About the North
Réunion’s capital and administrative hub, Saint-Denis, is characterised by historical architecture, museums and cultural monuments. It is also packed with busy markets, boutique stores and restaurants brimming with the island’s cuisine.
Along the coast lies Le Barachois, a popular waterfront park with sports and leisure amenities galore. Look out for the monument to Roland Garros, a World War I aviator from Réunion, and learn about the island’s more recent local history.
To the east of the capital is Sainte-Marie, which is home to the island’s international airport and the luxuriant ferns of the Forêt Departemento-Domaniale de la Plaine des Fougères, a perfect hiking destination in the vicinity of the Piton Fougères.
Sainte-Suzanne, which sports the island’s only lighthouse, is Réunion’s oldest inhabited town, famous for its vanilla plantation. Take time out to play under its waterfalls and picnic on its riverbanks.
Inland, in the central north of the island, the Salazie volcanic caldera and a picturesque waterfall await visitors.
Cascade Niagara is a magnificent waterfall on the Sainte-Suzanne River, dropping into a pool where visitors can enjoy a refreshing swim. The waterfall is flanked by bamboo and sugar cane plantations.
The expansive Parc du Colorado is set on a hilltop, where it offers a panoramic view of Saint-Denis below. The park has picnic areas and walking trails, and is used as a departure point for hikers, downhill mountain bikers and horseback riders. Its slides and swings make it ideal for children.
Cathédrale de Saint-Denis in the city centre was built in 1832, declared a historical monument in 1975 and was restored in 2010. The cathedral is set on Avenue de la Victoire and the square in front has a fountain and benches under shady trees, where you can relax and reflect.
The neoclassical architecture of the Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle in Saint-Denis has earned it historical monument status. The building is as much of an attraction as its collection of Indian Ocean flora and fauna is, not to mention the beautiful botanical gardens that surround it.
One of the island’s many waterfalls, the Voile de la Mariée, past the village of Hell-Bourg in the central northern interior en route to the Salazie caldera, is said to resemble a bride’s veil. The illusion is created by numerous channels that tumble over a semicircular mountain cliff into a natural pool below.
- A guided tour of La Vanilleraie, a historical monument that is a vanilla plantation and processing workshop on the Creole estate of Le Grand Hazier in Sainte-Suzanne.
- A visit to the Temple Tamoul de Bois Rouge in Saint-André.
- Drinking a dodo. Rum may be the island’s drink of choice, but Bourbon beer (known locally as dodo because of the picture on its label) is a refreshing alternative.