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Streets, lanes and districts where you can fine tune the art of strolling in Saint‑Denis

Our secret for soaking up the charm of Saint-Denis during your visit to Reunion Island ? Take your time and wander wherever you want. Free as a bird, lose your way and let the capital reveal its most beautiful secrets for sightseeing in Reunion Island.

Discover our top 6 streets and districts to immerse yourself in beautiful architecture and fine tune the art of strolling in Saint-Denis.

 

1. Le Barachois

While the city centre is an assault on the senses, the sea front has a more peaceful atmosphere during your visit to Reunion Island. Le Barachois, an iconic area in Reunion’s capital city, used to be a small port for landing goods from ships. Today this corniche is a favourite place for an enjoyable walk. From the sea wall with its canons pointing out to the ocean, you can enjoy totally unobstructed views of the sea.

 On the other side of the street is the Prefecture of Reunion Island and the island’s most famous brasserie: Le Roland Garros. Outside there is a statue of the famous aviator from Reunion Island from whom it takes its name.

 In the evening, enjoy the orange sky of the sunset behind Cap Bernard snacking on samosas or enjoying an iconic “bouchons gratiné” (local toasted cheese sandwich). Just nearby, locals play petanque until late in the evening in a friendly atmosphere.

On Sunday afternoons, Le Barachois is closed to traffic and invaded by happy families. The kids go on the merry-go-round, play in the playgrounds and feast on ice creams and waffles. In Le Barachois it’s easy to fine tune the art of strolling in Saint Denis.

2. The Cathedral district

 Day and night, there is a young, trendy atmosphere specific to Saint-Denis in the Cathedral district. During the day, workers and students come here to eat in the local restaurants and snack bars or on the benches in front of Saint-Denis Cathedral.

 In the evening, a party atmosphere takes over as the sun sets and the first blasts of music are heard. In the “Carré Cathédrale”, the name given to the small pedestrian area behind Saint-Denis Cathedral, people wander between the countless pubs, tapas bars and trendy restaurants.

At night, the Cathedral district becomes the beating heart of the city Explore the narrow streets to soak up the atmosphere of Saint-Denis by night. The sun has set: we’re not walking now, we’re dancing!

3. Rue de Paris

It starts at the magnificent Victory Column with Le Barachois and the sea as a backdrop. Opposite, stands the old and imposing Town Hall of Saint-Denis whose Italian style inner courtyard is well worth a visit. Rue de Paris is teeming with historical, artistic and cultural treasures.

 The history of Reunion Island can be traced on this street alone. It is home to sumptuous Creole villas which belonged to some of the most famous people from Reunion Island. The most iconic is undoubtedly Villa Déramond, where the grandparents of both Léon Dierx then Raymond Barre lived. From verandas to lambrequins, you will be transfixed by the charm of this typical and iconic colonial architecture.

 Rue de Paris is also home to the Léon Dierx Museum. Named in honour of the Prince of poets, it houses an impressive collection of works that belonged to Ambroise Vollard, a Reunion Island art dealer and gallery owner.

The best way to visit rue de Paris is with a guide to discover all the little stories and anecdotes harboured within the street. Or just stroll down the street by yourself to marvel at the Creole architecture. However you do it, it’s one of the places you must see in Reunion Island.

4. The state Garden

 This green oasis in Saint-Denis is a refreshing place to go for a stroll and get away from it all for young and old alike. Formerly the Jardin du Roy, it was landscaped in 1773 by the East India Company and became a zoological garden.

It houses the Natural History Museum, which opened in 1855 and was the very first museum in Reunion Island. Listed as a Historical Monument in 1978, it is the ideal place to discover the fauna of this island which is the ultimate experience.

And there’s plenty of flora too!  As you walk round the garden, you can discover rare species and remarkable trees too such as the cannonball tree or the talipot palm, an ancient tree which only flowers once before dying.

The State Garden is the only botanical garden in Saint-Denis and it also has a stage area for events and another for exhibitions and the arts. An iconic park much loved by locals, it is the perfect place for picnics on the grass while the kids have a 500m² playground to enjoy.

5. Du Grand and Petit Marché

The sun warms the skin and cameras capture so many memories. Grand Marché, in the upper town, is a favourite spot for visitors. “This elegant iron bazaar”, as it was affectionately called by Charles Léal, is the place to come for Malagasy and Indian Ocean handicrafts. Away from the bustle of the city, you can take your time and appreciate every encounter and every smile among the basket and embroidery stalls.

 At the other end of rue Maréchal Leclerc, the large pedestrian, shopping street in Saint-Denis, in the lower town, make sure you stop at Petit Marché. This popular district is where people come to buy their fruit and vegetables before concocting tasty Creole dishes.

 As you make your way down rue Maréchal Leclerc, you will pass in front of the Noor-e-Islam Mosque, one of the oldest in France. Make sure you go in to admire its inner courtyard and Indian arcades.

6. Rivière Saint-Denis district

The Rivière Saint-Denis district has created its own quite separate little world in the capital. Formerly an industrial district featuring flour mills, sawmills and tanneries, it is now a popular, authentic district. This landlocked area is a good way to discover the lower city. It is also called the “Bas de la Rivière” district by locals.

Bas de la Rivière and the upper part of the centre of Saint-Denis are connected by the famous and vertiginous Ti Quat’ Sous steps. But you can also use the panoramic lift! While you’re in the area be sure to go and explore the imposing Notre-Dame de la Délivrance Church, a perfect example of Gothic revival architecture.

Rivière Saint-Denis passes through this iconic district. You can walk along the river’s banks until it flows into the Indian Ocean at Le Barachois. And you’re back to where you started. The Saint-Denis loop is closed.

Experience the Highlands ("Les Hauts")