (see the boxed text, to the wreck to save her, Virginie modestly refuses to remove her clothes to swim ashore, and
2003, Paradise Cove is a five-star boutique opposite). drowns; Paul dies of a broken heart shortly after.
resort aimed at honeymooners. Terribly Inland from Grand Gaube, the landscape The story was written by Bernardin de St-Pierre in the 18th century, but was inspired by
understated but as utterly luxurious as its is open and windswept, the cane fields rap- a real-life tragedy that took place some years earlier. In 1744, the ship St Géran was wrecked
name suggests, it’s built on an attractive idly being built over with modern housing during a storm off Île d’Ambre, to the southeast of Grand Gaube, with almost 200 lives lost.
small cove – the beach is at the end of an estates. There’s nothing specific to see in Among them were two female passengers who refused to undress to swim ashore and were
inlet from the sea, which gives it remark- the area, but it has a distinctly Mauritian dragged down by the weight of their clothes. The true story is more a tragedy of social mores
able privacy. Other great touches include a atmosphere, a world away from the tourist than one of romance!
golf course, tennis courts, free water sports, developments on the west coast. The St Géran was carrying a horde of Spanish money and machinery from France for the
a dive centre, brightly painted and delightful island’s first sugar refinery. A French dive expedition explored the wreck in 1966 and many of
rooms and ‘love nests’ on the promontory Sleeping & Eating their finds are on display in Mahébourg’s National History Museum and the Blue Penny Museum
overlooking the northern islands. With three Veranda Paul & Virginie (Map p67; % 266 9700; in Port Louis.
restaurants, a Cinq Mondes spa and award- http://paul-et-virginie-hotel.com; s/d with half board You’ll run into Paul and Virginie everywhere in Mauritius. The statue by Prosper d’Épinay is
winning gardens, this stylish place is a great from Rs 3600/4800; pais) The longest- perhaps the most famous memorial. The original is in the Blue Penny Museum and there’s a
destination for couples. established hotel in Grande Gaube is a copy near the town hall in Curepipe.
MAURITIUS 84 N O R T H MAU R I T I U S • • Pa m p l e m o u s s e s lonelyplanet.com lonelyplanet.com C E N T R A L MAU R I T I U S • • H i k i n g t h e C e n t r a l P l a t e a u & B l a c k R i v e r G o r g e s 85

