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» 01 Jul 2010

Mahebourg is a delightful blend of the old and new, with some buildings originating back to the 1800’s interspersed with modern island architecture. This historic port city was once the capital of Mauritius and is an excellent home base for your island vacation. This laid back, friendly city is a main fishing centre on the island but fishing is not necessarily the primary draw for tourists and other visitors.

The allure of Mahebourg’s attractive waterfront lies with views of the majestic Lion Mountain and its pristine blue lagoon in the distance.

A Brief History Founded originally by Dutch colonists around 1805, Mahebourg was named after a popular French governor Ber trand-Francois Mahé de La Bourdonnais during the French colonial period in history. The Dutch chose to colonise the site because of its proximity to abundant water supplies, namely nearby streams and rivers. It served as an excellent port city for trade. However, it was the Battle of Grand Port in 1810 that truly defined the port of Mahebourg.

The British tried to take over the entire island of Mauritius and failed, thanks to the French efforts to protect it. Eventually, the French chose Port Louis as their primary port, relegating Mahebourg to a small town with fishing and tourism as its primary commerce. Still, this historic city boasts the best of its founding fathers with the wide streets and hints of the Dutch and French influence in the architecture, particularly in the old areas of Mahebourg.

The waterfront, while not boasting beaches, has been developed and is now a huge draw for visitors. It is perfect for a stroll at sunset and there is even a pavilion to rest and enjoy the view. Things to See and Do Perhaps one of the most interesting draws to Mahebourg is the Naval Museum housed in a restored colonial French mansion that once served as a medical base during the 1810 war. Two of the three floors of the mansion house artefacts from historic battles
on the island.

View the cannons, swords and other weaponry from the war in addition to wreckage from ships. There is even a restored village settlement on site so that you can see the lifestyle of the settlers from several centuries ago. Biscuit Factory, dating back to 1870 has been in the Rault family since its inception and produces square, crispy cookies using a secret recipe without the implements of modern technology.

You can tour the factory located on the outskirts of Mahebourg and even sample their wares! History and architectural buffs can visit the Notre Dame des Anges Church, built in 1849. The timbers of the roof are quite grand and the statues are interesting too. Some of the locals even present offerings to the statues. The view from the tower spires provides a picturesque look  at Mahebourg and the waterfront.

Another popular draw is the longest spanning bridge on the island which connects both banks of the La Chaux River. There is also the maritime monument on the coast of Mahebourg which honours those fallen in the naval battle in 1810. And thanks to the progressive development of the tourism industry, the new casino near the beautiful waterfront offers bright lights and entertainment.

There are also a number of nature  activities to consider when visiting Mahebourg. You can take rides in glass bottom boats to neighbouring islands or snorkel in the clear waters to check out the sea life. Coral diving is popular as are visits to the Grand Waterfall nearby. The Lion Mountain area offers exploring such as hiking and nature tours. You can also witness additional local wildlife and flora at the Airgettes Bird Sanctuary. To see the sights of the area, you can walk to most destinations or hop on one of the buses that travel throughout the small city. If you want to see the sights on your own, you can hire a car or even rent a motorcycle or bicycle. Of course, you can also explore nearby waters and islands by boat.

If you want a Mauritius home base during your vacation, then Mahebourg can be a great choice. Because it is not a beach town, you will not have to fight crowds but you still get to enjoy the sea thanks to its beautiful waterfront and clear blue lagoon waters. Mahebourg offers a blend of cultures present in the population and in the entertainment and eateries in the city.

You can find Indian, Creole, Chinese, Dutch, German, French and other European influences. The city also boasts some great shopping, thanks to the local shops and weekly flea market where you can get some excellent souvenirs.

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