©Photographe|Serge GELABERT

Exploring Saint Denis

Historic city

In 1669, Etienne Regnault, the first governor of the Bourbon Island decided to move from Saint-Paul to Saint-Denis. The town then gained popularity and in 1738, it became the capital of the ultimate island.

It is in the north of the island, covering a surface area of 14,279 hectares and with 146,920 inhabitants (INSEE data from 2016). The locals of Saint-Denis are known as Dyonisiens (for the men) and Dionysiennes (for the women).


Saint-Denis de La Réunion, a lively place day and night

On Reunion Island, Saint-Denis has an extraordinary historical heritage. Monuments, parks, museums and Creole dwellings are dotted throughout the capital, and amaze visitors exploring the town on foot. The traditional varangue terraces have remained standing throughout the centuries and the Creole town has preserved its historical and authentic charm. Saint-Denis is a town that is open and forward-thinking, meaning that every day it is growing and fast becoming the number one overseas French town, thanks to its demography as well as its cultural offering.

Are you a bit of a night owl? You’re in the right place! Snack bars, ice cream parlours, restaurants (Creole, European, Indian, Japanese, Moroccan, Lebanese, Vietnamese and even vegetarian cuisine), night clubs, cinema, bowling alley and much more. Come and get the “Saint-Denis by Night” experience, and you’ll find something to do all night long.

Experience something original with the museums and visits of Saint-Denis de La Réunion!

Feed your curiosity with a cultural excursion on the island. The museums in the north of the island are mainly found in Saint-Denis de La Réunion. Except for the Musée de la Vraie Fraternité, Boulevard de la Providence, all the rest are on Rue de Paris. Come and browse our selection!

  • Moving, the Musée de la Vraie Fraternité is devoted to the catholic religion and the good deeds of the sisters of the congregation. Automated machines show what the sisters did for the lepers.
  • Exciting, the Musée Léon Dierx, which was home to the former bishopric until 1912, is now devoted to paintings from the beginning of the 20th century, and to art in general. This museum is particularly well-known for its collection of master paintings which once belonged to the famous art dealer Ambroise Vollard.
  • Fascinating, the Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle, in the Jardin de l’Etat, is partly devoted to temporary exhibitions (on the ground floor), and a permanent exhibition on the wildlife of the islands in the Indian Ocean (on the first floor). We can also see a dodo skeleton on display…
  • Original, the Artothèque houses a permanent exhibition of local contemporary paintings and sculptures. From time to time, there are also some contemporary sculptures on display (sculptures, paintings, photos, etc.).
  • A must-see, the Maison Carrèreat the heart of Saint-Denis de La Réunion is home to the Intercommunal Tourist Office for the North and displays exhibitions that are open to the public.

Saint-Denis de La Réunion: a melting pot of religions

In the north of the ultimate island, look around you and you’ll see that the different religions operate in complete harmony, in this very open-minded town. Saint-Denis de La Réunion is a land of religious tolerance, even welcoming in the very same street, two Chinese temples (Temple de la Traversée Heureuse and Temple de la Prospérité Eternelle), the Kalikampal Tamil Temple and the Masdid Noor-e-Islam Great Mosque. Finally, while you’re here, make sure you visit Saint-Sauveur Cathedral. The perfect getaway to learn all about the faith of Reunion Island.

Good to know: The Intercommunal Tourist Office for the North offers a guided tour of the City of Art and History, that includes these places of worship.

Amuze a zot bien in Saint-Denis

It’s impossible to get bored in Saint-Denis de La Réunion. Whether you want to run, walk or stroll, everyone goes at their own pace in the capital, with the many sports and leisure activities on offer.

Take in the relaxing vibe !

Take a stroll along the Barachois, the seafront in Saint-Denis dotted with old cannons, and take in the relaxing vibes from the ocean. For those looking for a leisurely stroll, there’s a long footpath for a very pleasurable and relaxing experience. Children’s play areas, food trucks to treat yourself to a “pain bouchon” sandwich, samosas, a “dodo” beer… The small things in life are definitely the best.

Go for a wander !

Head to the Parc de la Trinité in Saint-Denis which is next to the Champ-Fleuri sports centre. The park is a wide-open space where families can come and enjoy the children’s play areas and climb up the hill. Avid joggers particularly like going to the top of the hill to admire the breath-taking view from the top, overlooking the capital. Quite close by, the whole family will enjoy a day out at the Aquanor water park.

 Practice your swing !

Get out your very best clubs at the Colorado Golf Course in Saint-Denis. This mountain golf course overlooking the sea is a 9-hole course, 4,792 metres long and 68 metres wide. This narrow course is technical and requires accuracy, dexterity and perseverance! There are some superb panoramic views from the golf course, especially the 180° view of the Indian Ocean from hole number 3.

Lie back and relax!

The village of Brûlé in the Saint-Denis highlands awaits, for a shiatsu head massage and a cup of green tea, to be enjoyed surrounded by nature at the Spa Liza Case Zen. Unless you prefer to go and visit a Creole garden at the Vallée Heureuse. The owner will welcome you in person and take you on a two-hour tour!

Set off on an adventure!

Saint-Denis de La Réunion is also known for the many hiking trails that leave from here: Sentier de la Providence, Chemin des Anglais, Pic Adam, Roche Ecrite, Cascade Maniquet, Parc du Colorado.

Get a good night’s sleep!

As for accommodation, there’s something for everyone, from guesthouses to four-star hotels.

Looking for accommodation in Saint-Denis ?