Most of the “chateaux” in Mauritius were built in the 19th century and the term often refers to the beautiful family houses of former agricultural landowners. These key witnesses to the history of the island have, each in its own way, managed to reinvent themselves to preserve a certain art de vivre.
Chateau de Labourdonnais
Chateau de Labourdonnais in the north of the island now serves as a museum, providing a valuable insight into the life of the estate’s owners in the 19th century. The site includes orchards, a vanilla plantation and a restaurant; guided tours of the entire property and fun discovery activities are also available. Domaine de Labourdonnais is famous for its fruit pastes as well as its guava, lychee, papaya and tamarind jams, which are an absolute must-taste. You can get all these delights from the estate’s shop.
Heritage Le Chateau
Tucked away on the heights of Bel Ombre, Heritage Le Chateau was built by a wealthy Indian landowner, Hajee Jackaria Hajee Ahmed who, however, never visited the house. The building has been recently renovated by the French firm, Perrot et Richard, which was also involved in the restoration of the Sainte Chapelle, the Grand Palais and the Comédie Française, among others. It overlooks the vast, 2,500-hectare natural sanctuary of Heritage Bel Ombre. On the ground floor, there is now a gourmet restaurant inspired by Mauritian cuisine, with a menu specially designed by the French Michelin-starred chef, David Toutain. The first floor has been converted into a presidential suite. It is a great accommodation to spend a night and enjoy breakfast on the terrace with an unobstructed view over the beautiful French gardens.
Chateau Mon Desir
This house stands gracefully among restored ruins and the remains of an old flour mill in Balaclava. A nearby cannon used to be part of former French fortifications. It is now a gourmet restaurant that offers fine international cuisine, combining classic staples with modern influences. Chateau Mon Desir is known for its lavish Sunday brunch (served with a glass of champagne) and High Tea, inspired by the traditional English afternoon tea. Don’t forget to book your table beforehand!
Chateau du Reduit
The history of Chateau du Reduit is a little different. In 1747, Governor Barthelemy David decided to build a place of refuge in the Moka region for women and children in case the British attacked Isle of France. The chateau was requisitioned in 1767 to accommodate Governor Dumas and from then on served as the official residence for all Governors and Presidents of the Republic. The large garden is open to visitors once a year, but they are not allowed to enter the chateau. This is a rare opportunity to take a closer look at the building.
Demeure des Aubineaux
Located in Forest Side, near Curepipe, this wooden house has retained all its original furniture and paintings. A visit of the living spaces is like a leap back into the island’s colonial history. You will also see the old stables, which have been turned into a shop and a distillery. Feel free to take a walk in the Camphor Garden to soak up this ancient way of life. Domaine des Aubineaux is part of the Tea Route, which includes two other interesting stops, Bois Cheri and Saint Aubin.
Demeure Saint Antoine
Located on the edge of the village of Goodlands, Demeure Saint Antoine is recognisable by its various adjoining rooms and verandas adorned with colonnades. You can have lunch or dinner in the restaurant, La Salle à Manger, which previously served as the kitchen and dining room for the household (kitchens were often separate buildings to reduce the risk of fire). You can also stay in rooms furnished and decorated in period style. A truly immersive experience! The garden is simply amazing with its age-old banyan trees
Eureka La Maison Créole
Set amid verdant nature in the heart of the island, at the foot of Mount Ory, it’s easy to imagine the gentle way of life that characterised Eureka La Maison Créole. The house, which has retained all its charm and the rustic adjoining kitchen, which is still operational, are open to visitors! Take some time to enjoy a typical Creole meal on the terrace and if you are still up for it, you can take a post-meal stroll down to the waterfall, have a swim or simply catch some fresh air. This is undoubtedly the highlight of your visit to this house!