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Central Market, Mauritius Overview
Shopping in Mauritius has been a must-do activity especially for tourists just for the mere fact that it is irresistibly tempting. The energetic buzz of the place, its vibrant ambience, countless varieties of products and eatables and interaction with numerous people – all of this constitute the markets in Mauritius. And if you ever want to witness the truth marketing experience in Mauritius, you should start with Central Market.
The Central Market is an indoor bazaar-style market located at a walking distance from the harbour at Port Louis. It had the major source for the local economy going back since the Victorian times and underwent a complete renovation in 2004. The stone walls of the crossroads on which the Central Market stands have many stories to tell to its visitors, which lets you know about this historical place other than its only significance about shopping.
The Central Market saw its origin back from 1828, and later in 1833, it was moved to a location where it standstill today. When Mauritius was under British rule. La Corderie Street was chosen as the permanent location for the market. During the colonial times, indentured labourers, farmers and traders from different parts of the island formed the majority of the crowd in the market. It was quite spacious back then, and as the years passed by, the population of the group increased, and the market saw the introduction of direct sections and stalls. To cater to the growing number of customers, the builders built a first floor which would accommodate the local craftsmen and artists. They also added a food court along with the many new stalls.
Inside the Central Market
Right from the moment you enter the Central Market, your olfactory senses will be tickled by the herbalist stand where the vendors tell you about the numbers of diseases the organic herbs can cure. Your bargaining skills are going to be tested in the nearby vegetable stalls where the prices are highly negotiable. The freshness and vibrantly colour vegetable stalls is a feast for the eyes.
As you reach the first floor of the market, you'll set foot in the craft market. That's where the different stalls for colourful textile, fruit preserves and artisanal sculptures can be found. There are some stalls where they sell different varieties of local rum. It is identical because of the bottle it comes in, which has an emblematic Dodo bird painted on it. You must get your hands on some of these and gift them to your friends and family as a Mauritian souvenir.
What makes the Central Market so special is the lottery system that has been created by the Municipal Council. The tourists are seen to be advised by the locals that it’s a tradition that they have to try their luck out at the lottery right after entering the market. Quite interestingly, even the stalls in the market are allotted to the vendors through a lottery system, and hence it’s an honour to own a stall in the oldest market of the island.
Things to Eat
Even though it’s relatively small in its area, the food court of the Central Market is by the best place you can look for if you want to get a taste of the real Mauritian food. While you are indulged in buying clothes and artefacts, the scent of fried noodles from the nearby food court will make you explore it better. Starting from rotis, pancakes, dumplings and various curries, the menu of the food court is very affordable and delicious at the same time. If the heat bothers you a lot, try out the refreshingly cold Alouda which is a milk-based ice-cold drink prepared and served with natural laxative grains and agar-agar. So it doesn't matter if you get tired of lifting the shopping bags and in dire need of a breather, the Central Market takes care of everything.
The Central Market must be on your list of top 10 places to visit in Mauritius. Even if you are not in the mood for shopping, you can visit to see the locals busy in their works, and you'll get a sense of the daily life of the town. It’s an overall rustic marketing experience which mustn’t be missed!
The ideal time to visit the Central Market is during the summer. Don't forget to taste the sweet Victoria pineapples and juicy mangoes. It is recommended that you visit it early morning before the sunshine reaches its peak intensity. Also, it is the best time to get your hands on some of the freshest vegetables and fruits that are brought from different parts of the island overnight. It will take you nearly 2 hours for a complete tour of the market, provided you stop at various stalls.
How to Reach Central Market
The Central Market is located in the centre of Port Louis. From the Le Caudan waterfront you have to take the Sir Robert Townsend Farquhar Street, and just after a 5-minute walk, you'll reach the Central Market.