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© Emmanuel Virin

Markets on Reunion Island

Fragrances, flavours and colours of Reunion Island

With your partner, family or friends, plan a little tour of the island’s markets for a fragrant, colourful stroll into the heart of the Reunion way of life.

 

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Lila

Cultural immersion

You won’t need your sun hat at the Saint-Pierre indoor market. In fact, the market building is the pride of this town listed as a Town of Art & History since the year 2000. The metal structure of what was then called the bazaar dates back to pre-1863. This is the place to find “péi” (local) arts and crafts.

If you’re in Cilaos on a Sunday morning, you absolutely must “bat’karé” (go for a walk) in the small market. It oozes with charm and togetherness, and is surrounded by the majestic ramparts of the cirque. Among other products, you’ll find honey, soap, local wine, jars of jam, etc. and, like everywhere else, there are stalls selling different types of curry served in containers with generous helpings of rice and “grains” (peas, beans & lentils), “brèdes” (leafy part of vegetables cooked in a similar way to spinach), and chilli sauce – to be enjoyed sparingly, unless you’ve already been infected by the Reunion spirit during your trips to the market !

Strolling in Saint-Paul Market

The open-air market in Saint-Paul, held on the seafront every Friday and Saturday, is probably the most popular market among tourists. Arrive early to get a parking space, otherwise you may have a bit of a walk. You’ll also need the usual sun protection. Here again, you’ll find fruit and vegetables, spices, vanilla, and geranium-based products straight from the producers. (You simply must take home a little bottle of geranium essential oil – just as powerful a Proust’s Madeleine as any of your holiday photos !)

Ideally, you’ll try Creole culinary specialities at the restaurants and snack bars: “bonbons piments” (savoury fritters), “bouchons” (filled steamed bites) and “achards” (vegetable pickles) washed down with the local “Dodo” beer (to be consumed responsibly). Still by the sea on Sunday mornings, the Ermitage market in Saint-Gilles-les-Bains is perfect before a day on the beach !

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