EXPERIENCE THE SWEET CREOLE WAY OF LIFE

Posted: December 10, 2012 in Beach Holiday, Destinations, Tourism, Travel Tips

EXPERIENCE THE SWEET CREOLE WAY OF LIFE

 

REUNION ISLAND
Capital: Saint-Denis
Time Zone: UTC+4
Population: 781,962
Languages: French, Creole
Power: 220V, 50Hz
Currency: euro – Currently 1 EUR € = 1.2904 USD $
Climate: Reunion has a tropical climate, with the temperature moderated with the elevation as you climb. Seasonally, the island is cool and dry from May to November, and hot and rainy from November to April with the greatest risk of cyclones in February and March. – Currently 89º, Partly Cloudy

DESTINATIONS

Saint-Denis: Colonial French architecture can be seen around Saint Denis, and the restaurants are the best on the islands. See the Leon Dierx Art Gallery, with interesting collections of local artists, and the Botanical Gardens, and especially Le Barachois, the main thoroughfare near the waterfront with the nicest cafes and shops. From here you can book trips into the surrounding mountains or Cirques, but before you go, spend a few hours in the African influenced Grand Marché.


St-Gilles-les-Bains: Beaches are a big attraction, judged by the crowded weekends on the multicolored sands. Although sharks are common in the waters, the beaches at St-Gilles-les-Bains are protected by coral and are considered safe, as is Saint-Leu about 10 miles to the south. There are restaurants in the main town that make spending time here very easy. Saint-Paul is 6 miles to the north and worth half a day to stroll through the nation’s previous capital and see the colonial buildings.


Cilaos: A simple spa resort in the late 1800s, Cilaos is a small town nestled inside a mountain crater called a cirque with fantastic views of the surrounding landscape, plus a small museum and thermal spas to occupy you after going on hikes through the area. Longer day hikes are possible to areas like the Cirque de Mafate, a very remote and difficult to access area of ridges and small villages, or the Cirque de Salazie, more easily accessed with waterfalls like le Voile de la Mariée, the Bride’s Veil.

TIPS

Culture and Language: The island is casual in its approach to life and suits are uncommon. French is spoken and knowing a few phrases will make your life easier.
Banking: Note that the local currency is the Euro, local banks will help exchange most currencies, and most stores will take credit cards and traveller’s checks with ease.
When To Visit: April to September is the peak tourist season and also has the best weather for hiking and traveling the island, although May and June can often be relatively quiet. Towns and villages have annual festivals honoring the town staple, for example, vanilla in Bras-Panon in mid-May, saffron in Saint Joseph in August, and lychees in Saint Denis in mid-December.
Food: The French influence is easy to see but mixes with India spices and African staples. Rougail, a vegetarian chutney with tomato and hot spices, fricassees or garlic, ginger and tomatoes served with rice, beans or lentils, or stews of poultry, meat or fish, often ending with sweet potato cake, chocolate tarts and puffed pancakes with banana examples of the desserts.
Phrases: Yes = oui, no = non, please = s’il vous plait, thank you = merci, do you speak English = parlez vous anglais?
Tipping: Check your bill, as a 10% service charge may have been added, and include the same as a gratuity for good service.

Detours: Stand clear of protests or demonstrations, which while uncommon can uncover heated tempers, and note that the island is home to an active volcano in the southeastern corner of the island, which occasionally erupts and sends lava flowing into the ocean, crossing and covering any roads in the way, so detours may be needed. Other than that, all you need is a little common sense when visiting.

 

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