The southern region of Reunion is reputed for its warm and bustling atmosphere.
Les Avirons, gateway to an immense forest
~ 7 000 inhabitants, 2 700 hectares
Les Avirons is the real link between the West and the South. St Louis and St Pierre are just 20 minutes away.
Its name (‘aviron’ is French for ‘oar’) comes from wood brought down the ravines to the coast to be used as oars for canoes. Today, the coastline of this Commune is only about a hundred metres long.
Natural resources come from the hills. The climate is ideal for agriculture: sugar cane, livestock (pigs, cows, sheep, goat, poultry and even boar) vegetables and fruit crops..
To see and do:
- Tévelave (from the Malagasy ‘tava lavy’ : the big forest), a plateau at medium altitude on the edge of a huge forest where you can:
- observe the Reunion harrier
- go trekking
- visit gardens open to the general public
A brief history of Les Avirons:
- in 1719 : the settlement of the first colonists at Ravine Sèche.
- in 1879 : Father Martin became priest of Les Avirons, and undertook the conversion and teaching of immigrant Hindu workers. Stopped by the police, he predicted they would come to a nasty end – one of the policemen died soon after, falling from his horse into a ravine. The priest was forced to carry on his preaching underground in Tévelave. His tomb near the church is now a place of pilgrimage.
- in 1894 : the Commune of Les Avirons was established. The first mayor was Antoine Hibon.
Etang Salé, between the ocean and the forest
~ 13 263 inhabitants, 30 865 hectares.
Its name comes from an area of water which was once filled by the rising rides and is now an artificial lake, just perfect for kids to play in, go fishing or sail remote-control model boats.
What to see and do in Etang Salé:
- the vast black sandy beach, shared by swimmers, divers and surfers alike.
- the huge basalt cliff face eroded by the sea leaving us with spouts of water flying up as the waves come in at points such as the ‘Gouffre’ and the ‘Souffleur,’ and the ‘Roche aux Oiseaux’, a cluster of rocks protruding from the water a few metres off the coast.
- walks in the forest
- the crocodile farm
- golf course
A brief history of Etang Salé:
- in 1719 : the brothers Louis and Etienne Cadet settled in Etang-Salé.
- in 1894 : the Commune of Etang Salé was established.
- at this period, this coastal village was comprised of no more than a few fishermen’s huts, as the unstable dunes were not safe for construction. At the end of the 19th century, the colony planted over a million filaos trees to stabilise the sand, and with this came an increase in population along the coast.
What to see and do in Saint-Louis:
- the Gol Sugar Refinery, visits possible between July and September
- the Maison de l'Inde and the Pandialé Temple, the island’s oldest Hindu place of worship
- the Astronomy Observatory in Les Makes
- the ‘Window’ in Les Makes : a viewpoint over Cilaos
What to see and do in Entre-Deux:
- guided tours of Creole houses and gardens, and presentation of the history of coffee organised by the Tourism Office
- the botanical garden
- the Arch of Entre-Deux
~ 70 000 inhabitants
What to see and do:
- a bustling seafront (cafés, restaurants, port, beach, playground..)
- tours of religious monuments (mosque, church, Tamil and Chinese temples)
- Sakifo, music festival
- Plaine des Cafres with the road towards the volcano and the Maison du Volcan
- Viewpoint and trek down to Grand-Bassin
- the botanical footpath of Notre-Dame de la Paix
- Piton Hyacinthe
- Bois Court
- the beach at Grand 'Anse
- Roche plate and the Rivière des Remparts
- the waterfall and river at Langevin
- the ‘Enchan-tea’d Labyrinth’ at Grand Coude
- the turmeric museum at Plaine des Grègues
- fishing port
- Perfume and spice garden
- coastal walks on old lava flows covered with vacoa trees : Cap Méchant, Puits des Arabes, Puits des Anglais, Tremblet...
- primitive forest and botanical garden at Mare-Longue
- lava flows of Grand Brûlé
- climbing the Piton des Neiges and other treks
- the spa at Cilaos
- wine houses and harvest festival