MAURITIUS
Mauritius, the gardens also house the fu- The gardens have two entrances, both on HIKING THE CENTRAL PLATEAU &
nerary platform where he was cremated.
His ashes were scattered on the Ganges in
the west side. The main gate (supposedly sent
all the way from Crystal Palace in London)
CENTRAL MAURITIUS BLACK RIVER GORGES
The mountain ranges fringing the Central
India. is the more southerly, opposite the church. The island’s mountainous centre is often Plateau offer a variety of rambles and longer
The plants are gradually being labelled The second is in the northwest corner beside overlooked by visitors seeking a quick fix hikes. One of the most popular is the excellent
and map-boards installed, but this is still the car park. of sun and sand, which is a shame as the but steep ascent of Le Pouce, on the plateau’s
very patchy and thus the gardens are really Labourdonnais’ old mansion Mon Plaisir magical mountains, the Black River Gorges northern edge. To the west near Rose Hill,
best seen with a guide (up to four people/10 (hclosed Monday) contains a free exhibition National Park and the bustling towns of the Corps de Garde is more of a challenge but
people Rs 50/Rs 40 per person for an hour’s of photographs and is well worth a look. Central Plateau all make for very worth- equally rewarding.
tour), as you’ll miss many of the most inter- To complete the picture there are some ani- while visits. As you can drive anywhere in The most varied hiking, however, is to be
esting species if you go alone. Alternatively, mals in open pens including giant tortoises Mauritius in under an hour, it’s well worth found in the beautiful highland area south-
you can buy an excellent guidebook (Rs 225) and deer. hiring a car and exploring the country’s in- west of Curepipe, where the Black River
at the booths (h8.30am-5.30pm Tue-Sun) located terior for a day or two. Walkers and bird- Gorges National Park offers a range of envi-
just inside the two entrances, or from tourist L’Aventure du Sucre watchers will love the Black River Gorges ronments from dry lowlands to the wet, for-
shops all over the island before you come. Just across the motorway from the botanical National Park, climbers and hikers will love est-cloaked peaks. Surrounded by casuarina
The gardens were started by Mahé de gardens, the former Beau Plan sugar factory the idiosyncratic, almost whimsical nature and conifer trees and tumbling waterfalls, it
Labourdonnais in 1735 as a vegetable plot now houses this excellent museum (Map p67; of Mauritius’ volcanic mountains and any- is like no other part of Mauritius. Of several
for his Mon Plaisir Château, but came into %243 0660; www.aventuredusucre.com; adult/child Rs one who likes bargain hunting will enjoy a hikes traversing the park, the classic route
their own in 1768 under the auspices of 300/150; h9am-5pm). It not only tells the story of trip to Curepipe or Quatre Bornes for the follows the Macchabée Trail down the Black
the French horticulturalist Pierre Poivre. sugar in fascinating detail, but also along the shopping and markets or to Floréal’s textile River Valley to emerge on the west coast.
Like Kew Gardens in England, the gardens way covers the history of Mauritius, slavery, museum. There’s very little else to see in the While Le Pouce and Corps de Garde can
played a significant role in the horticultural the rum trade and much, much more. Allow corridor of towns that runs almost unbroken be reached by bus either from the plateau
espionage of the day. Poivre imported spice at least a couple of hours to do it justice. from Curepipe to Port Louis, but over half towns or Port Louis, accessing the trailheads
plants from around the world in a bid to The original factory was founded in 1797 the population dwells here (drawn by the within the national park will require private
end France’s dependence on Asian spices. and only ceased working in 1999. Most of cool highland air) and it’s about as unlike transport or a taxi ride.
The gardens were neglected between 1810 the machinery is still in place and former picture-postcard Mauritius as can be imag-
and 1849 until British horticulturalist James workers are on hand to answer questions ined, with busy streets, factories, bustling Information
Duncan transformed them into an arbore- about the factory and the complicated proc- shops and traffic everywhere. This is modern In general, hiking information is thin on the
tum for palms and other tropical trees. ess of turning sugar cane into crystals. There Mauritius, whether you like it or not. ground. Your best option is to seek advice
Palms still constitute the most important are also videos and interactive displays as Southwest of Curepipe lies a more appeal- from local people before setting out. The ex-
part of the horticultural display, and they well as quizzes for children. At the end of ing region of lakes and natural parkland. ception is the national park, where wardens at
come in an astonishing variety of shapes and the visit you can taste four of the fifteen The Mare aux Vacoas reservoir is the island’s the two information centres (see p88) can give
forms. Some of the more prominent are the different varieties of unrefined sugar, two largest lake. It is flanked to the west by the some advice on the trails, sell decent maps and
stubby bottle palms, the tall royal palms and of which were invented in Mauritius. Mare Longue and Tamarin Falls reservoirs – organise local guides.
the talipot palms, which flower once after If all that’s set your taste buds working, the latter named after a spectacular series
about 40 years and then die. Other varie- you could sup a glass of sugar cane juice of seven waterfalls immediately north of the Maps
ties include the raffia, sugar, toddy, fever, at Le Fangourin (% 243 0660; mains Rs 150-550; lake – and to the south by Grand Bassin. The two visitor centres sell an excellent na-
fan and even sealing-wax palms. There are h9am-5pm), a stylish café-restaurant in the This crater lake, sacred to Hindus, is one tional park map for Rs 5, which has all the
many other curious tree species on display, grounds of the museum. It specialises in of the most important pilgrimage sites in main trails and landmarks marked on it. The
including the marmalade box tree, the fish sophisticated Creole cuisine and all sorts of the country. IGN map (p138) isn’t completely up to date
poison tree and the sausage tree. sugary delights. but shows most of the tracks and footpaths.
The centrepiece of the gardens is a pond Getting There & Around Roads marked in yellow on this map are gen-
filled with giant Victoria amazonica water Getting There & Away The Central Plateau towns are served by erally just rough tracks, sometimes passable
lilies, native to the Amazon region. Young Pamplemousses can be reached by bus from frequent bus connections with Port Louis. only to 4WD vehicles, but perfectly accept-
leaves emerge as wrinkled balls and unfold Grand Baie, Trou aux Biches, Grand Gaube Other useful routes include the direct serv- able as footpaths. They’re all easy enough
into the classic tea-tray shape up to 2m and Port Louis. Services from Grand Baie ices between Quatre Bornes and Flic en Flac, to follow, but smaller tracks (shown on the
across in a matter of hours. The flowers in and Trou aux Biches run approximately on the west coast, and between Curepipe IGN map as dashed lines) are more diffi-
the centre of the huge leaves open white one every hour and stop near the sugar museum and Mahébourg, to the southeast; the latter cult and may be overgrown, requiring a little
day and close red the next. The lilies are at on the way to the botanical gardens. service passes via the airport. bushbashing.
their biggest and best in the warm summer Buses from Port Louis’ Immigration If you don’t have your own transport, the
months, notably January. Square bus station and Grand Gaube op- easiest way to get around is by taxi. Central Plateau
Various international dignitaries have erate every 10 to 15 minutes. These buses There are no bike or motorbike rental On the northern edge of the Central Plateau,
planted trees in the gardens, including Nel- only stop at the botanical gardens, from outlets in the area. As for cars, companies the prominent thumb-shaped peak known
son Mandela, Indira Gandhi and a host of where it takes about 10 minutes to walk to elsewhere on the island will always deliver as Le Pouce makes a great introduction
British royals. the museum. to your hotel. to walking in Mauritius. It’s an easy hike,
ὄὄ
ὄὄ
MAURITIUS 86 C E N T R A L MAU R I T I U S lonelyplanet.com lonelyplanet.com C E N T R A L MAU R I T I U S • • H i k i n g t h e C e n t r a l P l a t e a u & B l a c k R i v e r G o r g e s 87

MAURITIUS
CENTRAL MAURITIUS 0
0
4 km
2 miles
offering a splendid half-day outing with stadium and follow Cretin Ave, which leads
stunning views over the plateau, and north out into the fields.

