Sunday, 3 January 2021

Domaine de la Roseraye, Ste-Rose

Domaine de la Roseraye is a small former sugar factory in Sainte-Rose, on Reunion's south-east coast. We were some of the first people to visit it as part of a new series of guided tours organised by Les Aventuriers de l'Est in partnership with the site's owners, the Adam De Villiers family.

The site has belonged the Adam De Villiers family since the turn of the last century, but the former sugar factory ruins left there predate them and are probably mid-nineteenth century. 

The remains include an (incomplete) boiler, a broken flywheel, and a small sugar cane mill. They are interesting because Domaine de la Roseraye is one of the few, if not the only, factory sites on Reunion that has been left virtually as it was. Its small size is typical of properties of the time, and it's a piece in the jigsaw puzzle of the island's sugar cane industry development.

Incidentally until the late 19th century the only way to reach Ste-Rose from the north and east was by sea. The bridge over the Rivière de l'Est - the world's longest at the time - was only built in 1894.

The family had some archaeological work carried out between 2015 and 2018 but frustratingly French regulations mean that if there is no active archaeological research being carried out the site has to be recovered in order to preserve what's underneath. Prior to 2015 it was a guest house, with rooms in the converted stables. The actual house is quite unprepossessing and was apparently never lived in full-time. Located in such a backwater it didn't need the bling-bling of houses such as those on St-Denis' Rue de Paris for example.

house at Domaine de la Roseraye

verandah of the house at Domaine de la Roseraye

Whoever planted the garden must have loved Heliconias, as I've rarely seen so many different varieties in one place!

Heliconia rostrata

Heliconia chartacea

There were also plenty of other plants and trees in the garden. As Ste-Rose is located on Reunion's windward coast it gets lots of rain, which means gardens in the area are extremely lush.

starfruit flowers

Lipstick palm (Cyrtostachys renda)

Incidentally a TV journalist was there at the same time as us, and her news segment can be seen here:

Domaine de la Roseraye guided visits take place on the 1st Sunday of every month and you should contact Les Aventuriers de l'Est at or 0692 34 45 21 to book. Visits for 15 or more people can be organised on other dates.

See also:

Sunday, 6 December 2020

Cascade Blanche

Falling 640 metres, Cascade Blanche is one of France's highest waterfalls, and Reunion's third-highest (the tallest is Trou de Fer). Often associated with Salazie as it lies near the entrance to the cirque, in fact it technically falls within the municipality of Bras Panon. It's very visible on the drive in and out of Salazie cirque, although on the way in you have to look back over your shoulder just past Pisse en l'Air to see it.

Cascade Blanche

Getting to a good viewpoint just opposite the waterfall is a fairly easy 35-minute hike, although actually getting to the foot of the waterfall is a little more "athletic" (it involves fording a river, wading through muddy channels, and clambering over large boulders).

sign near the start of the hike

Forestry Commission sign at start of hike,
warning that part of the pathway is unstable

a species of Heliconia growing wild

part of path

sign at the viewpoint marking the end of the maintained
path. While it doesn't forbid from going any further,
it warns hikers to watch out for flash floods in the river

view of Cascade Blanche from the viewpoint

After cooling our heels ankles in the river (called Bras de Caverne), we then made our way to the foot of the waterfall where we took a dip in the water before making our way back.

If you read/understand French you can find out more about the hike here:

view on the way back

See also:

Sunday, 29 November 2020

Rivière du Mât

Although I worked for 9 years at Bourbon Plastiques, I never hiked this path up alongside the Rivière du Mât river although I'd heard about. It's now been 12 years since I left BP to move to Seoul for three years, so when an outing to Rivière du Mât was suggested by a group of friends I was keen to participate.

Bourbon Plastiques roofs are just visible behind the vegetation

It's not a very difficult hike, and the path is flat most of the time. We only went as far as Bassin des Aigrettes, which should not be confused with its homonym at Saint-Gilles, although they do look similar.

At one point on the path a sign indicates Bassin De La Mer, which is a bit further on and slightly steeper to get to. Again this should not be confused with its near-homonym Bassin La Mer at Saint-Benoit.

sign to Bassin De La Mer

Bassin des Aigrettes, Rivière du Mât

The way back was by the same path, and we stopped off to cool our feet in the river.

Rivière du Mât, looking east towards the sea

The area near the carpark where the hike starts and finishes has been landscaped to a certain extent, and there are some attractive plants as well as some old remnants of the former sugar factory that Bourbon Plastiques stands on the site of.

jackfruit growing


ornamental banana

If you're interested in this hike, information in French can be found at La boucle des Bassins de la Mer et des Aigrettes depuis la Rivière du Mât.

See also: