Reunion - practical info

If you're thinking of visiting Réunion Island, or just want to find out more, here's the low-down on some practical information that may be useful:

Status - overseas department of France since March 19th 1946.

MottoFlorebo quocumque ferar ('I will thrive wherever I am planted')

Coordinates - 21 06 S, 55 36 E

Capital - Saint Denis.

Surface area - 2,517 km2. 

Dimensions - 63 km (39 mi) long and 45 km (28 mi) wide.

Population - 839,500 (2011).

Population density - 330/km2.

Map of Réunion Island showing main towns (source)

GDP per capita - €18 200 (2008).

Highest point - Piton des Neiges, 3070 m.

Coastline - 207 km (≈ 30 km of which is beaches)

Climate - tropical, but temperature moderates with elevation; cool and dry from May to November, hot and rainy from November to April. Reunion holds most of the world records for the most amount of rainfall between 9 hours and 15 days. Average water temperature: around 26/27°C from November to May and 23°C from May to October.

Natural hazards - periodic, devastating cyclones (November to April); Piton de la Fournaise is an active volcano.

Wildlife (fauna) - Réunion has 9 native species of mammals, 91 species of birds and 58 species of invertebrates. The endemism ratio (endemic species compared to indigenous species) is as follows: 88% of birds, 96% of land reptiles, 90% of land molluscs, 65% of beetles, and 38% of lepidopterans.

Male chameleon (Furcifer pardalis) (source)

Wildlife (flora) -  800 species of flowering plants and 230 varieties of fern are indigenous. 60% of flowering plants are endemic.

Airports - Roland Garros (aka 'Gillot') in the north, and Pierrefonds in the south.

Airlines - Air France, Air Austral, Air Mauritius, Air Madagascar and Corsair all fly to and from Réunion.

Time zone - GMT+4.

Visa requirements - European citizens need to show their passport. As Réunion is not part of the Schengen treaty area for citizens of other countries it's best to ask at your local French embassy for visa or transit visa requirements.

Money - Réunion is part of the Eurozone (Réunion was the first place in the world to use Euros).

Changing money - As of November 2012 only in Saint Denis.

Driving - on the right side of the road.

Public transport - buses are the only public transport available. Cycling can be difficult due to the hilly terrain.

Clothing - light clothing all year round as well as sunglasses and sun cream. Bring a waterproof for the cyclone season, and warm clothing and good walking shoes for any hiking trips.

Piton de la Fournaise (Réunion island) seen cl...
La Fournaise from Pas de Bellecombe (source)

Public holidays -
  • 1st January - New Year's Day (Jour de l' an
  • Variable - Good Friday (Vendredi Saint) (unofficial but afternoon sometimes observed)
  • Variable - Easter Monday (Lundi de Pâques
  • 1st May - May Day/Labour Day (Fête du Travail
  • 8th May - Victory in Europe Day (Victoire 1945
  • Variable - Ascension Day (Ascension; Thursday 39 days after Easter)
  • Variable - Whit Monday (Lundi de Pentecôte; 49 days after Easter)
  • 14th July - Bastille Day (Fête Nationale)
  • 15th August  - Assumption of Mary to Heaven (Assomption
  • 1st November - All Saints' Day (Toussaint
  • 11th November - Veterans Day/Armistice Day/Remembrance Day (Armistice 1918)
  • 20th December - Abolition of Slavery (Fêt Kaf)
  • 25th December - Christmas Day (Noël)
Note that December 20th is unique to Réunion; all the other public holidays are the same as mainland France.

Festivals - see here for some of the major festivals on the island in 2013.

Languages - French (official), Reunion Creole widely used.

Religions - Roman Catholic, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist.

Hindu Tamil temple on Reunion Island (source)

Ethnic groups - French, African, Malagasy, Chinese, Indian.

Electricity -  230V/50Hz (French plug).

Post - letter boxes are yellow (same as in France).

Health - No major health issues, and medical facilities in Reunion are very good. This article covers some of the health risks in Réunion you might come across. There's no malaria in Réunion, but you'll probably want to protect yourself from mosquito bites, as well as the sun. If you suffer from car sickness, bring medication as Reunion has a lot of winding roads.

Work - for those from an EU country working in Reunion is allowed without a visa or work permit. If you're from outside the EU, you'll need a work permit.

Eating Out - in Reunion, like in mainland France, people are fairly strict on mealtimes when eating out. Lunch is generally 12p-2pm and dinner service starts at 7:30pm (or earlier in some smaller, more remote places). There are a few exceptions,  but generally speaking don't go to a restaurant expecting breakfast at 10 or 11am, lunch at 3pm or dinner at 6pm or 10pm. (Also see this article: How to eat like a local in Reunion).

Phones - the country code is 262. When dialling within Reunion all numbers have 10 digits. Landlines begin with 0262 and mobile phones with 0692 or 0693. There are three mobile phone operators: SFR, Orange and Only.

Emergency phone numbers - 
  • Emergency services: 112 (can be dialled by any mobile phone, even if not connected to GSM network);
  • Fire brigade: 18;
  • Police: 17;
  • Emergency medical service ('SAMU'): 15.

Useful links:

You might also like: Did you know? - some little-known facts about Réunion.

1 comment:

  1. Many thanks for the good information. As an English speaker going to Reunion, good, practical information is scarce.