The capital and largest city of Mauritius, Port Louis consists of charming and threadbare Victorian buildings. Plan a day of touring to see the bazaars, spice and vegetable market, and the Place d'Armes, a square surrounded by colonial French architecture. Other attractions include the rather chaotic and hot Central Market with its colorful display of fruits, vegetables, herbs and souvenirs.
Nearby is the very modern Caudan Waterfront with numerous boutiques and restaurants; the Penny Museum with the Orange and Blue Penny stamps; the 19th-century Citadelle Fortress with an all-round view of Port Louis; and the Mauritius Institute with its Natural History Museum, featuring the extinct dodo.
A horse-racing track is open May-November. For inveterate gamblers, there's also a Chinese-style casino called L'Amicale at La Chaussee. Also visit Chinatown around Royal Road with its numerous restaurants.
North of Port Louis are many beautiful beaches, such as Pointe aux Piments, Mon Choisy, Pereybere, Cap Malheureux (with a red-painted chapel on the beach; service on Sundays), and Trou aux Biches. You can tour a live-coral display at the Aquarium near Trou aux Biches, as well as a Hindu Temple. Several islands off the northern coast may also be visited, including Ilot Gabriel.
Add another day if you want to make a trip into the surrounding countryside to the beautiful Royal Botanical Gardens in nearby Pamplemousses (northeast of Port Louis). Established in 1770, the gardens have giant water lilies, the rare talipot palm and other plants, which unfortunately aren't very well marked, so take a guide (available at the entrance).
Also in Pamplemousses, you can visit the church and cemetery where the first French colonizers are buried, as well as the nearby Aventure du Sucre Museum, which retraces the history of sugarcane in Mauritius. Yet another excursion can be taken to the governor-general's beautifully landscaped residence in Le Reduit, south of town.
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