ὄὄ
To Grand
A Baie (18km) B C D to Port Louis and the coast. Corps de Garde, The easiest trail to follow begins just
INDIAN to the southwest of Rose Hill, is an impres- beyond the football ground and Hindu
OCEAN sive peak that also makes for an exhilarating crematorium. It runs straight up to the
1 7 half-day hike. red-and-white radar antenna at the top of
PORT
La Nicolière
the ridge. From here, the main track follows
PAMPLEMOUSSES
LOUIS
Montagne
LE POUCE the ridge south, passing a huge perched
Calebasses
(630m)
Montagne
Nouvelle Découverte
The ascent of Le Pouce (812m) is best boulder before reaching a tricky cliff over
Snail
PORT Bon Acceuil tackled from the south, near the town of which you’ll need to scramble. There are
Rock LOUIS Moka (p94). several more hair-raising sections to test
Pieter Both
A3 M2 Domaine Les
Pailles
Le Pouce (832m) The path starts northeast of Moka. To get your courage before you reach the nose
(812m)
there by public transport, hop on a bus head- (719m), which offers amazing views over
Pic des
Junction Guibies ing to Nouvelle Découverte from Curepipe, the plains.
2 A1 Peak
Rose Hill or Port Louis’ Victoria Square bus Allow about three hours for the walk if
Camp Thorel
3 MOKA
station and ask the driver to drop you off you’re starting from the centre of Rose Hill;
Beau
Bassin
12
Moka Circonstance
at the trailhead; services run roughly every 1½ hours if you drive up to the trailhead.
5 half hour. Travelling by car, follow signs
A7
Rivière
To Centre de
Flacq (8km)
for Eureka from the motorway, then take TAMARIN FALLS
Cas B24
2 cad
e the right turn signed to Le Pouce. After These falls, roughly 8km southwest of Cure-
Rose 1 La Dagotière roughly 3km, where the road bends sharply pipe (p90), are awkward to reach but it’s
Riv

Hill Quartier
Militaire to the right, a dirt track (also signed to Le worth the effort for a beautiful, deep, cool
ière

Corps de Garde
PLAINES
(719m)
11 13 WILHEMS B27 Montagne Pouce) heads off east through the sugar- bathe at the bottom of the series of seven
Quatre
3 10 Montagne Blanche
cane fields and marks the beginning of the falls. They are only accessible via a chal-
Te

Bornes (532m)
la Terre
rre

9 8 6 Verdun Hill
(537m)
(504m) Ri
viè
Melrose
track. lenging trail that begins near the Tamarin
re
Candos t e a u Piton du Milieu
du
Bo
After about 700m the path starts zig- Falls reservoir, south of the village of Hen-
Phoenix P l a uc
l Reservoir zagging steeply uphill. A 30-minute climb rietta, but you will have to explore to find
Rouge

r a an
n t Montagne
Ce Blanche brings you out on a saddle, from where you it. It’s best to take one of the local guides
4
get your first views over Port Louis. From usually waiting around Henrietta bus
Vacoas
there it takes another 20 minutes or so walk- station.
See Curepipe Map p90
Floréal ing east along the ridge to reach the base of There are buses to Henrietta from Cure-
Trou aux Sud-Est the ‘thumb’. The final ascent is almost verti- pipe every 20 minutes or so and from Port
Cerfs Crater Curepipe Gr re
and viè
4 e Ri Montagne cal in places; if you don’t feel up to it, never Louis roughly every hour. From Henrietta,

ὈὈὈ
Lagrave
Forest
Side
(638m) Montagne
Laselle
mind – even from the base you get sweeping it’s about a 2km walk to the falls.
Henrietta M2
Simonet
La Marie
views over the whole island.
(632m)
Viewpoints of Eau Bleue
Rather than returning the same way, you Black River Gorges National Park
Tamarin Falls B3 A10 Reservoir can head down to Port Louis, emerging into Mauritius’ sole national park is a spectacu-
Tamarin
Tamarin
Falls
See Black River Gorges the southeastern suburbs of the city. The larly wild expanse of thick forest covering
National Park Map p88
Falls
Reservoir GRAND
SIGHTS & ACTIVITIES path leads steeply down the north side of 3.5% of the island’s surface and home to

ὈὈὈ
British Council..............................1 A3
PORT Centre Charles Baudelaire............2 A3 the ridge from the saddle. Allow about an over 300 species of flowering plants and nine
Mare Longue Nouvelle France
Reservoir Mare aux
Vacoas
Eureka..........................................3 A2 hour for the descent. species of bird unique to Mauritius, includ-
Floreal Square Textile Museum.....4 B4
5 Reservoir Le Réduit.....................................5 A2 ing the famous pink pigeon which is stag-
Maison Le Carne........................(see 2) CORPS DE GARDE ing a very gradual comeback from the brink
Montagne Mauritius Glass Gallery.................6 B3
Perruche M2 Municipality of Beau Bassin-Rose The wedge-shaped massif dominating Rose of extinction.
A9 A10 Hill.........................................(see 2) Hill (p93) offers a very rewarding ascent, It’s possible to drive or take a bus through
Père Laval's Shrine........................7 B1
Rose Belle
though it’s not for anyone with vertigo. the park and stop for great views along the

ὈὈὈ
Black River Gorges
Le Pétrin
Phoenix Brewery........................(see 6)
National Park
To Airport (12km);
Quatre Bornes Central Market.....8 A3 To reach the start of the trail from central way (although you’ll be far from alone), but
To Chamarel
(5km)
Grand
Bassin Grand
Mahébourg (17km)
SLEEPING Rose Hill, follow Dr Maurice Curé St north- the best way to see the park is of course on
El Monaco Hotel..........................9 A3
Bois
Eureka........................................(see 3)
east from the junction with Royal Rd. After foot. A network of hiking trails crisscross the
Montagne
Cocotte Gold Crest Hotel........................10 A3 about 1km, take a right turn into Surver- wild and empty Black River Gorges National
(771m)
6 Mare Tabac EATING
Plaine
Magnien swarnath St (you’ll pass a Tamil temple on Park. While the markings have improved in
SAVANNE
Alexandra
Falls
Piton Savanne
(704m)
Debonairs Pizza........................(see 10) your left) and continue until you hit a stag- recent years and there are good maps avail-
Happy Valley.............................11 A3
Brittania Le Ravin.....................................(see 3) gered junction with the main road. On the able, you should check the route and the
Bassin
Blanc To Souillac (10km); To Souillac
Salaam Bombay..........................12 B2 far side, follow St Anne St up to a second current state of the trails at the information
(8km) Tannar Restaurant......................13 A3
Bel Ombre (12km)
staggered junction near the Hart de Keating centres before setting off. Alternatively, you
ὈὈὈὈὈ
MAURITIUS 88 C E N T R A L MAU R I T I U S • • H i k i n g t h e C e n t r a l P l a t e a u & B l a c k R i v e r G o r g e s lonelyplanet.com lonelyplanet.com C E N T R A L MAU R I T I U S • • H i k i n g t h e C e n t r a l P l a t e a u & B l a c k R i v e r G o r g e s 89

MAURITIUS
BLACK RIVER GORGES NATIONAL PARK 0
0
2 km
1 mile
The second road branches south at the Les national park, passing tiny pockets of indig-
Mares junction. After 3km it passes Bassin enous vegetation dispersed through acacia

ὈὈὈὈὈ
Tamarin To Henrietta (1km);
Falls
Tamarin Falls
Curepipe (5km) Blanc, a classic crater lake surrounded by for- and other introduced forest. Though steep
Grand Rivière
Noire Reservoir
PLAINES
est. Beyond the lake the road zigzags down the in parts, it’s moderately easy and reasonably
Troi Bras
WILHEMS valley to Chamouny and Chemin Grenier. fit walkers should be able to do it in four to
Junction
Montagne
Getting to the trailheads is difficult without five hours.
Ri
viè
Brise Fer
(622m)
Mare aux
Vacoas
your own transport. The best option is to get a The first part of the walk follows the
re
No Reservoir taxi to drop you off and then pick up a bus at Macchabée Trail, a forestry track heading west

ὈὈὈὈὈ
ire Mare Longue
Reservoir
the lower end; the coast road is well covered from Le Pétrin along the ridge to a viewpoint
TAMARIN
Visitors Centre
Montagne
by buses travelling between the main towns. overlooking the Grande Rivière Noire Valley.
Ri
v Perruche There is nowhere to buy food or drinks in From here the route descends precipitously

ière
Petit Rivière
Noire Bl a c
Mac
cha
bée
the park, even at the visitor centres. Make sure along a steep and devilishly slippery track
k Trail du Poste
Piton de la Petite
Rivière Noire
Ri v
er
Start Le Pétrin to Grande
Rivière Noire Hike
you bring plenty of water and energy-boost- for about 1km, emerging on a wider path that
Go
(828m) rg
es
Cratère ing snacks. You’ll also need insect repellent, continues down to the river and, eventually,

ὈὈὈὈὈ
Kanaka
Cham p a g n e
Le Pétrin
Pétrin Information
binoculars for bird-watching, wet-weather to the visitors centre.
P lai ne
Grande Case
Noyale Rivière Noire
Centre gear, and shoes with a good grip. Most people arrange for a taxi to meet
Grand
Piton Falls Radio Tower Bassin Rau Mar The best time to visit the park is during them at the visitors centre. If not, the last
St-Denis Gorges ro n
Chamarel Viewpoint
(744m)
Piton Grand the flowering season between September and 5km is a less interesting but easy stroll
Bassin
Les Mares
(702m) January. Look for the rare tambalacoque or along a sealed road that brings you out on
Rivière Sa
To Bois Chéri
(1km) dodo tree, the black ebony trees and the wild the coast beside the Jade Pavilion restaurant

ὈὈὈὈὈ
Chamarel
Alexandra
va
nn
e
guavas (see the boxed text, p101). Bird-watch- and supermarket at the Trois Bras junction
Falls
Coloured Earths
Montagne
ers should keep an eye out for the Mauritius in Grande Rivière Noire. From here you can
Start Plaine Champagne
Cocotte
(771m)
kestrel, pink pigeon, echo parakeet and Mauri- pick up buses to Quatre Bornes and Port
to Bel Ombre Hike Piton Savanne tius cuckoo-shrike, among other rarities; park Louis.
(704m)
Bassin
Blanc
La Valleé des
Couleurs
wardens can indicate the most likely viewing
M
O spots. For a full list of hikes see the official PLAINE CHAMPAGNE TO BEL OMBRE
N
map – below are two of our favourites. The trailhead for this 16km walk is on the
Rivière

