The very first time we were in Port Louis at the end of the last century, we were a bit disappointed with the capital of Mauritius. Less than twenty years later, the city has emerged as a colourful melting pot of creole, Indian and Western European cultures. Below, we describe some pleasant places in the city that are definitely worth a visit.
For a spectacular 360-degree view of Port Louis and the north, you should definitely climb the 812-metre-high Le Pouce (The Thumb)! The hike is easy to do but to get to the top in the sometimes-strong wind, you shouldn’t be afraid of heights. In this blog we discuss this in more detail.
The colourful, lively capital Port Louis
Le Caudal Waterfront
One of the neighbourhoods that we think has been refurbished the most in the last twenty years is Le Caudal Waterfront. You’ll get there by walking through the colourful streets of the city centre via the exotic herb and souvenir market towards the marina. Here you’ll find a lot of shops (which we found disappointing), lots of eateries and nice terraces and bars. Lovers of Indian cuisine will get their money’s worth here for sure!
Near Le Caudan Waterfront, the Citadel Fort is located on top of the 100-metre-high Petite Montague hill. This fort was built in the 19th century in the Moorish style to protect the British army from the enemy. Nowadays, it is a national monument. It is a popular tourist destination because of its beautiful views of the ocean, the city, the harbour and the horse racecourse.
Close to the port, there is also the Central Market, which has been the heart of local business since Victorian times. It is a good place to get to know local life, to see the peddlers at work and to try out the typical dishes of Mauritius. The most authentic dishes are the fruit and vegetable stalls and the medicinal Chinese herbs. It’s best to go to the market early in the morning from Monday to Saturday. Not only are the products at their freshest, but it is also not so tropically warm in the city.
Blue Penny Museum
Even if you’re not a philatelist, you shouldn’t miss the Blue Penny Museum during your visit to the capital! The relatively small museum located near Le Caudan Waterfront shows not only the history of the postal service but also of the island. There are exhibitions about the shipping industry in different periods in history as well as about the famous story of Paul and Virginie. But the highlight of the museum is without a doubt the Blue (and Orange) Mauritius, some of the rarest and therefore most expensive stamps in the world.
Special Beer Café Lambic
For lovers of speciality beer who get homesick after all those delicious Indian curries, there is a fantastic pub in the heart of the city: Lambic. In a beautiful old, renovated colonial house you can enjoy local dishes, such as deer or wild boar from the Black River region, suitable for a delicious beer from, for instance, St. Bernardus. The beverage list includes 130 imported beers, 46 whiskies and about 43 teas from Sri Lanka. There is of course a shop next to the restaurant.
By the way, recently there is also a brewery south of the city where 20 speciality beers are brewed.
Climbing Le Pouce
Of all the views we enjoyed in Mauritius, the one from the top of Le Pouce was the most beautiful, or at least the most impressive. The mountain has its name because with some imagination it has the shape of a thumb.
From the village of Petit Verger, just south of the third highest mountain in Mauritius, the walk starts near the natural swimming pool. Unfortunately, it is not easy to find but the village is really very small so any inhabitant can help you on your way. By the way, if you have more time for a walk, you can also walk from Port Louis to Le Pouce in two hours.
During the walk, there are fantastic views of the Mocha region and of the Pieter Both, the second highest mountain on the island. The last part of the hike goes through a small meadow, followed by a short but quite challenging climb to the top. You arrive at the flattened top of the mountain, which is not a good idea for people with a lot of fear of heights due to its limited size. If you don’t have that fear, you’ll be treated to one of the most beautiful, if not the most beautiful, views in all of Mauritius, as mentioned before!