Port Louis, Mauritius - Stein Travel
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Port Louis

The capital of the island of Mauritius is a town full of character and slightly faded elegance, set prettily within an amphitheatre of mountains at the mid-point of the west coastline. Port Louis is a noisy, bustling town with some rather hectic traffic by day, but is not a hot nightspot. Nightlife in Mauritius tends to focus on the holiday resorts. The Caudan Waterfront, however, does offer some restaurants and bright lights after dark.

Symbolic of its multi-faceted colonial history, the city boasts some fine French buildings dating from the 18th century, an Anglican and a Catholic cathedral, a mosque and a fortified citadel, known as Fort Adelaide. The fort is the best place from which to enjoy a panoramic view of the town, harbour and famous racecourse (which was once a French military parade ground, and became the first racecourse in the southern hemisphere).

It may be the capital, but Port Louis is not home to the vast majority of Mauritians; the main residential areas are in the cooler, wetter highlands inland. However, Port Louis is the gateway to the prime beaches and resorts of the Mauritian coast, including Flic en Flac and Grand Baie. Although the reason most people visit Mauritius is for sun and sea, the capital city has some interesting museums and entertaining excursions to offer for those who choose to make it their base for exploring the rest of the island.

Information & Facts

Climate

Port Louis has two very similar seasons, with beautiful warm weather nearly all year round. Summer is from November to April, with temperatures reaching as high as 86ºF (30ºC). Cyclones, with strong winds and heavy rain, can occur in Mauritius during the rainy season (January to March) and the average rainfall in Port Louis over this period is 8.3 inches (212mm). During winter, Port Louis' temperatures drop only a couple of degrees.

Getting Around

Travellers in Port Louis will find themselves getting around the town by foot, as none of the distances are too great. Taxis are readily available and efficient, and are easily recognisable by their yellow signs. Car rental agencies such as Hertz can be found throughout the town for visitors wanting to explore the island themselves.

Language

English is the official language of Mauritius, but the most widely used is French and the local dialect, Creole. Hindi, Urdu and Chinese are also spoken.

Money

The currency of Mauritius is the Mauritian Rupee (MUR), which is divided into 100 cents. Travellers cheques and foreign currency can be exchanged at banks, bureaux de change and larger hotels. Travellers cheques usually exchange at a better rate than cash. ATMs are widely available in most towns and hotels, restaurants and large retailers accept major credit cards.

Shopping

Since Mauritius is a completely duty-free country, shopping in Port Louis is something that all serious shopaholics should do at least once in their lifetime. From the plethora of shopping malls and street-side shops and vendors, to bustling markets, shopping in Port Louis might require some comfy walking shoes! Le Caudan Waterfont features 170 boutiques and is a must for those who prefer a more sophisticated shopping experience. All famous international designer names and fine jewellery shops can be found here and there is a wide variety of restaurants for weary shoppers to stop and refuel as well fabulous views over the marina where one can even take in a boat ride. Those who like to hunt out a good bargain should head for the Port Louis Central Market, which is open daily, where tourists can pick up souvenirs. A haggler's paradise where just about anything can be found, with a little perseverance, this market sells the usual tacky tourist tat, but amongst it are also great finds and popular buys such as Mauritian handicrafts, antiques, costume jewellery, DVDs, CDs, meat, seafood, fruit and vegetables. Shoppers should beware of pickpockets who operate in the frenzied jostle of Port Louis' flea markers. Holidaymakers can even fit in a spot of shopping while lazing on the beach as beach hawkers walk the shores selling paréos(sarongs), Ralph Lauren shirts, pineapples and shell jewellery all at the lowest price available, of course!

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