T
A

Curepipe–Chamarel Rd, just under 1km west


G
N

de
of the radio tower that marks the road’s high-
E

LE PÉTRIN TO GRANDE RIVIÈRE NOIRE


s

SA

SAVANNE This is a superb 15km hike that takes you est point. The trail heads due south to Bel
VA

Ga
lets through some of the finest and most scenic Ombre, passing through lovely mixed forests
NN

Choisy
Chamouny countryside in Mauritius. It begins beside the and plantations. After 10km you leave the
E

Pétrin Information Centre and traverses the park and start to cross private land. The last
Chemin Grenier
Baie du Cap

Baie de Cap Rochester


INDIAN Falls GRAND BASSIN
Rivière des To Souillac
OCEAN Bel Ombre Galets (3km)
According to legend, Shiva and his wife Parvati were circling the earth on a contraption made
from flowers when they were dazzled by an island set in an emerald sea. Shiva, who was carry-
may want to hire a guide, which can be done the official map. All the trailheads are clearly ing the Ganges River on his head to protect the world from floods, decided to land. As he did
via the visitors centre. marked and are accessed from one of the so a couple of drops of water sprayed from his head and landed in a crater to form a lake. The
The main visitors centre (h9am-3pm Mon-Fri, two roads running through the park. The Ganges expressed unhappiness about its water being left on an uninhabited island, but Shiva
9am-4pm Sat & Sun) is at the park’s western en- main road runs north–south along the park’s replied that dwellers from the banks of the Ganges would one day settle there and perform an
trance, about 5km southeast of Grande Riv- eastern boundary, past the Pétrin Informa- annual pilgrimage, during which water from the lake would be presented as an offering.
ière Noire (p108). From here it’s possible to tion Centre, then swings westward at Les The dazzling island is, of course, Mauritius; the legendary crater lake is known as Grand Bassin
proceed only on foot into the park proper. Mares to climb up onto the Plaine Cham- (or Ganga Talao). It is a renowned pilgrimage site, to which up to 500,000 of the island’s Hindu
The alternative is the Pétrin Information Centre pagne. There’s a newly constructed viewing community come each year to pay homage to Shiva during the Maha Shivaratri celebrations.
(%507 0128; h8am-3pm Mon-Fri, 8am-11am Sat) at point at Alexandra Falls, from where you This vast festival takes place over three days in February or March (depending on the lunar cycle)
the eastern entrance to the park. Staff at both get a sweeping view over the south coast. and is the largest Hindu celebration outside India.
can advise on the different trails and hand out Sadly though, there’s no view of the falls The most devoted pilgrims walk from their village to the sacred lake carrying a kanvar, a light
fairly sketchy maps. They also sometimes act themselves and you have to make do with wooden frame or arch decorated with paper flowers. Others make their way by coach or car.
as guides. You should make the arrangements the sound alone. About 2km further west is Once there they perform a puja, burning incense and camphor at the lake shore and offering
at least a day or two in advance. Rates start at the Gorges viewpoint, affording spectacular food and flowers.
Rs 1200 a day. views and the company of wild monkeys. Visitors are welcome to attend Maha Shivaratri, but should do so with respect: dress modestly,
There are numerous trails that crisscross After another 10km the road drops to the and remove your shoes before entering temples and holy places.
the park and nine of the best are detailed in coast at Grande Case Noyale.
MAURITIUS 90 C E N T R A L MAU R I T I U S • • C u re p i p e lonelyplanet.com Book accommodation online at lonelyplanet.com C E N T R A L MAU R I T I U S • • C u re p i p e 91

