Cirque de Cilaos

The unforgettable cirque

Its springs and road of 400 bends

Cilaos comes from the Malagasy word tsilaosa meaning "country you don’t leave". The cirque invites you to travel in a very different world from the cirques of Mafate and Salazie. It’s the most populated of the three and forms the beating heart of Reunion. Its rugged landscape of cirques worn down by erosion, here more than anywhere else is dominated by the massive Piton des Neiges which rises to 3,071m in altitude.

An integral part of the National Park, the vertical walls that delimit it enclose an amazing world where its people have chosen to live on large plateaux. Cilaos is accessible by car at the end of a beautiful but extremely winding road with its 400 turns, high walls and cornices. This Creole high mountain village has a unique charm, pure fresh air, a blue and white church, a spa (the only one on the island), its islets: Ilet à Cordes, Plateau des Etangs, Bras de Saint-Paul, Palmiste Rouge, Bras-Sec. Nearly 80 km of trails are scattered around the cirque for trips to the Mare à joncs, Roche Merveilleuse, into the forest of Tapcal; or for hikes to the Piton des Neiges, the roof of the Indian Ocean, and to Col du Taïbit towards Mafate.

The road, very winding, climbs relentlessly from Saint-Louis to the village of Cilaos. From this road, penetrating the cirque to the foot of the Piton des Neiges, you can reach some isolated settlements: Palmiste Rouge, Ilet à Cordes...

  • A moment of well-being
    Cilaos is not just a mountain resort; it's also a spa town. The "Irénée Accot" spa on the Bras-sec road, operating since the 19th century, is the only one on the island. Two natural mineral water springs feed the establishment, and the cool of the place, its calm and relaxation will carry you away. The fitness centre offers à la carte services and packages: whirlpool baths, invigorating showers, massages, treatments, beauty centre... The thermal waters of Cilaos are deemed to be particularly effective.
    A cirque rich in surprises
    In Cilaos, discover three specialities and remarkable traditions: fruity wine, tasty lentils and fine embroidery.
    Cilaos is the only place in Reunion where they grow grapes. Chai de Cilaos offers a tour of the winery with tasting of the local wine*, the only one of its kind in the world. You can find the wines in some wine shops as well as at Roland Garros Airport.
    * Alcohol abuse is harmful for health
    Cilaos is also known for its lentils. Fine tasting, smooth and easy to cook, they appear on all the menus of the cirque’s restaurants.
    A visit to the Maison de la broderie is a chance to discover a sales exhibition of handicrafts and the art of embroidery, typical of Cilaos and famous worldwide. The work of the "Days of Cilaos" embroiderers, particularly fine embroidery, is a souvenir to take home in your suitcase.
    The Zafer Lontan Museum exhibits and sells prints, sculptures and paintings, antiques (cooking over a wood fire, sedan chair history), tracing the heritage of Cilaos.
    In the village, various craftsmen offer their handiwork (fish scale and precious metal jewellery) and sell local products (Cilaos lentils, wine, basketry...)

    A multitude of activities
    Cilaos enjoys an exceptional setting for outdoor activities such as the "Fleurs jaunes intégrale" canyon, one of the flagships of all the island’s canyoning sites. Other icons include the hike to the summit of the Piton des Neiges, climbing the Piton de Sucre, or on the Arête des Trois Salazes, discovering a tree climbing adventure site in the forest.
    Remember to book your activities in advance.