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Culinary road trip on Reunion Island

the road to taste 

 

 

 

From the heights of its craggy cirques to the depths of its azure-blue waters, Reunion is a generous haven of natural riches.

Besides the beautiful scenery, there’s the famous, welcoming Creole gastronomy, enhanced by culinary influences from around the world. All of this results in a whole array of colourful flavours that reflect the island’s harmonious melting pot of cultures.

Fancy exploring Reunion Island through its mouthwatering food? Prepare for a culinary road trip on the ultimate island and send your tastebuds reeling! 

A culinary road trip by Néogusto

1. Salazie and the East Cost

Chayote, waterfalls and vanilla plantations: welcome to the Cirque of Salazie and the East coast

This culinary road trip on Reunion Island plunges you into the revitalising and bewitching atmosphere of the Cirque of Salazie which you’ll reach by the road that borders the Indian Ocean from Saint-Denis.

Here, water is everywhere, flowing between waterfalls, natural pools and winding rivers. Keep your eyes (and ears) wide open! Along this road there’s a surprise around every corner, such as the Blanche and Voile de la Mariée waterfalls. No doubt about it, you’re in the land of waterfalls… and chayote! Found everywhere here, this cucurbit variety will definitely be on the restaurant menu as it’s THE speciality of the Cirque of Salazie!

After visiting the lovely village of Hell Bourg and walking to the old thermal baths, you’ll go back to the car and leave the land of waterfalls behind. Next stop: the East coast and its black gold, Bourbon vanilla! The coastline stretching between the towns of Saint-André and Saint-Benoît offers a chance to stop for a sweet treat. (Or rather a vanilla treat!) 

In the heart of a Bourbon vanilla plantation, you’ll listen to the fascinating anecdotes of the enthusiastic producers. They’ll be delighted to show you around the plantation. A chance to learn all the secrets of Bourbon vanilla, part of the very identity of Reunion Island. The perfect ingredient to add flavour to your recipes, so take the opportunity to slip a few pods into your travel bag!

2. South Coast

Fruity delights and amber power on the South coast

Your road trip through the flavours of Reunion Island continues with a stop on the South coast. Striking the perfect balance between the wild beauty of the basalt shores formed by successive eruptions of Piton de la Fournaise and the soothing calm of its rivers, this little nature spot has some delicious surprises in store!

Saint-Philippe, nicknamed the lava kingdom, is well known on the island for its climate conducive to the production of various fruits, spices and flowers. Here, the botanical garden, the colourful market and the Mare-Longue forest hike will bring all your senses alive.

After a well-deserved break, head for Saint-Pierre to sample the full-bodied flavour of rum. During your visit, you’ll see the rum casks of this historic distillery and learn about the troubled history of rum production on Reunion Island. Lemon with ti’punch? Your visit will end with a rum-tasting session, to really fire up those tastebuds!

Want to cool off? Head for the En-Champ-Thé plantation. Enjoy the deliciously fragrant aromas and wander aimlessly in the shade of the tea bushes. To finish your visit in style, have a go at harvesting the tea leaves of Reunion. Then all you have to do is taste!

3. The Cirque of Cilaos 

Spicy escape in the Cirque of Cilaos

The high point of this Reunion Island culinary road trip is stopping off in the Cirque of Cilaos. With the ancient Piton des Neiges volcano towering above, the Cirque of Cilaos offers visitors a dizzying landscape and a magical hiking terrain that reaches an elevation of 1,200 metres.

Along this 35-kilometre road, there are some 400 bends between Saint-Louis and the Cirque of Cilaos village. It features some spectacular viewpoints, and you’ll need to be an expert driver if you want to explore here by car!

But once you arrive, you’ll find yourself in the perfect surroundings for a traditional picnic lunch. A Creole-style picnic is the ultimate meal for togetherness, and an ideal opportunity to share a delicious curry in a warm and friendly atmosphere. And to round off your meal with a hint of sweetness, nothing beats a lovely spongy sweet-potato cake!

If you continue to the hamlet of Cordes, at the far end of the Cirque of Cilaos, you’ll have a chance to visit a farm with Mickael, the farmer and also your guide.  Through anecdotes and tastings, in the heart of the mountain vineyards and lentil fields of Cilaos, you’ll enjoy stunning views over the cirque and its foothills, as well as sampling the farm’s own produce.

 

4. The West coast 

Tangy notes and lazing on the beach on the West coast

Reputed for its sandy beaches and lagoons, the West coast embodies the art of lazing about on Reunion Island. 

To fully enjoy the island’s panoramic scenery, your culinary road trip must include a stop at Saint-Leu. In the heart of a coconut grove offering a panorama over the entire lagoon and bay of Saint-Leu, you’ll learn the secrets of coconuts, the symbol of the West coast, and the important role of this ingredient in Reunion cuisine. Then, let your fingers go to work when you try the traditional craft of palm-leaf weaving. Who knows, it might bring out the artist in you!

Stop off at Saint-Paul to visit one of the most popular markets on the island. The stalls are packed with Victoria pineapples, mangoes, papayas and passion fruit, all oozing with sweetness and sunshine to offer you a taste of heaven. To digest and unwind, head for the beach of La Saline or Boucan Canot. The West coast is where you’ll find Reunion’s most beautiful beaches. The ultimate picture-postcard scenery!

At lunchtime, don’t miss this chance to enjoy a delicious tartare of fresh fish with lemon and spices, a real treat for your tastebuds. For dessert, opt for ice cream made the traditional way, pei-style! 

 

5. The North coast

Great taste and flavours galore on Reunion Island

Inviting and colourful, Creole cuisine is all about the tradition of sharing. So why not round off your Reunion culinary road trip in style by taking to the kitchen?

On the North coast you’ll have the opportunity to meet Jacky, a chef with a passion who is known to everyone around here! He’ll take you to the market of the Chaudron district of Saint-Denis, where you’ll find all the key ingredients of Reunion cuisine. Garlic, ginger, turmeric, kaffir lime and cabri chilli pepper are all available here. Next, you’ll swing into action in the kitchen! Armed with an apron, you’ll follow to the letter the chef’s instructions to make a delicious dish oozing with the flavour of Reunion. Don’t forget the spices, because turmeric, ginger, cumin and cabri chilli are key to the success of the recipe!