Experience the highlights of Mahébourg

Sunday, 24 October 2021 08:48 AM

Mahébourg (pronounced “my-boor”) is a large fishing village on the southeastern coast of  Mauritius, built along the shore of the expansive bay of Grand Port. Once the capital of Mauritius, it now exudes a laid-back ambience with a unique blend of colonial and Creole architecture, including its iconic Cavendish bridge. 

Natural History Museum

You’ll find Mahébourg’s National History Museum (sometimes referred to as the Mahébourg Naval Museum) located off the main road, on the left as you enter the village. This interesting museum is housed in a colonial mansion known as Gheude Castle and contains a near-complete skeleton of a dodo, miniature sculptures by the Mauritian artist Prosper D'Epinay and marine archaeological finds from historic shipwrecks and other naval memorabilia. Mahébourg’s Grand Port witnessed the site of the only Napoleonic naval victory of the French over the English in 1810, a victory also listed on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. The museum is listed as a National Heritage Site and entrance is free, but please note that photos of the interior of the museum are not allowed.

Mahébourg waterfront

The Sir Gaetan Duval Esplanade at the Mahebourg waterfront is an ideal walkway for those who love a scenic seaside trundle. Here you’ll learn more about the battle of Grand Port while enjoying views of Lion Mountain and the islands of Ile Aux Aigrettes and Mouchoir Rouge, as fishing boats go about their business. The Monument aux Esclaves (Slavery Monument) stands at Pointe Canon, a symbol of the country’s painful history in a place known for its slave market. Commemorations are held here annually around 1 February, which is a public holiday celebrating the abolition of slavery. The area’s photogenic pier is always a great place to take a holiday snap while hydrating from a freshly cut coconut.

Mahébourg markets

There is a small and colourful daily market in front of the bus terminal, but the best day to do your shopping is on Monday, which is the village’s market day. Then the market swells and overflows with vegetables, tropical fruits and spices. A short distance away in Rue du Bazaar you’ll find clothes and crafts of all kinds, including souvenirs offering great bargains. Fresh seafood products are sold from traditional stalls along the street, and you can dig into delicious local snacks like gâteaux piments (chilli cakes), dhal puri (lentil pancakes) and samosas. Mahébourg is particularly famous for Gâteau Merveille, a crunchy snack coupled with a special sweet and sour chatini (a type of tomato paste mixed with coriander).

Food finder

If you aren’t too full of steaming food from the market’s stalls, you’ll find consistently excellent fare fit for every palate at Le Bazilic in Rue Maurice, or go and sample Pyramid Snack’s famous chicken biryani in Rue de Labourdonnais, near the petrol station. The Biscuiterie H Rault is a biscuit factory producing cassava biscuits using a method virtually unchanged in over 140 years. Tour the factory and see the process from roots to biscuit, as packets of Biscuits Manioc, available only in Mauritius, take shape.

Snorkelling in the bay

Find a local guide who can take you by boat to the small patch reef 1.3 km from the shore, in one of the biggest lagoons in Mauritius. Here you can snorkel over preserved coral and greet a wide variety of fish, including colourful clown fish, needlefish, damselfish and barracudas in predominantly tubular coral with patches of staghorns and fire coral in between.

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