To the South-East of Mauritius, not far from the airport, the picturesque village of Mahébourg faces the sea and the rising sun.
Fonded in 1805 by the last French Governor of the island, General Charles Decaen, the village was named Mahébourg in honour of Mahé de Labourdonnais, the most famous of the island’s former French governors. The town has a rich history. First “urban” agglomeration to be built with all the modern amenities, the biggest village of the south east of Mauritius, Mahébourg has been the privileged witness of time’s work on the Mauritian society. From its status of major slave market to its transformation into an environment-friendly tourist spot, the village has kept its historical identity, as colourful and Mauritius as ever.
Many reminders of the French past are still seen today like the beautiful 18th century colonial mansion set in a large green park which today houses the Naval Museum mahebourg and a crafts centre.
Mahébourg being a daughter of the sea, the main activities of the villagers are linked with fishing. Mahébourg is also home to numerous hawkers and traders. The town is famous for its market that joins the neighboring villages with Mahébourg and it is a meeting point to sell and buy, for chatting and meet people.
The favorite spot for afternoon walks is the Mahébourg Waterfront. A place to breathe the fresh air from the sea, enjoying the marvelous view and listen to the lapping of waves.
Places to Eat
The best places to eat at Mahébourg are around the Waterfront and the coastal road to Pointe d’Esny.
Les Copains d’Abord with its good location on the seafront promenade and smart décor is the best restaurant in town. The cuisine is mixed Mediterranean and Mauritian with particularly good seafood.
Mahébourg has a small number of guesthouses catering to independent travelers. Budget travelers have a good choice of accommodation here, and it makes a good base for any visitor, may find them spending the first or last few days there as it is the nearest centre to the airport. The bay is a picturesque backdrop for the town, with the sea changing from one intense colour to another at great speed.
Noix de Coco guesthouse is situated directly on the beach at Pointe d’Esny only 5 minutes drive from Mahébourg. Noix de Coco offers 5 delightful guestrooms on the first floor, some with sea view. The breakfast is served on the verandah with sea view and evening meals can be provided as well if you request them.
Mahébourg’s most worthwile site is its interesting history museum. The church also merits a quick look in passing and, if time allows, it’s worth venturing just north of town to visit a delightful old biscuit factory. There are no beaches in town itself, but Blue Bay is within easy reach as well as Pointe d’Esny, from where visits to Ile aux Aigrettes are available.
Further south are some very interesting nature reserves to discover in full or half day trips. Expedition Tours catamaran cruises to Ile aux Cerfs and some interesting full day land excursions at the south east region of the island.
Getting There & Around
Taxis: are many and comfortable. Can be recognized by the white number plate and the taximeter.
Busses: Express buses run to and from Port Louis and Curepipe every 30 minutes. Some stop at airport en route.
Car Hire: Modern cars to moderate prices available by Expedition Tour. An international driving licence is advised. Driving is on the left side of the road.
Important sights to visit at Mahébourg
National History Museum: The colonial mansion housing this museum, just south of the Mahébourg centre, used to belong to the Robillard family and played an important part in the island’s history.
Notre Dame des Anges: The butter-coloured tower of Notre Dames des Anges church provides a focal point in Mahébourg. The original church was built in 1849, but it has been restored serval times over the years, most recently in 1938. Take a quick peek inside at the baronial roof timbers.
Rault Biscuit Factory: In 1870 the Rault family started producing manioc biscuits at their little biscuit factory on the northern outskirts of Mahébourg. The crispy, square cookies are made almost entirely by hand, using a secret recipe passed down the generations, and baked on hotplates over stoves fuelled with dried sugar cane leaves.
Mahébourg and its reach History
The Dutch Period
The French Period
The British Period