Perhaps the most underrated part of Mauritius is the Black River Gorges National Park, which is an ideal day's outing from virtually anywhere on the island.
One of the attractions of this region is that on a densely settled island, there isn't much in the way of towns or villages in this area: thus, if you're planning to visit, you'd be well advised to come armed with a picnic. If you're on an all inclusive deal at a hotel resort, then they will pack you a picnic free of charge - alternatively just pick up something en route (bearing in mind that only the larger towns will have supermarkets).
We were particularly impressed by the work that had been undertaken to provide good picnic sites in this park. The one in the main picture is adjacent to the new Visitor's Centre at Pétrin, whilst the other - set amid an atmospheric grove of trees - is just by the gorgeous Alexandra Falls.
I have to confess that it's not often I'd resort to photographing a McDonald's sign, but in this case, it proves a point: a country where McDonalds expressly advertises the fact that it offers non-meat options has to be vegetarian-friendly! [For the record, 'McAloo tikki' is a spicy potato concoction, and the debate about whether standard McDonald's burgers contain anything that could be classified as 'real meat' can be pursed in another forum!]
Mauritius was uninhabited when the first sellers arrives in the 1600s, and today's population is dominantly of Indian heritage as the descendents of slaves who were imported to man the sugar plantations. Because of that cultural background, many Mauritians are vegetarian, and thus local restaurants are familiar with catering for those who don't eat meat.
As Indians form one of the dominant - and rapidly increasing - tourist groups to Mauritius, the hotels are also geared up to cater for vegetarians. Buffet-style catering in most resorts make it easy to pick and choose items that are compatible with your dietary preference. Unsurprisingly, given Mauritius' island setting, pescatorians will find plenty of fish-based options, and also there should be plenty of options for strict vegetarians and vegans (many of which are likely to be Indian-inspired).
I rather like grocery shopping, and when we travel, a visit to local supermarkets is a must. You can learn so much about a culture and an economy just from perusing the shelves (and people's shopping trolleys). Comestibles are some of the most interesting of souvenirs in that thye allow you to 'relive' your trip every time that you cook with them, and - mindful of customs restrictions - can also make the cheapest and most interesting gifts for the folk back home.
The Jumbo hypermarket is located in a northern industrial suburb of Port Louis, a couple of minute's drive to the west of the highway and offers everything that the tourist could want, from groceries and alcohol to tolietries and clothes.
I have to say that we were a bit taken aback by the cost of living on Mauritius: food prices are at least on a par with Western Europe (often more), with a much lower average wage. As you would expect from a small island economy, most of the goods are imported from France, South Africa or India, which obviously brings in an added element of cost.
There is relatively little local produce in evidence: the most obvious was the fabulous range of local sugar products and delicacies such as smoked marlin.
This is a great place to pick up the makings of a picnic if you're heading for a beach or up into the Black River Gorges National Park: although we didn't sample it ourselves, fellow VT member Donna_In_India who visited Mauritius on her honeymoon is a huge fan of their freshly baked bread!
All that, and this stunning view from the front entrance!
We went to this restaurant a couple of Fridays, as this night there is a laid out buffet plus at 21h00 there is a dance/musical show included in the price. The restaurant is owned and run by two French twin brothers, one overlooking the cuisine and the other the main bar and table service. The food is quite remarkable and plenty of it, and as it is a buffet those that are more than peckish can go back for more. Entrée and hors d'oeuvres plus the dessert on one side of the food area and the main dishes on another side. It is better to reserve a table. Drinks must be ordered from a waiter that comes around or you can order anything on the menu if you don't fancy the buffet as you can do the rest of the week.
Price for the buffet is 600 roupies (15€) per person plus VAT and the drinks are not included. Beer starts at around 100 roupies (2.5€) inc VAT.
The web-site given below is , unfortunately, only in French.
Favorite Dish: The entrées are very much "nouvelle cuisine" with plenty of different spices, plus the grilled Marlin is really delicious (save some room for a couple of pieces).
Grand Ocean City is a lovely Chinese Restaurant at the waterfront in Port Loui. On certain days they have a wonton buffet and we were lucky that we visited them on a public holiday which is one of the days that they have this buffet. Absolutely stunning food.
They serve excellent desserts and seafood. It is the best cosy restaurant in Mahebourg; everybody knows it.
Favorite Dish: It is very conveniently located near the airport, fitting for having dinner your last night in the island.
La Ravanne is a wonderful half outdoor half indoor restaurant a stone throw away from the dinarobin hotel. Wonderful food, great wine list and very nice service. Very beautiful setting under the bare starlight sky, overlooking a lagoon and watching small fishingboats go by. Live music and local dance(Sea) performances are showed often and there's a gorgeus waiter at the restaurant called Bruno :)
Expensive but nice. If you wan't you can take a boat for free from the restaurant to the Les Paradis or to the Dinarobin. Try the lamb, it's delicious
Favorite Dish: Lamb was fabulousl, but all seafood is prepared very well, yummy yummy!!
Le Chamarel was easily the best restaurant I visited in Mauritius. The food was excellent and the view was simply out of this world. The restaurant is located a couple of kilometers from the waterfalls and the colored earth of Chamarel. IMHO no visit to those attractions is complete without lunch at this place.
Favorite Dish: The spare ribs were awesome. A huge portion that I simply had to finish as they were so good.
If you want to try typical Mauritian food this is a great place to go. We visited at lunchtime as part of a day trip to Port Louis and Eurika House. It is in an area called Moka.
You enter the restaurant through beautiful gardens and the owner welcomes you onto the outdoor terrace overlooking the garden where you can order drinks before your meal.
