Discovering Port Louis, the capital of Mauritius
June 18 2018
June 18 2018
Mauritius is an unbelievable gem in the glittering Indian Ocean but it’s so much more than an outstanding holiday destination. This beautiful tropical paradise has an interesting history, one that is responsible for the eclectic culture, delectable cuisine and beautiful people. One of the best places in the whole of Mauritius to truly get a sense of its true character and energy is undoubtedly its capital city Port Louis. This exciting city has a wealth of remarkable experiences and sights for those that are interested in art, history, culture and of course food! If you are looking to discover Port Louis when you are in Mauritius, then here’s why it’s definitely worth the trip:
It’s the heart of the country
The bustling, fascinating city of Port Louis, located on the northwest coast, is more than just the country’s business and administrative centre, it’s really the heart and soul of Mauritius where you can see the different parts of its history come together in an extraordinary fashion. You will feel as if you have been transported to different lands with strong influences from India, China, Africa and Europe practically everywhere you turn. This magical city was founded in 1735 by Bertrand-François Mahé de La Bourdonnais who was the French governor at the time, although it had been a harbour for quite some time already (in fact, it had been used as harbour since 1638). The city, which is the largest in Mauritius, is said to have been named after King Louis XV, the King who ruled at the time Captain Dufresne d’Arsel took over Mauritius in the 17th century.
Flanked by a stunning mountain formation on the one side and the mesmerising ocean on the other, it’s a truly fantastic place to spend a day and feel the pulse of the unique city with its extraordinary architecture, heritage and culture.
It has a fantastic local market
A trip to Port Louis would be amiss without a stop at the Central Market. There’s nothing quite like entering the market for the first time. It’s an experience for the senses with merchants shouting to get the attention of potential customers, a huge array of colourful items on sale and a plethora of unusual scents. Here you can find a range of local (and wildly colourful) fruits, vegetables (some of which you might never have seen before) and wonderfully aromatic spices.
You will also find local Mauritian crafts and garments which make for the perfect gifts for loved ones back home or for yourself. Be sure to stop at one of the herbalists who are usually happy to explain their different herbs that can be used to help a massive range of ailments. Many of the stalls have detailed placards for the herbs that have some very useful tips. It’s a fascinating place to get lost for a little while and it will give you a great feel of the country and its varied cultures.
It’s a fabulous place to try the local food
While the magnificent luxury resorts in Mauritius definitely serve up some exceptional Mauritian and international fare, there’s something special about sampling the real deal. Mauritian street food is absolutely delicious and should definitely be tried at least once on a trip to this sensational place and Port Louis is definitely one of the best places on the island to do that. These delectable morsels are infused with Creole, French, Chinese and oftentimes European flavours and can be found in abundance throughout the city. Here you can indulge in spicy curries, beautifully sweet local fruits, British-inspired cakes, fried snacks and a host of Sino-Mauritian inspired dishes that include boulettes or dumplings (the best of which can be found in Port Louis’ Chinatown), wontons, spring rolls and much more. For something refreshing to drink try the sugar cane juice or an Alouda (a milk-based Mauritian drink).
There’s a huge range of amazing sites
If you are one who gets bored easily, then the good news is that there’s no shortage of things to do in Port Louis, no matter what ‘type’ of traveller you are. Foodies can gorge on sublime local fare, history buffs have a range of sites to discover and art-lovers are in for a treat with interesting museums and public street art. Here are three of our top must-visit sites in Port Louis:
Blue Penny Museum
A museum that was originally dedicated to the one- and two-pence stamps from 1847, the Blue Penny Museum has more to offer guests than just old stamps. In fact, it covers much deeper topics such as the island’s history from the exploration to settlement and the colonial period and even delves into the Paul and Virginie legend. It also has some art, extremely rare stamps and antique maps. It's definitely Port Louis’ best museum with an interesting “past and present” view of the vibrant capital city.
One for the beer connoisseurs, this interesting stop enjoys the setting of a sensational colonial home that has been refurbished with care and offers a massive range of local and imported beers (with a particularly impressive selection from Belgium) to their guests. There is also a comprehensive menu with a number of unique creole dishes. The well-trained waiters can even provide you with suggested beer and food pairings to make the experience all the more enjoyable. It’s a truly unique experience in the heart of the city and an absolute must-do for beer drinkers.
History buffs should definitely make a stop at the Aapravasi Ghat while exploring Port Louis. This site is made up of a small complex of buildings that was built close to the sea. It acted as the island’s main immigration depot for indentured labourers who were brought in from India after the British had abolished slavery. The site was listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2006 due to its important role in the island's history.
Much of the original stone buildings remain and if you have kids then you should definitely visit the Beekrumsing Ramlallah Interpretation Centre which hosts an array of activities for children and the (free) guided tours are an absolute must. While the site doesn’t look like much, it’s an unbelievably important site for many Mauritians as approximately 70% of them can trace their roots back to Aapravasi Ghat due to the fact that between 1849 and 1923, over half a million immigrants were processed here before being sent to their new places of work, which often involved work on various plantations or other colonial islands.
There’s a lot to do in the surrounding areas
If for some reason you don’t want to spend your entire day discovering the magical capital city of Port Louis, you can spend the morning here doing the activities that appeal to you and then head to the surrounding areas to make the most of your day trip. For example, the exquisite botanical gardens are a mere 15 minutes drive from the centre of Port Louis and are definitely worth the trip.
Looking for the ideal home base from which to explore the rest of Mauritius? Then look no further then a stay at one of the extraordinary luxury four- and five-star hotels owned by Sun Resorts. A holiday with one of these magical resorts is bound to be unforgettable.