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» 01 Feb 2011

 Shaded by magnificent gardens and orchards,the Château de Labourdonnais is one of the most beautiful traditional Creole houses of its time. This private property has been opened to the public since October 2010 after four years of restoration and offers an enchanting tour into the lifestyle of nineteenth century Mauritius


A visit to the Château de Labourdonnais has now become a must. Lovingly restored, the château offers the opportunity to have a glimpse of life in the olden days of Mauritius. Since 2006, Jacques Wiehe  a great greatgrandson of the original owner and a qualified architect – has led a carefully selected team of local craft people to bring this jewel of the Mauritian heritage to its original state.

In order to make the visit more engaging and insightful, the services of Claude Fauque and Alexander Fruh, both from France, were requested. Ms Fauque is a museologist whose talents are widely recognized in Mauritius, where she has contributed in the creation of the Blue Penny Museum and the Aventure du Sucre. Alexander Fruh, a theatre and stage designer specializing in museums’ conception and temporaries exhibitions, has based his approach on enhancing shapes, light and sound.

The visit begins at the impressive driveway lined with centenaries ‘intendance’ trees leading to the main entrance. On the ground floor, the visitor first encounters the large dining room with its hand-painted wall-     paper reflecting a hunting scenery.     Strolling along the rear veranda, they are led back to the main lobby to visit the Grand Salon.The set design will capture the visitor’s attention with the choice of furniture and decorative trends of the time.The staircase leads to the upstairs master bedroom, decorated in true Victorian style.     

The top veranda, from where one can admire the gardens and the old sugar mill, will bring the visitors to different showrooms. Through an inventive set design, these rooms offer an insight on the historical development of the island before 1850, on the Wiehe family history, on the 150 years history of the estate and finally on the actual activities of the domain, with the orchards and rum distillery.

After the visit of the château, one can venture into the gardens and the old orchards where large alleys tempt you for a stroll or a romantic promenade. Besides endemic plants, the park contains some fifty varieties of old mango trees, spices such as nutmeg and clove, and many other exotic fruit trees. Beyond lies big orchards whose fruits – papaya, mango, guava or passion fruit – are used in the manufacture of a range of jellies, juice and sorbets with no added artificial flavors and colours. At the “Bar de degustation”, the visitors are entitled to savor freely some of these delicious products labeled “Labourdonnais”.

A brand new industry on the domain, the Rhumerie des Mascareignes is also included on the tour. Totem      poles outside the edifice provide information on the production processes of agricultural rums that are much appreciated on the island. The fine alcohols produced at the distillery are available at the Boutique du Château.     

La Table du Château, a gourmet restaurant is the next step to appreciate the products of the domain.The
chef has designed a creative menu, drawing his inspiration from the seasonal fruits and vegetables from the
orchards. Visitors will also be able to taste the fruit jellies and jams of the domain over a cup of tea or hot chocolate in a pleasant shaded area in the garden. Set in a contemporary and romantic décor, La Table du
Château will be ideal for Valentine’s day offering a special menu for the occasion.

At the contemporary Boutique du Château, visitors will be able to get some exclusives souvenirs from a      range of carefully selected and fine      products from the estate and local     artisans.     

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