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» 01 Mar 2010

Many visitors arriving on the beautiful island of Mauritius head straight to the capital city
of Port Louis.

As the largest city and main port, it is the economic center of the island and includes the boroughs of Chinatown, Plaine Verte,Vallee Pitot, Tranquebar, and Ward IV.

Whether you are a history buff, a nature lover, an avid shopper, or someone who craves cultural pursuits, you will find enough attractions and entertainment options to keep you busy and fill several days or even weeks. The History of Port Louis Port Louis originated during an era of pirates and adventure on the high seas.The city was founded in 1735 as a French port where ships sailing around the Cape of Good Hope could resupply. It is named in honor of King Louis XV, who appointed the first governor, Count Bertrand-François Mahé de La Bourdonnais.

In recognition of his contribution to Port Louis' reputation as a vital French naval base, a statue of La Bourdonnais' likeness graces the entrance at Place d'Armes. When the British came along in 1835 they built Fort Adelaide, also called La Citadelle, to fortify Port Louis during their governance which spanned the period from the early 1800s until 1968.The fort still stands today and is a popular attraction. Slavery was officially abolished shortly thereafter and laborers from India and China were hired to cultivate sugar cane, which was made into rum. Port Louis' World Heritage site, Immigration Depot, commemorates this time period and the immigrants who are the ancestors of many of today's Mauritians.

What to See and Do

The best place to begin sightseeing in Port Louis is the Place D'Armes entrance.As mentioned, the statue of first governor La Bourdonnais can be found here along with the remains of a few original structures.

Entering through the Place D'Armes will take you on a northsouth route through town and directly past the first government building, the cathedrals of St. Louis and St. James, the covered stalls of Port Louis Bazaar in the city's bustling center, and several museums. With a city so rich in diverse heritage, it is not surprising to find that Port Louis contains a thriving China Town.

What is surprising is the number of descendants of the island's original labor force who still dress and peak in the traditional Chinese manner. China Town is home to dozens of tiny shops crowded into the buildings lining its streets. Shoppers can find everything from fine artwork to medicine and kitschy souvenirs.

Port Louis is surrounded by mountains. Popular with visitors is a hike up the 300-meter high Signaux mountain. From its apex, there is a fantastic view of the ocean, the Port Louis Waterfront, and some of the remaining historical architecture that graces the city.

Museum lovers will enjoy a visit to The Mauritius Institute, which showcases native plants and animals of the island. A stop at the Mauritius Stamp Museum, the Mauritius Natural History Museum, and the Blue Penny Museum will also delight anyone wanting to learn more about the island, its culture, and its istory.

The Caudan Waterfront offers modern entertainment. This is the place where the famous and semifamous choose to hang out during their stay in Mauritius. Featuring a luxury hotel and a casino along with its own restaurants, bars, and stores, there is little need for the elite to venture further into the city.

The Caudan Waterfront is a great place to people-watch and enjoy a bit of nightlife. Visitors to Port Louis July through November will surely want to make plans to attend a Saturday horse race at the Champ de Mars racecourse, established in 1812. The best local eateries can be found along busy Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Street. A wide range of cuisines will tempt any palate.

While July through September are favored months,weather-wise, the city sees travelers year round. Warm, clear days beg visitors to take advantage of the many activities and magnificent views around Port Louis.

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