A recent and multi-cultural colonisation
Arab, Portuguese, British and Dutch sailors had all been aware of Reunion for some time, stopping merely to replenish water and food stores, but several Frenchmen started to settle there accompanied by their servants from Madagascar, including some women. The first children born in Reunion all therefore had some Malagasy blood.
As of 1715, the East India Trading Company took over the responsibility of running the island and, up until 1767, organised coffee bean cultivation, a produce which required a very large workforce. A social system of slavery was put in place and the coffee plantations covered most of the island’s hillsides, right up to the beginning of the 19th century. Clover and nutmeg trees were also introduced successfully.
The Villèle Museum was built on the private domain of the Panon-Desbassyns-Villèle family, and acts as a fine witness to this era. You can visit the “Chapelle Pointue”, the remains of the sugar refinery, the outside kitchen and the landowner’s abode.