Virtual Travel Destination: Réunion

Last week, we were in Mali.

This week, we are going to Réunion, a french island in the Indian Ocean. Neighbors are Madagascar and Mauritius.



Above map courtesy of wikipedia.


Capital: Saint-Denis

Official Language: French

Other languages spoken: Réunion Creole, Mandarin, Hakka, Cantonese, Urdu, Gujarati, Tamil, Arabic.

Continent: NA (The closest continent is Africa)

Currency: Euro

(as of 10/25/2014)

“Administratively, Réunion is one of the overseas departments of France. Like the other overseas departments, Réunion is also one of the 27 regions of France (being an overseas region) and an integral part of the Republic with the same status as those situated on the European mainland.

Réunion is an outermost region of the European Union and, as an overseas department of France, is part of the Eurozone.”

Reunion Island

According to,

This wildly beautiful and rugged volcanic island (with a very active volcano), was uninhabited when discovered by the Portuguese in the early 16th century.

In 1643 it was claimed by the French. They named it Bourbon and established their first colony here in 1662. In the years that followed, slaves from Africa were imported to work the sugar plantations.

The island was renamed Reunion in 1793, and it remained a French colony, except for a brief British occupation from 1810 to 1815.

Over time, French immigration, supplemented by influxes of Africans, Chinese, Malays, and Malabar Indians, gave the island its ethnic mix.

The island’s economy is dominated by the sugarcane industry, and its main exports include sugar, seafood, rum, and vanilla. Tourism, especially from Europe, is a significant economic factor.

Aside from the export industry and tourism, the music scene in Reunion seem to be thriving.

Cilaos is a town and commune on the French island of Réunion in the Indian Ocean.

According to the Reunion Island Official Tourism site,

Reunion music is based on two original styles, with deep roots: maloya and Sega. Maloya looks like a ternary blues.
Music of Afro-Malagasy slaves, it has long perpetuated in secret. Today, this music is appropriated and enriched by everyone and it is sometimes married with other rhythms: rock, reggae. It can be assimilated to the moring, traditional battle dance that came out of the shadow. More European by its rhythms and instruments, the Sega is the dance of all the festivities.
Reunion Island counts nowadays hundreds of bands and a large discography. The notoriety of some artists has even transcended the boundaries of the island: Danyel Waro, Davy Sicard, Salem Tradition, Granmoun Lele, Meddy Gerville Ziskakan, Baster, René Lacaille, Nathalie Natiembé, Zong, Pat’Jaune.

What about food? What do people in Reunion eat?

According to

The plethora of races and nationalities has contributed to the integration of cuisines from India, China, France, Madagascar and the African mainland making the local food, interesting and exotic…

Eating is one of the favourite activities of Réunionese and mealtimes are family occasions. The regional specialty is ‘cari’, a truly Creole dish in which many ingredients are simmered together. On Réunion, the cari is made using Indian spices and local ingredients like meat, poultry, fish or seafood and contains garlic, onion, plenty of tomatoes, turmeric, cloves and ginger. Caris are best eaten with boiled rice, the blandness of which helps soothe the fieriness of the rougail, an accompaignment to the dish.

The favourite special dishes of the islanders are carri bichique, carri tangue (a cousin of our hedgehog) and wasp larvae served in a dish called rougail. Traditional Indian, Chinese and French food is available at the many restaurants and cafes in Réunion that also serve good local (vin de Cilaos – sweet and Mmmmm!) and French wines. Of course one must not forget the beer “bourbon” which is more often called ‘dodo’.

As much as I love a good meal, I am not adventurous enough to eat carri tangue yet. Or ever. But I am down for some good vin and some “dodo”. 🙂

Reunion sounds like an amazing place to visit. Although this may not be much of a secret for Europeans, I don’t think the rest of the world know much of this beautiful island. I love that this is not really a secret, but it is a secret type of place. I would love to visit Reunion one of these days.

Saint Pierre, Reunion

Have you been to Reunion? Do you live there. Want to share what it’s like to live there?

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