Monday, September 25, 2017

LUX* Saint Gilles, La Réunion.

My final trip with LUX* Resorts was at LUX* Saint Gilles, Île-de-La-Reunion. Unlike Mauritius, where the official language is English but the locals also speak French and Mauritian Creole, Réunion is one of France's “overseas departments”, therefore making their official language French, with the locals also speaking Réunion Creole. It was the 3 days I spent on this little island where I was able to truly had to exercise what little French I knew/could remember from school.

The French colonial style of the resort at Saint Gilles made it very different from the others in Mauritius & the Maldives. Saint Gilles is more of a destination for those holidaying from France, for the locals during the school break, and for some, as a place to host a business conference, so it had a very different feel to the others.

Having a deep affinity for the mountains, I'm glad I was lucky enough to go outside the resort for a quick hike up La Roche Verre Bouteille (max. alt. 1,310m) thanks to my new friend, Thomas. The name of the hike directly translates to The Rock Glass Bottle. Réunion is home to one of the most active volcanoes in the world (Piton de la Fournaise, which actually erupted 3 days after I left the island) and hiking is an extremely popular activity.

There's also a small village (Cirque de Mafate) that one can only access by walking—or helicopter. The residents of this volcanic crater (almost all being direct descendants of the original settlers, who were either slaves who fled or poor farmers) get supplies flown in once a month. Cirque de Mafate, as well as much of the island of Réunion, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can read more about Cirque de Mafate here, if you're curious. I'd love to be able to go there one day to talk to the villagers and understand their way of life, so different from the one that I know.

Amongst the climbing community, Réunion is also known for its many great routes. I hope to return one day to thoroughly explore the hiking and climbing the island has to offer (and also to drastically improve my French).

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