Let’s visit Souillac: this village situated in the south of Mauritius in the district of Savanne, is named after Vicomte François de Souillac, then French governor of Isle de France between 1779-1787. This governor decided to build a port there called Le Batelage for French ships who were on their way to India. This port would also help to transport by sea, products including sugar, from the south of the island to our capital city, Port-Louis. This spot is now a space for fishing boats, some offices, and a restaurant.
This typical and charming village hides some wonders: Strolling through the village, you will pass by an ancient garden named after Charles Telfair, naturalist and landowner who developed the lands at Bel Ombre, a nearby village. There is also a museum, La Nef, which shelters the works of a well-known Mauritian poet, Robert Edward Hart. It is said that the village Post Office was built from the remains of a ship that sank decades ago. In addition, the Souillac Police Station, one of the oldest on the island, was built in 1905 and is considered a heritage of the locality, while the Saint Jacques Church dates from 1845. At Souillac, you will also find, extended over several hectares, an astonishing marine cemetery, facing the ocean: the last home of the old French settlers who came to Isle de France during the 18th and 19th centuries. Some tombs still hold their epitaph or inscriptions carved on basalt stone.
The beautiful Rochester Falls Cascade, located on the Savanne River, about 10 meters high, surrounded by nature, attracts more than one for a cool swim and exquisite photos. The silence around this area is delightful as you will not hear any other noises except for the rush of the water. Embark on an interesting and adventurous hike to L’Exil waterfalls. This trail is all about the thrill of the natural Combo Forest, the remarkable fauna and flora, and the refreshing water spray from the waterfall on your face.
Further on, facing the open sea, stand the Gris Gris cliffs, impressive in natural beauty, and the bewildering: La Roche qui pleure. As the heavy waves crash against the cliffs, you will be brought to think that you can hear the cliffs crying. The southern winds blowing almost all year round offer a complete change of scenery to the visitors. Some would voice out that it recalls a landscape in Brittany.
Since 1987, Souillac has been paired with the town of Souillac in the Lot department in France. This was initiated by Mr. Armand Maudave a (recently deceased) native of Souillac, and the Comte de Montferrand, one of the descendants of the Vicomte de Souillac. In 2007, a bust of the Vicomte de Souillac was inaugurated at Le Batelage on the twentieth anniversary of the pairing.
You will have understood by now that the past has left its marks at Souillac, and a little tour of this enchanting village will take you back there for a few moments.