4 stunning Mauritius town gardens
The Mauritian palette is not restricted to ocean blues and sunny yellows. The deep green of the island’s volcanic interior shines just as brightly in the tropical Mauritius town gardens.
First stop, Port Louis. Amid its tall buildings and traffic jams is the Company Gardens at La Chausée, a picturesque place where street vendors sell their wares on a pavement alongside the park: they will hail you gently on the way, offering typical Mauritian street food to enjoy on a bench under the trees.
Starting its life as a vegetable patch, this garden is named after the Compagnie des Indes, to which it belonged in French colonial times. In 1814, it hosted the Port Louis bazaar which was razed to the ground in a fire and then reconstructed as the ‘Fortune Market’. Today, huge banyan trees tower over the main alley, providing welcome shade to visitors and office employees, who visit the garden for a lunchtime stroll past the dozens of statues, including those of Ti-Frére, the father of Mauritian sega, and Adrien d’Epinay, a lawyer who helped found the first independent newspaper in Mauritius.
Robert Edward Hart Garden
Next up is the Robert Edward Hart botanical garden in Les Salines, south of Port Louis. The place is so tranquil it’s hard to believe it lies less than 15 minutes from the city centre. In the past, Les Salines was a very popular hangout for French colonists, until they fled during cholera epidemics. But many years later in the early 20th century, the then Lord Mayor of Port Louis made Les Salines a recreation area open to all, with city administrators often using it for informal meetings with Port Louis citizens. Bands would play in the garden kiosk while children ran around the palm trees and bougainvillea.
Today, the garden remains a meeting place for residents and children still enjoy their playground. Also within Les Salines are various worship places including the Catholic Chapel of St Jean de Britto, Kwan Tee (the first pagoda to be built on the island) and the Kovil, a colourful Tamil temple.
Outside the capital, our next stop is at Beau-Bassin in the Plaines Wilhems district. Here, Balfour Garden is a magnet for families who love to spend a relaxed afternoon admiring the century-old tortoises or the ponds of tropical fish, amid the song of colourful indigenous birds. Stop and admire the superb view over the waterfall and its lush gorges, a favourite spot for newlyweds’ photo sessions. Next to the garden is Mount Tabor, a bright white villa owned by the Diocese of Port Louis. Mount Tabor is a place for retreat and meditation and hosted Pope John Paul II during his visit to Mauritius in 1989.
Curepipe Botanic Gardens
The final stop is in Curepipe, where cooler temperatures prevail, especially at the town’s botanic garden which extends over two hectares. It’s home to rare species such as the Hyophorbe amaricaulis, the world’s last living specimen of this unique palm tree. The garden also hosts other species of palm tree, the endangered tambalacoque tree and impressive ferns. If you have a keen eye, you’ll also spot endemic species such as ebony, the Fangame or Coffee myrtifolia. The garden’s Victorian gazebo dates to British colonisation and as the second largest botanical garden in Mauritius after the SSR Botanical Garden in Pamplemousses, it still attracts botanists and nature lovers.
For more off-radar places to visit on the island, check out our feature on the top 5 hidden spots in Mauritius.