The beautiful volcanic island of Reunion is a multicultural island East of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean which is inhabited by people originally from France, Mozambique, India, China, Madagascar, and the Comoros.
The island is a French overseas territory and is commonly known as ‘the intense island’ or ‘island of great visual beauty’, because of the richness and diversity of its landscapes.
The city of Saint Paul of Reunion shelters the “best bay of anchorage” of the island, where the french landed for the first time in June 29th, 1642 and on November 10th, 1663, Saint-Charles anchored there, making it become a colony and the first french base of the Indian Ocean. On September 21st, 1809, it was conquered by the british, who withdrew immediately.
Former capital of the island, Saint Paul is the oldest town of Réunion, and after its detriment, Saint Denis became the new capital. Most tourists come for the Cimetière Marin, at the southern end of town. It contains the remains of various Reunionnais such as the poet Leconte de Lisle and the pirate Olivier “La Buse” Levasseur.
It is home to eight colleges, including the famous Saint-Gilles les Hauts (The Public school of Bernica). It is possible to find few preserved colonial buildings along the seafront and in a street running parallel to it, a colourful Hindu temple.
On the northern outskirts of town, it is possible to sunbathe, swim and surf in a black-sand beach called Étang-Salé-Les-Bains. With shallow reefs close to the shore, calm and protected waters, it makes for a great diving spot.
On friday and saturday morning, an animated market is held on the seafront promenade with heaps of local vegetables, spices, handmade products and rum mixtures. You can also find camions-snacks (snack vans), that operate from late mornings until late at night, selling beef ribsteak with fries, salads and carris
One of the most sold items in the market is vanilla. Introduced to reunion at the beginning of the 19th century and after the young ma Edmond Albius discovered the manual process of fertilisation of this orquid, it is now considered the best in the world. Bourbon vanilla is featured in the country’s coat of arms, interlaced with the slogan “Florebo quocumque ferar”, meaning “I will flower everywhere I am carried” and it is often sold in it’s natural form, in syrup, mixed into fruit preserves and mixtures for rum. One classic dish that is available in many restaurants is Canard à la vanille (duck in vanilla), that offers the sweetness of vanilla complemented by spices such as nutmeg, turmeric and clove
The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Best of Africa.
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