Travel to Port Louis – Colourful Multi-cultural Capital of Mauritius
Capital and main port of Mauritius, Port Louis is a fascinating multi-cultural city, home to a variety of architectural styles, a mixture of modern sky-scrapers and waterfront shopping centres. It is also festooned with a blend of old colonial buildings, Hindu Temples, Mosques, Chinese Pagodas and Christian Churches. It is also home to the World Heritage Site of Aapravasi Ghat, the only surviving remains of an immigration depot from later years of the 19th century, built to welcome labour immigrants.
Port Louis was founded by the French Governor, Francois Mahé de Labourdonnais in 1735. The harbour lies sheltered in a semi-circle of mountains which are ideally suited for keen walkers. Fort Adelaide overlooks the city and was built between 1834 and 1840 by British Royal Engineers at a time when the British believed the French would attempt to regain the island. Port Louis is surrounded by a mountain range – the Port Louis Moka Range.
To see a fascinating cross-section of Mauritian life a visit to the lively covered central market is a must. In existence for over a century, it is full of exotic merchandise and handicrafts, together with the usual fruit and vegetable stalls. In certain quarters the town shows signs of its elegant past. Off the main square, palm-lined Place d’Armes, there are some particularly fine French colonial buildings, including the Municipal Theatre and 18th century Government House – now a National Monument. A walk through China Town next to the market is another option. Jummah Mosque is the oldest mosque on the island and is adorned with some impressive Moorish architecture. Other important attractions include the Worldwide Masks Museum, the Blue Penny Museum, the Natural History Museum and Champs de Mars Racecourse. Of course for the best high-up views of the town and harbour, head for Fort Adelaide – a citadel fortified in the time of William IV.
Port Louis is compact enough to explore on foot. Keen walkers can walk out of town up the scenic Valleé du Pouce, and follow a trail to the 812m high Le Pouce viewpoint and peak. Love it or hate it shopping is a popular activity in Port Louis – Mauritius is an excellent place to buy textiles. Jewellery has inherited a long tradition in Mauritius, especially by Muslim and Hindu craftsmen. Handicrafts include basketwork, embroidery, earthenware, silk-screened fabric, cut stones and blown recycled glass. For those who enjoy fine cuisine, a colourful range of chillies, spices, vanilla tea and rum are available.
Head for the Caudan Waterfront and find a café or bar overlooking Port Louis harbour.
Explore on foot, Port Louis is not a big town. Alternatively taxis are numerous and are recognisable by their yellow signs.
- Visit the colourful central market, experience the smell of spices and taste vanilla tea
- Take a hike into the nearby Moka mountains and climb Le Pouce Peak
- Discover the French colonial heritage of Port Louis on a city sightseeing walk