MAURITIUS
stretch meanders along some rather confusing Curepipe is the highest of the plateau towns. Librairie Allot Ltd (%676 1253; Curimjee Arcade, although it’s perfectly possible and won’t
tracks, but a reasonably good sense of direc- At 550m above sea level, temperatures are re- Royal Rd) There’s an excellent range of books, papers and break the bank.
tion will get you to the coast road without too freshingly cool in summer, but the town is often magazines in French and English here, hidden away inside Welcome Hotel (%675 3265; fax 674 7292; 196 Royal
much difficulty. From Bel Ombre, there are swathed in cloud. The damp climate gives the the arcade. Rd; d incl breakfast Rs 550, without toilet Rs 450) This very
buses to Curepipe and Rivière des Galets. buildings an ageing, mildewed quality. Bring Mauritius Commercial Bank (MCB; Cnr Châteauneuf St basic place is friendly enough and the fan-
Allow about four hours for this moderately an umbrella, as it can rain without warning & Royal Rd; h9am-5pm Mon-Sat) Exchange Bureau. cooled rooms are clean and functional, with
easy walk. at any time of year. According to lowlanders, iron bedsteads. It’s a 10-minute walk from the
Curepipe has two seasons: the little season of Sights centre of town.
CUREPIPE big rains and the big season of little rains. TOWN CENTRE Auberge de la Madelon (%670 1885; www.aub
pop 80,000 Overlooking a small park in the centre of ergemadelon.ltd.mu; 10 Sir John Pope Hennessy St; s/d incl
Effectively Mauritius’ second city, Curepipe Orientation Curepipe, the Hôtel de Ville (town hall) is breakfast Rs 600/750; ais) Excellent value and
is a bustling highland commercial centre fa- Curepipe is bisected by Royal Rd, which one of Mauritius’ best surviving examples of centrally located, this well-run place is simple
mous for its rainy weather and clothes shop- runs approximately north–south. Most of colonial-era architecture. Its gable windows, and small, with 15 comfy en-suite rooms and a
ping. Its strange name reputedly stems from the banks, shops and restaurants are on this veranda and the decorative wooden friezes proactive and helpful management. Free wi-fi
the malaria epidemic of 1867 when people street around the junction with Châteauneuf known as dentelles are typical of the style and a small pool area are the latest bonuses
fleeing from lowland Port Louis would ‘cure’ St. Head east along Châteauneuf St for the bus (see p45). The building was moved here for guests.
their pipes of malarial bacteria by smoking station. Most of the sights, such as the Trou from Moka in 1903.
them here, although in fact it’s more likely to aux Cerfs crater and the botanical gardens, are The park’s main draw is a copy in bronze Eating
be named after a fondly remembered town within easy walking distance of the centre. of the famous statue of the fictitious lovers Le Pot de Terre (%676 2204; Pot de Terre Lane; mains
in France. Paul and Virginie by Mauritian sculptor Rs 50-125; h7.30am-8pm Mon-Sat, 7.30am-2pm Sun)
While it will be of limited interest to most Information Prosper d’Épinay (see the boxed text, p83). This local favourite is a great place to meet
visitors, it makes a pleasant half-day excursion The major banks, most with ATMs, are located The original is on display in Port Louis’ Blue locals and a world away from the tourist-
inland from the beach. Shoppers looking for on Royal Rd. Penny Museum (p57). oriented restaurants you’ll find on the coast.
bargain clothes will fare well here and there Digit@l C@ffeine (%670 5335; Sunsheel Centre, Royal Next to the town hall, the stone build- Clouds of smoke and the sound of animated
are a couple of interesting sights, including a Rd; h9.30am-7pm Mon-Sat, 10am-noon Sun) Offers ing with the distinctive neoclassical porch conversations characterise the joint, with a
perfectly formed mini volcanic crater. plenty of PCs with access at Rs 1 per minute. houses the municipal Carnegie Library (%674 simple and tasty menu of sandwiches, grills
2278; h 9.30am-6pm Mon-Fri, 9.30am-3pm Sat). Its and noodles.

ὈὈ
CENTRAL CUREPIPE 0
0
200 m
0.1 miles
collection includes rare books on Mauritius Samraath (%793 1413; Petit Bateau Bldg, 2nd fl,
dating back to the 18th century. Royal Rd; mains Rs 100; hlunch & dinner Mon-Sat, dinner
To Floréal (1.5km);
Sun; a) You really need to know this place
Emile

A St
B C Vacoas (3.5km) D
bert
rges Gui
Geo To Rose Hill (10km);
TROU AUX CERFS is here, but luckily now you do. Down a tiny
Sauzier St

INFORMATION St Port Louis (25km)


Meldrum
About 1km west of central Curepipe, the side street next to the college, this almost-
Abbè
D'E ndra

Digit@l C@ffeine....................(see 16)


Siv
ana

Librarie Allot Ltd....................(see 14)


pin

8
ile Naz
St Trou aux Cerfs is an extinct volcanic crater hidden restaurant is a surprise – delightfully
d

1 St Helène
ay

MCB..........................................1 C2 Sir Virg

ὈὈ ὈὈ
e
lR

Church la C
aille some 100m deep and 1km in circumfer- painted in bright orange and yellow, the
St

ya

St
Ro
Ave

SIGHTS & ACTIVITIES


ence. The bowl is heavily wooded, but from Indian food is superb and the atmosphere
t

6
on S

Botanical Gardens......................2 A3
Sir William Newton

Carnegie Library........................3 D2 the road around the rim – a favourite spot and décor are the best in town. Vegetarians
ours

Hôtel de Ville (Town Hall)..........4 D2


for joggers and walkers – you get lovely will be in heaven here and Chinese cuisine
De C
Edgard Hugues

Paul & Virginie Sculpture...........5 D2 o St


Trou aux Cerfs Remon
Crater Trou aux Cerfs...........................6 A1 views of the plateau. There are benches is also served for those who don’t fancy a
Prom eV D'Arifat
St
enad org Thomy for rest and reflection, and a radar station curry.
e Ge
t St

ὈὈ ὈὈ
to St
Emile Pi 7 Malartic for keeping an electronic eye on cyclone La Potinière (% 676 2648; Sir Winston Churchill St;
St
er
St

Malherbe St
Riv

ssy St 13 16 18 activity. mains from Rs 200, crepes Rs 100-200; hlunch Mon-Sat; a)


Cerfs

enne
Sorney

Pope H
2 Sir John Curepipe’s most obviously upmarket restau-
St

Sir

La
Collage
Riviè

JH

1 10 Eugène Leclezi
o St
BOTANICAL GARDENS rant hides in an unassuming concrete block,
Jer

uneuf St
re

Châtea These well-kept and informal gardens (admis- but inside all is starched linen and gleaming
nin

ierre St urchill St Barclays


gh
Po

De St-P ston Ch Bank 5 19


Sir Win sion free; h8am-6pm May-Sep, 7am-7pm Oct-Apr), with tableware. It serves predominantly French
am
ul

din t 11
Bernar sS
e

17 14
en
St

9 3 4
Koen

Dupin St

12
d their lakes and lawns, provide another pleas- cuisine, with a choice of sweet and savoury