The food is a selection of starters and main courses that you can mix together.
Starters were fried aubergine and cheese straws with chilli dip. Main courses were locally made spicy pork sausages, rice, lentils cabbage “shu shu” and chicken with shredded papaya. The desert was papaya with prune and crispy coconut cake. All the food was lovely and we could order small carafes of red or white wine to go with it. Coffee and local orange rum were served to finish.
It is very much a family run restaurant, you feel as though you are eating in somebody’s garden, with the family dog running around and the children chasing it. A lovely experience of local cuisine.
The owners only speak French.
The cost is about Rs600
There is a small shop selling local foods and gifts in the restaurant.
L’Archipel is the main restaurant at Constance Le Prince Maurice Hotel. The location is nice, it is open on two sides overlooking the beach and the sea and the swimming pool with blinds that can be drawn when it is windy or raining.
The food here is not my favourite kind. Although the quality is good the style is very modern French with lots of cream and eggs and silly modifications made to the food for the sake of it. For example foam! Ugh.
It is quite a large restaurant but the service is quite good.
L’Archipel is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner each day. Breakfast is very good. You can have the many dishes from the hot and cold buffet or order specially cooked dishes.
We were on half board rate at the hotel so I don’t know the exact prices except that it will be expensive!
We ate lunch in the bar and it came to £75 for 2 main courses and 2 beers.
Personally I much preferred to eat in Le Barachois (see separate tip) the floating seafood restaurant.
Le Barachois is the floating restaurant at Constance Le Prince Maurice hotel and is set in a stunning location floating on the lagoon. You access the restaurant through the hotel gardens then walk across a series of boarded walkways with lit lookout points along the way where you can stop and watch the fish swimming in the water below. The restaurant itself is a series of small floating covered platforms and if it is not busy you can generally get one of the best tables which are the ones by the edge of the water. Floodlights illuminate the area of water next to each floating platform so you can watch the fish swimming around while you wait for your food.
As expected from a floating restaurant the menu is mainly fish and seafood with the occasional meat dish. The fish is mostly local and freshly caught each day served in Mauritian or European style. The desserts are presented on a trolley with the dish of the day and often something containing a lot of chocolate!
The wine selection is quite good with a variety of South African wines, which are always preferable to the French ones.
Staff are lovely here and because it is only small, are very attentive and friendly. Our waiter pointed out the reef shark that occasionally visited the area around the restaurant and always remembered our preferences for wine.
If you are thinking of staying at the Prince Maurice or just visiting for a meal this restaurant is much much better than the main restaurant L’Archipel.
Le Barachois is only open for dinner between 7.30 and 10.3pm.
We were on half board basis so I don't know the costs but I'm sure it's very expensive - but worth it!
On our way back from Ile aux Aigrettes we asked our driver to take us to a traditional Creole restaurant for lunch, as we had eaten only at our hotel so far. He took us to La Belle Kreole and it was an excellent choice on all levels – great food, lovely location and friendly staff.
It is situated by a river and we sat at a table in the garden enjoying the view, the pretty birds flying about and a cold beer while we waited for our food.
We ordered the local taster menu which gave us a lot of food but allowed us to try lots of different dishes. The starter was called TamTam which was a potato dish, a stew and a fish croquet with spicy sauces on the side. We had a selection of main dishes – Sauteed fish, wild boar hash, chicken and shrimp curry with rice, mango and aubergine. For pudding we tried the banana flambé which was the best I have ever tasted (sorry mum!) served with home made ice cream. After that we had coffee and local rum which I think was spiced with vanilla and cinnamon. The cost was €19 each. Highly recommended if you are in the area of Mahebourg.
Favorite Dish: Banana Flambe was superb! And I'm not much of a pudding eater normally.
This restaurant is located on the waterfront in Grand Baie. Get a table overlooking the beach, have a dodo cocktail and some fish and watch a performance of Sega dancing.
Sega dancing is very soulful and sexy with a lot of hip movement. Only the brightest and most colourful costumes are good enough to dance the Sega. The skirts are long, ruffled and cut very wide to allow for the spinning movements. Dating back to the 18th century when conditions of work for the African slaves were miserable, slaves would numb their unhappiness drinking arrack (from sugarcane), sing and dance the night away to the rhythmic beats of the séga. Instruments accompanying the dance are the guitar, triangle, and ravanne.
Cafe De La Plage is a nice, relaxing setting. You can also stop in for a drink and snack while enjoying life on the water going by.
Seeing a performance of Sega dancing is a must see in Mauritius!
Stop at a superstore (i.e. Jumbo) and head to the bakery. If you arrive just before dinnertime you will see a dozen locals lined up waiting for the fresh, hot baguettes. They are wonderful!! Buy two because you'll eat one before you make it to the check out counter. Pick up some cheese, jams, cold meats and have a delicious dinner. These were our best meals in Mauritius. (Pick up some chocolate croissants for breakfast, too.)
Restaurant Amigo is the best seafood restaurant in the north which I've ever went to.The restaurant offers an exquisite blend of european and creole cuisine.The staff are very nice and polite.Always when going to "amigo",you shouldn't forget to eat the "tresor of recif"and the unforgettable "banane flambe".The decor of the restaurant is imaginative;you can share all your experience of the food on the wall by writting.
Favorite Dish: My favourite dish was the "gratin de fruit mer","tresor du recif", "banane flambe"and as digestif,the home made arranged rhum.The tresor du recif is the best because when you eat it,you want to come the next day and eat it again.As desert,I liked the 'banane flambee';the chef of the restaurant comes infront of your table and share his experience by doing it to you,which is very spectaculer.
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