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Réunion Travel guide

Mafate Circus General Council building in Saint-Denis Flamboyant in flower
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Réunion : Michelin's recommendations

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Known as the "Western Island" by 14C Arabs, Réunion has had as many names as it has conquerors throughout its history. One of them, "île Bourbon", has remained etched in our memory due to its redolence of sweet vanilla combined with the bitter taste of slavery.

Now a model of integration and religious tolerance, Creole culture has produced a multiracial population where mosques, churches, pagodas and Tamil temples peacefully coexist. It's fun to stroll around the capital, Saint-Denis, enjoying its quiet small-town charm and magnificent Creole houses!

But the most beautiful images you'll take away with you are from the Heights of this volcanic island in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Africa. Its cirques, gigantic geological formations with vertiginous remparts, were once an excellent hiding place for runaway slaves. Their oldest inhabitant, the Piton de la Fournaise, has been grumbling for 3 million years, frightening Reunion Islanders again during the "eruption of the century" in 2007.

If there's one institution in this "sweet-smelling land caressed by the sun" (Baudelaire) that is not to be missed, it's the Sunday picnic! This is your chance to meet multiple generations from the island around the delicious aroma of massalé (Réunion's version of the Indian garam masala).

Réunion - See all cities and regions

Réunion : Must-see towns and regions

  • Hell-Bourg

    When you catch a glimpse of the beautiful houses and their pretty gardens (see the Villa Folio) lining the streets of Hell-Bourg, you’ll understand why it was designated one of the loveliest villages ...

  • Saint-Denis

    This town on the northern tip of Réunion has been the prefecture since 1946. Here you can see the island in all its ethnic, cultural and religious diversity. This is where you get a real feeling for l...

  • Saint-Paul

    In the 17C the first French settlers landed in the sheltered bay of St Paul and made it the capital of the island, unseated in the 18C by St Denis. While St Paul contains some traces from colonial day...

  • The name of this village comes from the huge cabbage palm forest that once covered the region. It boasts some of the island’s most beautiful Creole houses, including the Villa des Tourelles, a manor ...

  • Cilaos

    Cilaos owes its prosperity to the thermal baths situated in the main street, not far from the shops and Notre-Dame-des-Neiges church. The town’s traditional craft of embroidery and the more recent win...

  • Manapany-les-Bains

    After a nice swim between the boulders on this pretty bay, head down to the old marina (by the car park) where launches once managed the extraordinary feat of transferring sugar produced at the Manapa...

  • Saint-Philippe

    St Philippe, gateway to the rugged south, is a peaceful village that seemed like a sleepy place until the nearby volcano erupted in 1986. The inhabitants have continued making their traditional screw ...

  • Saint-Pierre

    Saint-Pierre has experienced alternating periods of prosperity, when coffee and sugarcane ensured a large income, and harder times when the commercial harbour project ended up a bitter financial failu...

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