What is the place, beside the beaches, where you see most of the tourists in Mauritius? It has to be the the Port Louis Market, called also the Central Market. Why is that? Because it is a fascinating place to discover the local products and the local people looking for the best deals.
It is not a market dedicated to the tourists, in fact the people working there do not even bother asking you if you need anything. I guess the main reason is that most of the tourists stay in resorts where they have a wide choice of fruit and veggies. I was there with Mauritian friends and I was really surprised to discover that people come from all over the island because this market has the best quality and price you can find in Mauritius.
I read on few guides that there is not much else in Port Louis to see and I strongly disagree. You can spend easily a day in the capital without getting bored. You can even walk up to an incredible viewpoint where, on a good day, you can almost see all of the west coast down to the Le Morne peninsula.
Let’s see some of the points of interest and at the bottom of the post a full map with the walking direction
Port Louis Market
This is the most famous place as we just talked about, where you will be most likely to find a good number of tourists mixed with the locals that are bargaining for the best deal.
Why coming here? The best answer is just to wander around and discover that exotic fruits and vegetables that are hard to find at home (unless you live in La Reunion of course LOL). There is plenty of photography possibility. I did ask every time before taking a photo and I was never said no. Everybody looks pretty cool.
There are three important tips for the Port Louis Market:
- you can eat directly at the market. There is a section where they make sandwiches, roti (a flat Indian bread rolled with veggies or meat inside, usually spicy), dholl puri (another flat bread) and so much more. The price is ridiculously low (50c of an Aussie dollar each) and the quality is just great. The vanilla drinks are phenomenal. I used to take the longer queue, it always paid off (the more locals are there the better food should be, at least I hoped)
- take the stair to the first level. There are plenty of balconies where you can take panoramic photos
- go to the meat and fish market. This is a different building across the road, towards the sea. It looks like a bike depot from outside but it is indeed a market. It does look dodgy from outside and this can explain why there are no tourists inside. It is instead a great place to see a complete different kind of action. Stop and talk with the sellers before taking a photo, they all love to have a chat
You can spend easily 2 hours at the Port Louis Market or even 3, including a break for your lunch
The Jummah Masjid mosque was another highlight for me. I had the possibility to visit most of the accessible rooms including the rooftop which was quite spectacular.
Once in, I was approached by one of the elderlies of the mosque which explained me how the mosque works (I am quite ignorant in religions I must say). I asked him if I could make few photos and he took me in a private tour to visit every corner of the mosque. I was the happiest man in Port Louis.
The main door to the Jummah mosque in Mauritius
R.Adam, the knowledgeable guide that took me through the Jummah mosque in mauritius
I had really a great time, listening, learning and understanding the local customs. Moreover I could take some great photos, probably some of the best documentary pictures I took in the island
Read the full story about the Jummah Masjid visit with more unique pictures inside the building
There is nowadays a Chinatown in any major city in the world and Port Louis has a Chinese area as well. No more Latin letters and somehow different architecture.
It is just few hundred meters though, nothing to call back home about
This is the touristy area of Port Louis. Most of the people visiting the area are tourists coming from the Mauritian resorts here to buy some gifts. It has to be said that few of the artists exposing at the art market were really impressive, there is no mass production made in China stuff here. It is definitely worth a walk in the area.
In Caudan you also find few of the clothes shops you see in the island. I am talking about the several outlets scattered around Mauritius. Do they have better prices than at home? Well, the production is made locally and the quality is really good. Price wise I found it similar to Australia or Europe, so probably you will not find the bargain but just some honest buy made in Mauritius
It is the most attractive garden in the city with huge banyan trees all around, some quiet benches and a fountain. Definitely a cool place to have a break and a drink
The Supreme Court
The building is very British and old style. Why having a walk here? Because it is the Supreme Court of Mauritius. Ask and you will be let in, no worries. Actually an interesting and unusual walk
St Louis Cathedral
The Saint Louis Cathedral is one of the oldest church in the island. It was finished to built in 1814/15 and promoted to Cathedral in 1847.
The construction of the church has however a long history that goes back to the year 1736 when the original plans were made. The church building was completed in 1756, but it was never used for worship. The edifice was actually used by the army during the Seven Years’ War (1756 – 1763) and it was severely damaged by two violent cyclones. It was than rebuilt in different phases and completed in 1815
One thing you can easily find in Mauritius is an organised resort. At first I was looking into it as an option and I found that Hotels Combined offered the best packages. In saying that, at the end I decided to go for 2 bed and breakfast because they both gave me more freedom with my timing and my photography. I did not really want to be stressed when out on a sunset (usually at the same time of dinner).
I decided to spend the first week on the south-west coast. From there I could see the southern part of the island, the Black River Gorges National Park, Grand Bassin and the capital of Mauritius, Port Louis.
After some investigation I decided to book Marlin Creek in Riviere Noire. Cristophe and Ingrid, the owners, were just two stars on earth. Super friendly and always providing advices on things to do and discover. It is in the middle of the Riviere Noir village where I could find few restaurants for the night. Freshly cooked breakfast was waiting in the morning, which was a great plus 😀
The room I had was spacious and really well cleaned. Difficult to find anything that did not work. Great experience
The second week I was up north where I believe you can find the best beaches of Mauritius. From there I could also visit the north route up to Grand Gaube and the Grand Baie area.
I booked at the Bleu De Toi Boutique Guest House in Pereybere. It was a real heaven. I stayed in the Hope room, in front of the garden and the swimming pool (I love my early morning swim) and it was just awesome. Great big breakfast too, anything you want just ask. I really liked the décor all around the guest house, I felt like in the perfect creole place. It’s not really located in the centre of Pereybere. You need a 10 minutes walk for either the public beach or the restaurants which was not a big deal to me anyway.
I personally suggest to book the accommodation in Mauritius in advance. Too hard to get around and on-line you get the best deals
Please note that I do not have any affiliations with both guest house owners, I just had a great stay
Travel and photography tips
- In the Port Louis Market use the lowest f-value available on your lenses. I used an f/1.8 and ISO 400 and it was just great, no need of flash which is quite annoying in this kind of photography
- Visit the fish & meat section of the Port Louis Market. Plenty of opportunity for some great photography
- Walk up at the first floor of the Port Louis Market for some panoramic photography
- Have a talk with the elderlies of the mosque and you may be offered a private tour
- The cheapest and best food for lunch is at the Port Louis Market
- If you come by car, parking may be a pain the a%$. The city has a scratch card system that you need to leave on the front of the car. You better park in Caudan for a flat fee or around the Champs de Mars where it is free and unlimited (see map below)
- Just wander around the city to have a look of the local life, the local shops and the local people
- Walk on top of the Signal Mountain Road for an incredible view of the city and the west coast of Mauritius. It is a 4km walk/climb
- I did not see or search for any accommodation in the city and honestly there are so many dreamy places in the island that I would not suggest to sleep in the city
More info about Mauritius
Map of attractions in Port Louis – Mauritius