ὈὈ
ar e
D'E

Elizab eth Av 15
lG St Thérèse
ca
ig St

ant spot for some quiet contemplation. They crepes as well as more substantial dishes, and
au

ani Church
ot ford St
inson
St B Commer ch St were created in 1870 to grow plants in need excellent homemade deserts.
Rob ste de Bu
Royal Rd

SLEEPING SHOPPING De la Te
2 Th ér ès e St of a more temperate climate than exists at Le Gaulois (%675 5674; Dr Ferrière St; mains Rs
Vic

Auberge de la Madelon.............7 C2 Curimjee Arcade......................14 C2 Ste


Avrillon St

the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical 300-400; hlunch Mon-Sat) This family-run place
tor

Botanical Welcome Hotel..........................8 D1 Lakepoint Centre.....................15 D2


ia A

Gardens Sunsheel Centre.......................16 C2


3 Gardens in Pamplemousses (p83). is a tiny and unfussy affair, which serves
ve

EATING Voiliers de L'Océan Model Barry St


Clement St

La Potinière................................
St
9 C2 Ships....................................17 C2
A10 George V predominantly Franco-Mauritian cuisine –
oy
Le Gaulois................................10 C2
e o ffr
Le Pot de Terre........................ 11 C2 TRANSPORT d St
Sequar 18 D2
Stadium
Sleeping grilled lobster, Creole-style bouillabaisse,
G
Monoprix Supermarket............ 12 C2 Northbound Bus Brown
Terminal........ To Forest Side (1km);
Unless you’re on business here, it’s hard to prawns in garlic sauce – at rather premium
Mahébourg (30km)
Samraath.................................13 C2 Southbound Bus Terminal........19 D2 steur St
Louis Pa imagine why you’d need to stay in Curepipe, prices just off the main drag.
MAURITIUS 92 C E N T R A L MAU R I T I U S • • A r o u n d C u re p i p e lonelyplanet.com Book accommodation online at lonelyplanet.com C E N T R A L MAU R I T I U S • • R o s e H i l l 93

