Night owls don't hold back: discover "Saint-Denis by night"" The trip starts with a game of bowling or an aperitif in one of the bars in the town centre. In terms of restaurants, the capital has something to suit all palettes: of course we have Creole cuisine, but also Indian, Japanese, Moroccan, Lebanese, Vietnamese and even vegetarian! Then, we'll head off to the casino with its 80 slot machines and other games of chance to entertain you before hitting the nightclubs. Are you more into funk or contemporary music? Or do you prefer reggae or electro? It will be a big night out.
The capital is also alive during the day. The city of Saint-Denis alone houses around one third of Reunion Island's 130 historical monuments. To discover them, sign up for a guided tour of the Rue de Paris, offered by the North Island Intercommunal Tourist Office. Complete your visit with a stroll through the streets of the city centre and immerse yourself in the the ambiance of a 19th century Creole town house, by visiting the Maision Carrère. An absolute must-see.
If you prefer to take to the high ground... head off to the mountains for a game of golf. Another district, another vibe: the village of Brulé welcomes you for a shiatsu head massage and a green tea, sipped in the great outdoors at the Spa Liza Case Zen, or a visit to the Creole garden at La Vallée Heureuse. The owner will personally accompany you on a visit lasting around two hours !
Saint-Denis is also known for its numerous hikes: Sentier de la Providence, Chemin des Anglais, Pic Adam, Roche Ecrite, the Maniquet waterfall, etc. As regards the accommodation offer, it covers all types, from bed and breakfast through to four star hotels.
The history of Saint-Denis
In 1669, Etienne Régnault, the first governor of the île Bourbon, as Reunion Island was formerly known, decided to transfer his residence from Saint-Paul to Saint-Denis. Saint-Denis experienced a boom in 1738, becoming the island's capital. Situated on the North of the island, it has 146,709 inhabitants (2012 census) with a total surface area of 14,279 hectares. It is also Reunion Island's administrative, financial and economic capital. An attractive hub, one third of the island's commercial, industrial, service and artisan businesses are based in Saint-Denis. The capital also has a regional university, a conference centre and a technological research activity hub. Over the course of centuries, Saint-Denis has known how to preserve its history and heritage, while embracing the future to become the premier French Overseas city, both through its demographic dynamism and its cultural influence.
Museums and trips in Saint-Denis
All of the museums in the North of the island are found in Saint-Denis. With the exception of the Musée de la Vraie Fraternité, which is situated on the boulevard de la Providence, they are all located on the rue de Paris. The Musée de la Vraie Fraternité is devoted to the Catholic religion and the good work carried out by sisters of the congregation. Clockwork figures show the work carried out by the sisters for lepers.
The Musée Léon Dierx, which was the bishop's palace until 1912, is dedicated to early 20th century art and sculpture. This museum is especially well-known for its collection of works by masters, having belonged to the famous art dealer, Ambroise Vollard.
The Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle [Natural History Museum], which is situated in the Jardin de l’Etat, houses temporary exhibitions on the ground floor while the first floor offers a permanent exhibition on the flora and fauna of the islands in the Indian Ocean. You can also see a skeleton of the dodo… L’Artothèque houses a permanent exhibition of contemporary paintings and sculptures. It exhibits one-off contemporary works (sculptures, paintings, photographs...) Finally, the Maison Carrère offers an exhibition on life in Reunion Island in the 19th century. It is not a museum as such, but a Creole town house that is open to the public. It also houses the Tourist Office.
Religion in Saint-Denis
In particular the capital offers two Chinese temples on the same street, (Temple de la Traversée Heureuse and Temple de la Prospérité Eternelle), the Tamil temple of Kalikambal and the Grand Mosque Masdid Noor-e-Islam. In order to better appreciate the richness of religions in Reunion Island, a guided visit is organised every Saturday morning. Finally, a visit to the Saint-Sauveur Cathedral is a must.
Leisure and relaxation in Saint-Denis
Parc de la Trinité
Place your bets... no further bets! The inhabitants of Reunion Island just love a game of chance.