23 October 2012

Discovering Reunion Island

The Indian Ocean is home to a secret gem that we feel we should share, Ile de La Reunion. Picture lush tropical forests, cascading waterfalls, ferocious live volcanoes and surf that could rival Hawaii. As if that wasn’t enough, this little speck is home to a unique cultural blend – French, Indian, Chinese, African. We’ve witnessed it and we believe it’s our duty to tell you that you should too.

Gastronomy

Food is part of the world’s day-to-day life, but here it’s so much more. The exotic colours and aromas infuse the atmosphere, making these dishes an eclectic mix of the island’s heritage. Whether it be indulging in a pain au chocolate et café au lait for breakfast, to tucking into a hearty Indian-inspired curry at dusk. The grub on Réunion is extraordinary and often homemade, passing from mother to daughter in a skilful, precious way allowing the art of gastronomy to continue for generations. If you ask politely you’ll even be able to take some tips to try at home…

Creole Culture

Réunion Island with its French-inspired take on island life means that the local population is made up of French descendants combined with residents from neighbouring countries. The Creole language has developed and is now spoken by almost everyone, regardless of original ethnic backgrounds. Creole culture is infused into a wider arena than just the local language – Réunion’s delectable food, colourful architecture, live music and traditional dances all take their inspiration from the island’s melting pot of backgrounds.

Architecture

La Réunion’s approach is simple. Bask in the island’s natural surroundings with well-proportioned homes resting against the impressive milieu. Whether it be the colourful Creole stilted homes to more modernised local designs, an architectural highlight is Notre Dame des Laves Church, on the island’s East Coast. Back in the 70s it almost became victim to Piton de la Fournaise’s lava attack. After a massive volcanic eruption magma migrated its way down to the village, but rather than plough through the church, it split and flowed around the church walls only for the bubbling lava to pause precariously at the front door. It’s for this reason, with the marks of history still visible, that we recommend a humbling visit.

Landscape

With dramatic jagged peaks and lush tropical rainforest, the views across Réunion are simply breathtaking and bring to life every Jurassic Park fantasy. Sweeping across the land you’ll discover the Piton de la Fournaise (translated to mean ‘furnace peak’), this is one of the world’s most active and productive volcanoes. Arriving on Réunion you’ll soon stumble across an array of golden and black sand beaches that stretch around the coastline. With tough competition from its powder soft sibling of Mauritius, the sandy bays of La Réunion manage to hold their own. The ripe surf is perfect so grab your board and practise your best body pops. Réunion truly has something for everyone; it is culturally rich and awe-inspiring all at the same time.

Words by Prudence Patterson

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