Mahébourg: “To ene trezor ent leciel ek later” – Mauritius
Mahébourg, a coastal town located in the south-east of Mauritius bears the name of a former French governor of our colonial era: Bertrand-François Mahé de La Bourdonnais. Built during the brief rule of the Dutch, Mahébourg is full of nooks and crannies that remind us of our history and undoubtedly offers some of the most beautiful vestiges of our past. Mahébourg, witness of the famous battle of Grand-Port dating from 1810, retraces history at the Naval Museum, especially dedicated to this period’s maritime history and the naval battles between the French and the British.
Afar at bay, a view of the puzzling Mouchoir Rouge islet and Ile aux Aigrettes, protected by the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation, a site classified as a Nature Reserve since 1965. Ile aux Aigrettes is now home to several species of fauna and endemic flora of Mauritius. A must-see for all nature lovers! If by any chance you happen to be staying in Mauritius during the period of the regattas that start from Pointe Canon each year, do not miss the event! Over than the beauty of the canoes decorated on the occasion, you may also get to know more about the Mahébourgeois who gather at the waterfront. A festive atmosphere together with several local culinary specialties and fresh seafood is what you will find. A time to enjoy many typical Mauritian dishes. You may be tempted by a small glass-bottom boat trip to the Blue Bay Marine Park, near Mahébourg! The place to be to observe the seabed and indulge in snorkeling in Mauritius. Otherwise, a kayak trip along the La Chaux River will reveal another aspect of the city.
A visit to the Rault biscuit factory dating from 1870 will seduce you, enchanting all your senses. The cassava cookies, made in an artisanal way, without preservatives, coloring or sweeteners, match perfectly a nice cup of tea at the end of the visit. Downtown, you will come across a surprising washhouse dating from the 1770s, which was used by women in the past, to wash the uniforms of French soldiers during the battle of Grand-Port. Stroll along the wide, nicely laid out streets of the old area of Mahébourg, crossing the Cavendish Bridge (originally built in wood in the 1850s, and which is today in stone and concrete). Stop at the Mahébourg marketplace, only open on Mondays: on which day, the entire area surrounding the Mahébourg waterfront turns into a huge open-air flea market. One can find almost anything in this big bazaar where the scents of spices mingle with shimmering colors and the sounds of voices with singing accents calling out to you. Chat for a few moments with the friendly vendors while sipping on fresh coconuts or nibbling on juicy exotic fruits topped up with tamarind compote.
Mahébourg is definitely a place to be to experience the authentic life of our Mauritian fishermen. Watch them set off at dawn while the sun hasn’ t yet risen or wait for their return early afternoon with their day’s catch which they sell directly to fishmongers on the beach. No one illustrates better Mahébourg than Zulu, a famous Mauritian artist singing:
*Mahébourg, “Ene kado lamer, to ene trezor ent leciel ek later!” (Mahébourg, a gift from the sea, you are a treasure between heaven and earth).