Located a few kilometres away from Mahebourg, Vieux Grand Port is an iconic district of Mauritius with a colonial past. The oldest settlement in the island, Vieux Grand Port is not exactly a big town, it would be more apt to describe it as another of the island’s many fishing villages, but it has more history and heritage combined than the entire east coast of Mauritius.
History of Vieux Grand Port
Vieux Grand Port was the first-ever place in Mauritius where the Dutch landed with their ships back in the 1500s. They soon started expanding their settlement and establishing colonies, and soon after, they built a huge fort in the area and used it as headquarters for the Dutch East India Company.
The land of Vieux Grand Port was occupied by the Dutch till the 1700s, following which they left the island, and the French took over their place. In 1810, Vieux Grand Port bore witness to the historic Battle of Grand Port, which saw the British attempting to conquer the military base of the French that they’d established in Mauritius. The battle was a long and bloody one, and the British finally won in the end, seizing control of the island and ending the French colonial rule.
Today, the huge Dutch fort and the ports they built alongside the lagoon is long gone, but vestiges of the long colonial rule can be found in almost every nook and cranny of Vieux Grand Port.
Attractions in Vieux Grand Port
Frederik Hendrik Museum
One of the most-visited tourist attractions in Vieux Grand Port is the Frederik Hendrik Museum, which once used to be the Dutch Frederik Hendrik Fort. One of the few residual remnants that are proof of the Dutch occupation, the museum has exhibits that showcase the history of Dutch colonial rule on the island, as well as a few artefacts from the Dutch reign.
Domaine Du Chasseur
Apart from its historical significance, Vieux Grand Port also boasts of being home to one of the best nature and wildlife reserves in the country, the Domaine Du Chasseur. Nestled in the foothills of the Anse Jonchée mountains, the Domaine Du Chasseur (translating to ‘Hunter’s Domain’) is a nature reserve built over an area of around 1000 hectares. Situated at around 300 metres above sea level amidst dense forests and lush green foliage, the park is home to a wide variety of endemic species including the Mauritius Parakeet, the Mauritian Kestrel, the Zebra Dove, the Pink Pigeon, and the Mauritius Cuckoo Shrike.
As you come down from your trek to the Domaine Du Chasseur, you will be greeted by the Domaine de I'Ylang Ylang at the foot of the hills famous for its use in local perfumes, colognes and oils, which is essentially an area where aromatic yellow flowers known as Ylang-Ylang are cultivated all year round.
How to Reach
If you want to opt for public transport to reach Vieux Grand Port, you can avail of the bus services running between the towns of Mahébourg and Centre de Flacq, making a stop at the town of Vieux Grand Port. If you’re travelling via car from MahebourG, you have to take the B28 down till the Riviere Nyon crossing, following which you can drive straight through to reach Vieux Grand Port.
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