A town situated on the northern side of the island, Pamplemousses is a short distance away from the capital of Mauritius and is one of the most densely populated areas in the country. Pamplemousses translates to 'grapefruit trees' in French, and the town was so named after the grapefruit trees that used to grow here in abundance during the French colonial reign.
Pamplemousses is important in Mauritian history as being one of the first areas across the entire island to be colonised by the French, and the town is famous for once being home to famous French personalities such as Mahe de Labourdonnais (after whom the city Mahebourg was named), and Pierre Poivre.
Even today, Pamplemousses still retains every bit of its colonial legacy and heritage, and there is a distinct old-world aura in every nook and cranny of the town. Starting from the old colonial houses to the ancient churches to the very well-known Chateau de Mont Plaisir, every inch of this town is steeped in history.
Pamplemousses is famous for the SSR Garden, or the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Garden, also commonly referred to as the Pamplemousses Botanical Garden. This garden has been named after the first prime minister of independent Mauritius, Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, the SSR Gardens have often been compared to London’s Kew Gardens by foreign tourists.
Built over an area of 40 hectares, the gardens have a polished, manicured feel to it, because of the neatly built pathways with clear labels that are a huge help in navigating through the massive area.
The focal point of the SSR gardens is the giant water lily display at the very heart of the gardens, with all the lilies on display having been brought from America to Mauritius for better conservation of the species. There are a huge number of exotic plants on display, such as the fish poison tree and the marmalade box tree, most of which you will not encounter anywhere else other than the island.
A very popular attraction of the gardens is the palm tree exhibit, which is basically an exhibit of 85 different varieties of palm trees that were brought over to Mauritius from places such as Africa and India.
The Château de Labourdonnais
Being as richly entrenched in colonial history as Pamplemousses was, you would definitely expect to see quite a few ancient buildings around town that had much to do during the colonial reign.
The Château de Labourdonnais is one such building that still stands as one of the most exemplary examples of old-world colonial architecture.
Built back in the 1800s, the Château Labourdonnais was once owned by Christian Wiehe and his family, but has long since been renovated and is now in use as a heritage tourism spot.
One of the few buildings in Mauritius that have a neo-classical feel to it, the Château de Labourdonnais is a mansion constructed entirely out of teak and has a dual-collonaded gallery that is very aesthetically pleasing. Once you enter the mansion, the interiors will give you off a Victorian-era vibe, and the preserved vintage furniture further adds to that feel. All tours of the mansion end with a visit to the orchards, where you may spot a giant tortoise or two, and even pet them if you’re lucky!
If you’re interested in sampling the local rum or the locally produced jams and jellies, you can drop in by the distillery and the adjacent tasting bar.
L'Aventure du Sucre
Another colonial building that serves as a popular tourist attraction in Pamplemousses is the L'Aventure du Sucre, a former sugar factory that has now been converted into a museum where you can learn all about the history and production of sugar in Mauritius.
There is a wide variety of interactive exhibits that are as entertaining as they are informative, and give you detailed information about the history of the island, including important details about the sugar and rum trade in the country back during the colonial era.
In case you want to take some locally produced sugar for your friends and family back home, the museum has an attached souvenir shop where you can sample and buy quite a few varieties of unrefined sugar.
How to Reach
If you’re staying in either of the towns of Port Louis, Grand Baie, Grand Gaube or Trou aux Biches, you can avail of the direct bus services that run between these towns and Pamplemousses. In case you’re driving in from any other part of the island, the highways you can take to reach the town are the A2, the B18, and the M2.
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