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MAURITIUS DISCOVERY
» 01 Jun 2008
THE TEA ROUTE

On touring Mauritius, one soon becomes aware of the country's rich colonial past.
The Tea Route, which comprises a unique trip through the chapters of history, allows us to explore this facet of the island in an intimate and exciting way. It takes visitors along a captivating escapade, revealing the prominent legacies of both British and French rules as well as the little secrets of the island.

The excursion starts at Curepipe with a visit of 'Domaine des Aubineaux', one of the few archetypal colonial houses remaining in Mauritius. Built in 1872, the lovingly preserved house allows us to appreciate typical old French colonial architecture. Myriam Guimbeau, who died in 1999 at the age of 92, was the last person to inhabit the premises. Covering an area of 746 square meters over 30 acres of land, the Domaine brings history to life and unveils colonial lifestyle. The welcoming open veranda, for example, illustrates a way of life cherished by Europeans in tropical countries.


The authentic furniture from olden gone inspires admiration as well as nostalgia. Walking along the first-ever colonial corridor, we are led to the main bedroom where we ehold French style furniture in wooden cinnamon, mahogany and Brazilian rosewood. The dining room is no less magnificent: the main table, made of massive oak, easily accommodates 30 people and the tapestry and paintings reveal the Guimbeau family's taste for hunting.

The house still keeps many a secret: during recent restoration work, paintings were discovered on the wooden partition in the lobby. These are the work of Italian artists who were living on the island at the beginning of the century. The colourful Persian and Turkish carpets merge harmoniously with the massive wooden structures to exude both beauty and power. A visit would be incomplete without a stroll in the luxuriant garden which presents a variety of plants from different origins. There is something magnetic about the refreshingly cool atmosphere and the huge trees whose rustling leaves convey tranquility.

The last stop is at 'Le Saint  Aubin', a plantation house built in 1819 and recently converted into a 'table d'hôte'. There, we discover traditional Mauritian lifestyle and enjoy delicious local dishes. The tropical garden around the house allows us to behold exotic plants, endemic to the south of Mauritius. The visit is not complete without
a stop at the anthurium and vanilla greenhouses as well as the rum distillery, where one is enlightened on the history and production of these local products. An additional bonus that will not fail to please some, is the sampling of the Mauritian agricultural rum before ending the tour.


This informative and enchanting trip tinged with flavours, colours and secrets will certainly delight both adults and children. It pleasantly uncovers the traditional side of Mauritius allowing visitors to develop a close connection to the island.   

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