La Possession, Réunion

March 2, 2010

Rèunion is one of the departments of France, and as we learned in team trivia the other day, it is the first place to have the Euro as legal tender, as it is in a time zone east of the rest of Europe.   Rèunion is located in the Indian ocean, to the east of Madagascar.  It is a lush, tropical volcanic island which is fairly young (in geological terms).  It has one volcano over on the southeast part of the island that is still active, and one in the center of the island called Piton des Neiges, which last erupted 20,000 years ago.  At 10,000 feet above sea level this volcano is the tallest point in the Indian Ocean.

We docked at La Possession, the main harbor, on the northwest corner of the island.  Since the island is largely mountainous, the main road around the island runs along the coast, and is usually jammed with traffic.  The steepness of the mountains, in combination with their propensity to shed rocks and dirt has resulted in huge blankets of gigantic steel “chain mail” being put in place on the mountains to protect the coastal roads.

Our tour was scheduled to go the Salazie Falls area to see some of the many gorgeous waterfalls on the island.  We started the day out needing a different bus because of non-functional air conditioning on the first one, and we also ended up with a substitute guide.  Our first destination was a vanilla plantation, where we saw the plants growing, and learned something about the process of getting vanilla ready for sale.  We got to taste some vanilla rum, which was quite nice.

From there we drove up to the Salazie area, which required our large bus to navigate many tight hairpin turns.  We made one stop to let our bus rest:  our guide told us it was a ‘downhill’ bus, not an ‘up-hill’ bus.  The view was beautiful, so it was a nice stop.  Our goal was to reach the major waterfall, known as Bridal Veil Falls.  There are many single waterfalls all over the island.  Bridal Veil is at least half a dozen small falls that come together at the bottom.  It is not spectacular the way some of the really large ones are, but it is beautiful, and in a spectacular setting.  

From the falls we continued on the switch-back roads, through the village of St. Andre, until we reached Village d’Hell-Bourg, where we were scheduled to have lunch.  We walked down the main street to the hotel, and then found out that they would not be ready for us for another thirty minutes.  Some people opted to use the time for shopping.  Lunch was worth the wait.  The food was Creole, and was nice.  We had wine that we are certain was locally made.  There was a blush and a red, and they were both very nice.

Following lunch we drove back down the mountains past the Bridal Veil Falls and other ones, and our bus proved itself to be a good down-hill bus.  Before heading back to the port, we stopped in the capital city of Saint Denis, for shopping time at a local craft market.  They had many nice items for sale, including beautifully done embroidery.

There is more to see on Rèunion than we had time for on this visit.  There is a lot of coastline and an active volcano to see.  Our captain had thought to sail by the volcano, but since there was no lava flow to be seen, he decided against sailing by it.  The only negatives we found here were the intense traffic on the coastal road and that English is not commonly spoken here.  For that reason a guided tour is a good idea here unless you speak French.  The island is definitely worth a visit.

There are a few additional photos in the album.

                                                        Bridal Veil Falls

© Susan L. Stone 2015