A guide to Port Louis

There’s a reason why Port Louis is the most popular city in Mauritius – it may not have its own beach, but it’s privy to just about everything else. We’re talking museums, historical hotspots and worldly cuisine, all under one extremely sunny roof. It’s also the original home to the flightless and mysterious dodo bird, a complete skeleton of which is on display in a local museum.

History

Port Louis is the capital city of Mauritius, tucked up along the island’s north-western coast.

It’s the business and administrative heart of Mauritius, as well as the home of the main harbour. If you’re on a boat and you’re trying to get into Mauritius, you’ve got to stop here.

This harbour city has been in operation since its days as a French pit stop in the 17th century, but really hit its stride when it came under British occupation in the mid-19th century.

People from India, China and elsewhere around the world also reached the island’s shores and brought with them their special brand of cuisine that continues to influence Mauritius’ culinary scene today.

It also had a great impact on the architecture – Port Louis is paved with French colonial buildings in between Indian temples, mosques and a Chinese pagoda.

Top spots around town

Natural History Museum – The artefacts at Mauritius’ Natural History Museum detail the island’s lengthy past, with exhibits on underwater life, flora and fauna, plus the only complete dodo skeleton in existence.

Citadel Fort Adelaide – This 19th-century fort is the only preserved fort left in Port Louis and provides fantastic views over the city.

Blue Penny Museum – Named after Mauritius’ blue penny stamp, the Blue Penny Museum celebrates the island’s art and history, holding on display two of the world’s rarest stamps.

Central Market – This Mauritian market has been around since Victorian times and is the best local spot for fruit and veg, as well as souvenirs.

Aapravasi Ghat – This UNESCO World Heritage Site was a migration depot for the thousands of indentured servants that arrived in Mauritius in the mid-1800s, as part of the British government’s ‘Great Experiment’ to use free labour after slavery was abolished.

Le Caudan Waterfront – The Caudan Waterfront is a seaside mall with shopping, dining and entertainment all in one striking building.

The Photography Museum – Brainchild of local photographer Tristan Breville, this small museum displays a collection of cameras and historical photos depicting the island over the years, along with a number of daguerreotypes – the first commercially successful photographic process.

Dining out in Port Louis

Port Louis is the centre of business operations in Mauritius, so it sees a lot of locals commuting in for the day and leaving at night. As a result, a fair deal – though definitely not all – of restaurants here shut at sundown as the city goes to sleep.

There’s still a high demand for lunch spots however, so you’ll have a chance to taste some of the city’s local flavours earlier in the day.

The cuisine in Mauritius is as big of a melting pot as the island, with much of the international flavours having been brought here by former migrants. There are hints of Creole, Chinese, French and Indian influences everywhere you look, and many menus don’t hesitate to combine themes.

Creole curries, Chinese noodles and French bouillon all make special appearances on Port Louis menus.

And though it’s not as famous as its Caribbean counterparts, Mauritian rum is gaining popularity around the world, too. You can sample it, along with Mauritian beer and a number of French wines, around Port Louis with ease.

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