MAURITIUS
For self-caterers, there’s the Monoprix Super- the hiking trails; for more information, find top-quality garments with almost im- ROSE HILL
market (Royal Rd) in the centre of town. see p87. perceptible flaws selling at low prices; check pop 106,000
carefully though, since quality varies enor- Rose Hill, wedged between Beau Bassin and
Shopping Floréal mously. There’s nothing much else to bring Quatre Bornes in the middle of the Central
Most people come to Curepipe to shop This rather posh suburb northwest of Curepipe you here, however. There’s an internet centre Plateau conurbation, is virtually a suburb of
and few leave without some bargains. Try has become synonymous with the high-qual- on the 2nd floor of the Orchard Centre on Port Louis and a major cultural centre for
busy Châteauneuf St for bargain clothing ity knitwear produced by the Floreal Knitwear St Jean Rd. Mauritius. The town sits at the foot of the
outlets. There are several shopping malls Company. Of particular interest is the Floreal impressive Corps de Garde mountain (see
around the central crossroads. Of these, the Square Textile Museum (Map p86; %698 8011; Swami Sleeping p87 for more about tackling this peak) and
Curimjee Arcade (Royal Rd) contains a collection Sivananda Ave; adults/children Rs 100/50; h9.30am-5.30pm El Monaco Hotel (Map p86; %425 2608; elmo@bow retains a few interesting old buildings from
of upmarket duty-free shops selling clothes Mon-Fri, 9.30am-4pm Sat) and shopping mall on .intnet.mu; St Jean Rd; s/d/t incl breakfast Rs 1200/1400/2000; the colonial era. It also has a reputation as
and souvenirs. Further north, the glitzy new the main road from Curepipe. Some of the ps) Just off the main drag in a quiet a cheap place to shop, particularly for im-
Sunsheel Centre (Royal Rd) is also worth a look. workers who painstakingly put the clothes courtyard with a pool and attractive gar- ported Indian textiles.
There’s a lovely Indian fabric shop on the together will take you step by step through den, the Monaco offers functional but per- Most places of interest are strung out
ground floor and outlets of Habit and Café the commercial knitwear business. There’s fectly decent rooms with fan, bathroom, TV along St Jean Rd, which is Rose Hill’s main
Cotton. The new Lakepoint Centre (Elizabeth also a short video presentation and displays and telephone. thoroughfare. The intersection of St Jean Rd
Ave) is the latest arrival and has the pricier outlining the history not only of knitwear but Gold Crest Hotel (Map p86; %454 5945; www.gold and Vandermeersch St marks the town cen-
clothes shops in it. of clothes and textiles in general. cresthotel.com; St Jean Rd; s/d incl breakfast Rs 1520/1855; tre, where you’ll find the bus station and the
Curepipe is a centre for model-ship You can buy Floreal knitwear in the shop ai) Definitely the best hotel in town and main shopping malls as well as numerous
showrooms and workshops. One such place below the museum; prices are good and probably worth the slight price hike from basic restaurants and food stalls. For tiptop
is Voiliers de L’Océan (%676 6986; voiliers@intneta there’s a wider choice than in Floreal’s other the Monaco, the spanking new Gold Crest Indian snacks, you can’t beat the dhal puris
.mu; Sir Winston Churchill St; h 9am-6pm), which outlets around the island. The mall contains offers all the usual amenities of a business sold by Dewa & Sons (Arab Town market, Royal Rd) to
has a good selection. You can see the ships several equally upmarket clothes boutiques, hotel, from smart, comfortable rooms to a the south of the centre; they’re reputed to be
being made between 8am and 5pm Monday and there’s even a café on hand should you good restaurant. the best on the island.
to Friday. need sustenance. It serves slightly pricey but
good quality cakes and light lunches such as Eating
Getting There & Away salads and homemade quiche. Debonairs Pizza (Map p86; %425 2608; St Jean Rd; Sights
Curepipe is an important transport hub, pizzas from Rs 120; hlunch & dinner) Next door to Two of the most important cultural centres
with frequent bus services to Port Louis Phoenix the Gold Crest Hotel is another outlet of the in Mauritius are located in Rose Hill. The
(Victoria Square), Mahébourg, Centre de This industrial centre is the home of the Phoe- South African pizza and sub pedlars, Debo- British Council (% 403 0200; general.enquiries@mu
Flacq, Moka and surrounding towns such as nix Brewery (Map p86), located beside the M2 nairs – a great place for a quick lunch. .britishcouncil.org; St Jean Rd; h11am-5pm Tue-Fri, 9am-
Floréal, Phoenix, Quatre Bornes and Rose motorway, which brews Phoenix Beer and Tannar Restaurant (Map p86; %465 3140; St Jean 2.30pm Sat) is across the main road from the
Hill. There are two terminals – the north- Blue Marlin. While Phoenix doesn’t hold Rd; mains Rs 150-200; hlunch & dinner) This smart bus station. It has a regular programme of
bound and the southbound. Most services much of interest for visitors (sadly the brewery oasis amid the chaos of St Jean Rd is defi- events in English and a good library.
go from the northbound (Port Louis, Rose is not open to the public), the Mauritius Glass nitely the place to go for a high-quality In- Behind Maison Le Carne is the Centre
Hill, Quatre Bornes), while Mahébourg is Gallery (Map p86; %698 8007; adults/children Rs 50/25; dian meal. The décor is modern, the whole Charles Baudelaire (Map p86; %454 7929; ccb@intnet
served from the southbound terminal. The h8am-4pm Mon-Fri, 8am-noon Sat), beside the brew- place a lovely shade of orange and there’s an .mu; 15/17 Gordon St; h10am-5.30pm Tue-Fri, 9am-3pm
terminals lie on either side of Châteauneuf ery, produces unusual – and environmentally excellent-value range of curries too. Sat), which puts on an impressive schedule of
St, at the junction with Victoria Ave. sound – souvenirs made from recycled glass. Happy Valley (Map p86; %454 6065; St Jean Rd; plays, concerts and other events promoting
Expect to pay around Rs 600 for a taxi You can see them being made using tradi- mains Rs 160-350; hlunch & dinner, closed Wed; a) French culture.
ride from Curepipe to the airport and Rs tional methods in the workshop, which also Far more down to earth than Tannar is There are also several impressive Cre-
500 to Port Louis. doubles as a small museum. long-standing local favourite Happy Valley. ole buildings in the centre of Rose Hill.
House specials include Peking duck, spicy The Municipality of Beau Bassin-Rose Hill (Map
AROUND CUREPIPE QUATRE BORNES squid and the aptly named Three Marvels p86) on St Jean Rd is housed in an unu-
The Black River Gorges National Park, pop 78,000 Hot Pot, a seafood and vegetable steamboat. sual Creole building that was constructed in
some 10km southwest of Curepipe, is a fa- For many people Quatre Bornes is noth- At Sunday lunchtime it’s packed with local 1933 as a theatre. Next door, Maison Le Carne
vourite haunt of hikers, but it also provides ing more than a big conurbation built up Chinese families tucking into dim sum (four (Map p86) is a more attractive old Cre-
two spectacular drives. Perhaps the more around the tediously busy road linking Flic pieces of dim sum from Rs 50). ole mansion. It now houses the Mauritius
stunning road, but only by a whisker, is en Flac to the M1. Its main street, St Jean Research Council.
that cutting west across Plaine Champagne Rd, is always choked with traffic, but despite Getting There & Away
before corkscrewing down to the coast; at this the town is pleasantly lively with lots Frequent bus services operate between Rose
each bend the view seems better than the of shopping. The twice-weekly clothes market Hill, Port Louis and the bus station in Qua- Getting There & Away
last. The other road takes you plunging on Thursday and Sunday is well worth a tre Bornes beside the town hall. Buses for There are regular buses from Port Louis and
steeply down to the south. If you are feel- visit. Locals flock here from miles around Curepipe, Floréal and Flic en Flac stop at Curepipe to Rose Hill, and from Rose Hill to
ing more energetic, you might try one of to rummage the stalls, where it’s possible to regular intervals along St Jean Rd. Centre de Flacq on the east coast.