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MAURITIUS DISCOVERY
» 04 May 2016
DISCOVERY

HISTORY
The Labourdonnais Estate founded in 1771 is one of the largest agricultural lands owned by sugar planters through many generations. The property is at the same time a tribute to Mahé de Labourdonnais, one of the greatest and famous French governors who endeavoured to promote the Mauritian soil that was from the very start a concession, then agricultural estate. The property has always been among the most innovative ones of its time. The property was originally a concession granted in 1774 to two young orphans, Marie Louise and Henriette Tréouart de Longpré. Mr. Jean Baptiste Germain bought a plot of land in 1814 and built the first sugar mill. In 1821, Mr. Jacques de Chastegnier Du Mée bought the estate and extended the 186 acres property. At his death in 1829, the land had reached 1400 acres. Named Labourdonnais around the year 1839, it then became the property of his two daughters: Mrs. Aubin and Mrs. Bourgault whose daughter Emilie later inherited the estate. She was married to Christian Wiehe, a distinguished personality of Mauritian life. His business acumen helped him become an influential person and in 1856 he decided to organize the construction of the Château at the heart of this magnificient estate. Situated in the north of the island it occupies a prominent position on a sugar estate, also famous for its orchards.
RESTORATION OF THE CHATEAU
After nearly 150 years of existence, the Château began to suffer the wearing effect of time. The house was always inhabited by members of the Wiehe family until 2006 when the board of directors entrusted Jacques Wiehe, a professional architect, the task to restore the château to its original aspect. Alongside with the initial restoration work, the Compagnie Agricole de Labourdonnais proposed the idea of a project for a cultural development of the château and its estate. Claude Fauque, expert in museology and Alexandre Fruh, renowned French theatre and stage designer were contacted so as to determine the theme to be developed. The restoration was completed in 2010 and the château which was a real legend of its time together with its surrounding orchards now invite the public to discover for themselves
the aspects of the island’s history in the XIXth Century. Very few estates in Mauritius have managed to preserve the character of yesteryear but Labourdonnais still belongs to the same family and through a visit along this unique and magic place and via a series of explanatory texts and interactive displays, one is invited to explore the elegant lifestyle of the colonial era and the rhythm of life on sugar plantations and discover its economic activities.
THE VISIT OF THE HOUSE
A visit to the Château starts with the avenue of majestic intendances trees that sweeps around a large water fountain and up to the residence’s main entrance. Visitors then discover the entrance hallway, with its gorgeous inlay work, and the large airy dining room, adorned with exquisite hand-painted wallpaper depicting panoramic landscapes as well as a beautiful Baccarat crystal chandelier. Beyond are the servants’ quarters, once the dominion of governess and cooks; the drawing room with its ornate antique furniture monogrammed with their owners’ initials, and finally the master of the house’s office. On the first floor, visitors enter the vast master bedroom, decorated and furnished in Victorian style. Annexed exhibition spaces acquaint visitors with the history and economy of Mauritius, an overview of the Wiehe family history and the estate’s 150 years of operation as well as the activities today.
AN ESTATE LONGING TO BE DISCOVERED
Besides the house, other attractions are available on the estate including a rum distillery, La Distillerie des Mascareignes, a souvenir shop, the ancient gardens and a restaurant. The Distillerie de Labourdonnais Forms part of the visit but cannot be visited entirely due to security measures. Built in 2006 it is specialized in agricultural rums, which are marketed under two separate brands: Classic and Fusion, same is available at the tasting bar where the tour ends and for sale at the gift shop.
Group activities consist of: Château visit with the historic orchard followed by tasting.
The Labourdonnais Express: Tour of the big orchards, nursery garden and vanilla greenhouse by train or coach/ minibus followed by tasting.
Blind tasting/ smelling session: To discover the different flavours of the estate by putting your palate and sense of smell to the test (juice, sorbet, fruit pastes).
Rum making activity: Creating your own flavoured rum with sugar cane juice infused with fruits and spices and take home your souvenir. A large choice of other activities are also available (Treasure Hunt, rally, etc.) and can be created for your groups.

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