Timings : Monday to Friday – 9.00 AM to 3.00 PM Saturday – 9.00 AM to 12.00 PM Sunday – Closed
Time Required : 2-4 hours
Entry Fee : With tasting Adults – INR 150 Children – INR 90
Without tasting Adults – INR 100 Children – INR 65
Rault Biscuit Factory, Mauritius Overview
The root of any country incomplete without its history and Mauritius isn't an exception in this regard. Most of the tourist attractions of Mauritius have stories to tell you which define the very origins of this island nation. Like a cup of tea is incomplete without biscuits, Mauritius is incomplete without its history as well. Speaking of cookies and history, there is one place in Mauritius which has both of these in common - the Rault Biscuit Factory or 'Biscuiterie Rault' as it is known locally.
Situated in the northern side of Mahebourg, the Rault Biscuit Factory is a family business found and owned by the Rault-Seneque family back in 1870 whose biscuits are one-of-a-kind in the world. They specialise in differently flavoured cookies which are made in a traditional method that has remained unchanged even after being carried forward through 140 years since its creation. A trip to the Rault Biscuit Factory will take you back to a historical ambience of the days gone and will familiarise you with the entire line of different biscuits.
Back in 1735, Mahe de Labourdonnais brought a South American tuber known as manioc or cassava into Mauritius. The sugar estates grew it and used it as cattle feed for the oxen. It was around 1868 when Hilarion Rault, the founder of Rault Biscuit Factory, came up with a recipe for biscuits using cassava as the main ingredient. After getting the necessary support and encouragement from his family members, he launched those biscuits in the local market by the name “Biscuits Manioc”. Although the cookies were enjoyed by the people very much, it didn’t become trendy as it was perceived as cattle feed.
It was during the First World War when the shortage of staple food in the island made the people turn toward cassava biscuits as it was the only available flour. Very soon, the production rate of the biscuit factory tripled, and hundreds of people worked in the factory night and day alike to make the supply of biscuits to the island possible. Trains were the only supply medium of the biscuits that used to makes trips to the north and south of the island. However, as soon as the war ended, the supply of wheat and other kinds of products started coming to the island and slowly and gradually, people turned away from “Biscuits Manioc”.
For many years, the factory underwent a lot of financial and physical damages due to cyclones. As a result of the growth of the sugar industry, planters gave up cassava plantations and turned towards sugarcane plantations as it was the more profitable business. There were even times when the factory only operated for six months in a year due to layoffs; it went on similarly until Madagascar came up with a substitute for cassava supply.
It is since 1995 that people have been visiting the Rault Biscuit Factory, who are interested in discovering more about their traditional method of making biscuits. A total of 5 generations have looked after the factory, and the kept the unique recipe a secret. Each generation has brought in new ideas and creativity to reduce the burden on the workers. Many further improvements have been made to some of the production stages that are developed by the family members. That being said, there is also some equipment that dates back to the factory’s beginning, like the traditional oven and the antique scale are still in use.
Tour Around the Factory
The tour to the Rault Biscuit Factory starts having its effect on you from the moment you leave the main road to get a glimpse of the high trees which marks the beginning of the property. Indeed, you reach the factory by going through the yard of the Rault-Seneque family. , and it leads to the entrance of the factory in the form of a corrugated and old-fashioned iron door.
The smell of spices coming from inside the factory will start to lure you already as you buy the tickets. It is followed by a sweet welcome by a charming hostess who greets you from the door. The tour starts from beneath the huge, and almost a century-old Badam tree and so does the storytelling about the secret family recipe that developed 140 years ago. You lay eyes upon the old well that has the water source for the family through generations. Next, you are taken towards the ancient white-walled building where you can see the 2-metre high manioc tree. The biscuit making process requires only the roots of the manioc tree. As you enter the building, you find yourself before ancient scale that is still used to weigh the raw manioc right after it has been delivered. Other types of equipment like the vice press and the old grater keep the tradition alive.
The main ingredient of the biscuits is the manioc flour produced from the roots of the plant which is manufactured through an indigenous system that was developed by Hilarion Rault himself. The industry is reputed for no use of any colouring or preservatives in the production of the biscuits. Even the ovens are heated by burning the dried cane leaves. You get a chance to taste the various flavours of biscuits by enjoying the soothing freshness of the garden. During the tasting, you will be visited by one of the family members for a little chat. It is a long lasting family tradition that puts more emphasis on friendliness than just profitability.
Rault Biscuit Factory is a different culinary paradise within itself. The old school techniques, the heart-warming hospitality and the rustic setting – there is too much to fall in love with this place. It’s much more than just a factory!
Photos of Rault Biscuit Factory
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