used only during summer (due to prevailing winds) by the Dutch
and the French since the 1600's, and early 1700's. However, it
took all its importance when, in 1735 Labourdonnais decided to
make Port Louis the main harbour and the administration headquarters
Labourdonnais had the city plan made, ordered
the erection of buildings hosting services that were essential
to the colony… and to the good profits of the "Compagnie
des Indes." Among these infrastructures were the government
and military headquarters, aqueducts, hospitals, schools, granaries,
boat repairs, a printing office, a foundry, and… a powder
mill. Some of these works, especially the canals for wastewaters
that run across the streets, can still be seen today.
Port Louis is the capital of Mauritius
and received in 1964, the status of city. Port Louis has a residential
population of above 150,000 but receives as much visitors during
daytime as it is first of all the city of businesses.
Most medium to large organisations have their head offices or
at least a department or agency in Port Louis. Consequently,
on week days and in day time Port-Louis is
very busy with heavy road traffic but gets very quiet and empty
as from 7.00 p.m.; at least in the centre.
Generally dry and sunny, the climate can be either hot or very
Situated on the northwest coast, it lies at the feet of the
Moka range of mountains, which almost surrounds
it. Being small in area, the topography is regular: flat with
a gentle slope to the sea.
Peculiarity: Traffic jams. During rush hours (and now all day
long some days,) one must count 20 to 40 minutes to drive across
Port Louis. In the morning, the South part
of the motorway is so jammed that it can take more than 1 hour
to drive the last 25 kilometres. From the North it is hardly
Port-Louis itself and as a whole
is a place of interest, but more precisely, we would recommend
the "Place d'Armes
" and Chinatown
The place d'Armes is unavoidable as it is the converging point
of the North / South traffic and the main entrance and exit
points of Port Louis.
It is the most ancient part of Port Louis although many of
the very old buildings have now been replaced by roads and tall
It is especially a good starting point for visiting the other
parts of the town and the few monuments such as the original
government house, the most ancient theatre of the Indian Ocean,
the few paved roads (rue du vieux conseil, Georges Guibert street,)
the St Louis (Roman catholic) and St James (Church of England)
cathedrals, the central market, the national and postal museums
just to name a few.
Access to the waterfront is easy too.
of Port-Louis is also in the old Port Louis and is fascinating
as the atmosphere is really different from the neighbourhood.
The eldest inhabitants of the Port-Louis Chinatown dress the Chinese
way and have kept a deep Chinese accent making their speeches
Tiny shops, side-by-side all sell the same products obviously,
as they all sell all products. Second hand spare parts, plastic
toys, Chinese paintings, clothes, books and medicines may be found
in the same shop.
The heat, dust and the strong smell spread by the ingredients
and spices, proper to Chinese cuisine
will give you a real impression of China. For the moment, this
very animated region of Port Louis is quite deadly at night.
There is an effort to encourage the small restaurants and shops
to remain open in the evening but with not much success yet.
By day it is enough to stroll
down the small streets and observe the happenings. The shopping
centres are interesting as the boutiques are pretty well set
and there are some good bargains to make, especially since the
decided to become a duty-free
. However, it is far more amusing to shop in
the more typical areas and even at the central market.
The Port Louis Central Market has been renovated
in 2004 and is now a far better organised place, but it has
of course lost some of its peculiarity. Visiting the bazaar
is surely quite fun but is no more a “must” as
the same type of goods and more typical atmospheres can be
found in the other towns’ markets, namely in Mahebourg.
The National History Museum and the other private museums
remain interesting, especially when they carry out specific
Signal Mountain is accessible again; it offers a nice view
on the Capital.
By night, there is really not much; a few movies, a theatre
play sometimes and that’s it. Let’s hope that
the municipal efforts to wake up Port Louis at night will
pay as when there is a special event (concert or play,) Port
Louis suddenly becomes as glorious as it used to