Friday, 21 September 2012

Domaine de la Réserve & Ste Suzanne lighthouse

Last weekend was the European Heritage Days, and on the Saturday we decided to visit two local sites: the Domaine de la Réserve in Sainte Marie and the lighthouse at Sainte Suzanne.

The Domaine de la Réserve is a former sugar cane estate comprising a main house and various dependencies dating from the late 18th century. It's not normally open to the public and this year was the first time it could be visited as part of the European Heritage Days.

Main house, Domaine de la Réserve

The main house is unusual for Reunion because there's no verandah on the principal facade.

side view, main house

Near the house is a cobbled courtyard around which are the former stables.

looking into the cobbled courtyard; stables at the back

old plough

My husband and I were particularly interested to see the old chimney. We have a solar electricity project and at one point it was jeopardised by our house's proximity to the chimney, as it classed as a Monument historique, ie a French National Heritage Site. In the end - fortunately for us - it was not a problem.

the famous chimney which nearly put an end to
 our solar electricity project!

old petrol pump

The surrounding grounds are quite extensive and one of the features you notice is a large cast iron basin, which comes from Bellemene, Saint Paul, on the island's west coast.

old cast iron basin

impressive thorns on the trunk of this palm

large Stag Horn Fern

The estate is still surrounded by extensive fields of sugar cane.

sugar-cane cutting season is from June to December

Next we headed a few miles down the road to the neighbouring municipality of Ste Suzanne to climb the lighthouse.

the cylindrical tower of Sainte Suzanne lighthouse

Built in 1845 it started functioning on 15th October 1846, and is the only remaining lighthouse on Reunion (another lighthouse located at Pointe des Galets disappeared in the 1970s due to erosion). It has been classed a Monument Historique since June 2012.

there are 88 steps up to the top of the lighthouse

The lighthouse is built 40 metres above sea level, and is 20.25 metres high. It was staffed until 1985, with keepers winding the clockwork mechanism every 4 hours. It  was automated in 1989  and fully restored in 1996.

lens in the lantern

It emits three white flashes every 15 seconds which are visible for 23 nautical miles.

looking north from the gallery

looking south; Bois Rouge sugar factory is visible to the upper left

picnic area at the foot of the lighthouse

old lens 

anchor in the gardens outside the lighthouse

The lighthouse visit certainly brought back memories - I think the last lighthouse I climbed was at Dondra Head, the southern point of Sri Lanka, three years ago.


Coordinates of La Réserve: 20°54′00″ South  55°33′44″ East
Coordinates of Sainte Suzanne lighthouse: 20°54′05″South  55°36′07"East
Le Domaine website (in French):

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