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Town and Villages

Exploring the cities and towns of Mauritius is a unique experience that slips you into the colourful mix of cultures that live a communal and laid-back island life.
For a small island, Mauritius has a number of towns worth visiting. Grand Baie, Port Louis and Curepipe are the largest and offer great shopping both in modern shopping centres and in local markets.

Beau Bassin

The backstreets of Beau-Bassin have some beautifully preserved colonial homes; nearby the Balfour Gardens offer views of the Moka Mountains, ravines and waterfalls. Restaurants, pubs, discos, big supermarkets and several high street shops are all available for exploration here.

Rose-Hill is the third largest town in Mauritius, and is busier than the adjoining Beau-Bassin. It is a major commercial centre, second only to Port-Louis. This is the place for cheap shopping.

Curepipe

The highest of the plateau towns, Curepipe also holds the distinction of having the highest rainfall on the island. Consider yourself forewarned, rain is part of the scenery in these parts.

This said, most people come to Curepipe to shop. The best shopping is in the suburbs of Floreal and Forest Side, rather than the touristy Le Sablonniere complex located in Pope Hennessy Street.

Curepipe is also home to the Trou aux Cerfs, perhaps its best-known local attraction. This ancient volcanic crater is now filled with silt, water, and thick vegetation, and is only a short walk from the centre of town.

Grand Baie

Located on the north coast of Mauritius, you'll find many tourists stationed here in Grand Baie. This pretty horseshoe-shaped bay is lined with hotels, restaurants, bars and designer stores. Grand Baie is in fact the only resort town in Mauritius that offers so many resort-independent bars and restaurants.

The usual exotic Mauritian activities are on offer in Grand Baie, including various water sports, diving, snorkelling and glass-bottomed boat trips. With all the frenetic holiday activity, many people opt for just chilling on white sands, watching local fishermen go about there business. The bay can get crowded so if you want calmer shores head further north.





Although this town has sprung quite rapidly from a small fishing village into a popular tourist spot, you'll find the friendly small town atmosphere remains intact and many Mauritians own second homes here.

This part of the bay is home to La Cuvette beach. If you pass black basalt rocks you've gone too far, a fact you'll be reminded of by the Royal Palm Hotel staff. Wanderers are not welcome here, and this luxury hotel is only open to those on a pre-arranged itinerary.

Day trips to nearby Flat Island and Gabriel Island, and Coin de Mire are recommended. You can also book tours to all other parts of the country from Grand Baie.

Mahébourg

Located on the southern shores of Vieux Grand Port Bay is the somewhat forgotten town of Mahébourg. Mahebourg is the former capital of Mauritius and is worth visiting for its character and laid-back charm. Ile aux Aigrettes, where conservationists are trying to preserve Mauritius' natural heritage, is just off shore.

Under French rule this place was a flourishing port town, and British involvement even saw the construction of a railway connecting Mahébourg to Port Louis.

Nowadays, the place is run down. The streets are dusty, and the railway is long abandoned. Life goes on for the local people though, and there is a charming laid-back atmosphere that tries its best to swallow up the air of neglect. As with most tropical coastal towns, walk the backstreets and you will find local life, with its simple poverty and slow sense of purpose.

The town is one of the only two remaining areas where craftsmen practicing the art of pirogue building can still be found. These wooden boats bob around 'red hanky island', dotting the clear waters with colour and charm.

There is a busy market in town, ripe with exotic fruits and spices. There is also a naval museum on the southern outskirts of town for those wanting to take in some maritime history, with its sunken ships and salvaged trinkets.

Quatre bornes

Located about 10 miles to the south of Port Louis in the southwestern part of the Mauritius is Quatre Bornes (French for Four Corners). The town is named after the number of sugar estates marking its original boundaries.

Apart from wandering the streets, discovering little restaurants and exploring the day to day of local life, there is not much to do in Quatre Bornes. There is, however, a colourful market, open on Thursdays and Sundays.

Should you visit around January-February, there is a remarkable festival that takes place called Cavadee. The Indian temples at the base of Corps de Garde scream to life as Tamils pierce their bodies with needles, and their tongues and cheeks with skewers, in ritual penance and celebration.

Vacoas Phoenix

The Vacoas and Phoenix areas are gradually merging into something of a single suburban sprawl along with Curepipe and Beau-Bassin Rose Hill.

Vacoas consists of a lively bus station (perhaps because people are so excited to be departing) and market. The one main point of interest for travellers is the museum. The colonial style building was previously a Scottish Presbyterian church, then a rum store. If that's not remarkable enough, it's worth mentioning that this was all happening in Port Louis.

The building was dismantled stone by stone, and resurrected in Vacoas. In the museum, the police forensic unit has an exhibit up which includes bullet ridden human organs that have been pickled and jarred.

Phoenix is home to Mauritius Breweries, producer of the local Phoenix Beer. This is largely an industrial area and, along with the brewery, is famous for its glassworks, and food and beverage production companies.

 

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