Here are some of the museums you can visit in Mauritius:
Chateau de Labourdonnais
On the road to the north, you can stop at Mapou to visit The château de Labourdonnais.
The château de Labourdonnais is a stunning colonial house that has been restored to show the lifestyle of the families who lived there in the nineteenth century.
Once past the gate from the parking lot, start by reaching the house from the sumptuous avenue in front of the house.
The garden is magnificent and huge! I could just picture children running and playing around on the grass. So if you have little ones with you, let them have a go at it!
In front of the house, there is a round fountain and two lions statues guard the stairs. Two wide doors will let you inside.
Unfortunately, we don’t have any picture of the interior of the house, as photographs are not allowed inside.
Through the visit, you will see the furniture, wallpaper, dinnerware and various objects used by the house’s inhabitants.
A little touch of technology has been added to the visit and makes it somewhat more lively. You will hear children’s conversation in the living room. Upstairs a screening room will let you see how the Château has been restored and you can also view photos on screens while you listen to mini-documentaries using headphones (not all of them were in working condition at the time of our visit though).
After the house visit, you can wander a little bit in the orchard on the right of the house where you can find a great variety of trees, each labelled. You can also see giant tortoises.
There is also a restaurant next to the Château and the orchard. We haven’t eaten there at the time of our visit, but I’ve had feedback from one of my readers that it was quite nice.
Next to the restaurant, you can find a tasting bar. Keep your entry tickets to the Château as they entitle you to a tasting of one of the different types of rum produced by the domain’s distillery.
I would encourage you to go for the tasting as the rum is of very high quality, almost liquorish and very delicate on the palate. Unfortunately they are not for sale at the bar, or we would definitely have bought a bottle or two!
Behind the restaurant is the distillery. We had a nice guide who explained the process and techniques of distillation to us. You can also have a stop at their boutique.
My, at the time three and a half years old, son was with us at the time of our visit, and I wouldn’t actually advice on bringing young children along for the visit. They don’t have as much interest in the history of the place and they easily get impatient. There is a bit to read if you want to immerse yourself in the history and it’s not easily done if you are constantly distracted. A strategy if you have young children might be to come with other adults so that a group can watch them while they play in the garden and you can take turns to visit the Château.
Address: Labourdonnais, Mapou
Tel: 266 9533
Fax: 266 6415
Opening hours: Everyday from 9am to 5pm
By the parking of La Preneuse Beach, in the west of the island, stands a ‘Martello’ tower which has been refurbished in the late 1990s and transformed into a museum.
This is a short (about half an hour) but interesting visit you can do on your way to the beach.
The tower was built while the island was a British colony for protection. With its round structure and very thick walls it was resistant to canon fire.
“The interior of a classic British Martello tower consisted of three storeys (sometimes with an additional basement). The ground floor served as the magazine and storerooms, where ammunition, stores and provisions were kept. The garrison of 24 men and one officer lived in a casemate on the first floor, which was divided into several rooms and had fireplaces built into the walls for cooking and heating…” source: Wikipedia
This is exactly what you can see in real!
The entrance is now on the ground floor whereas, at the time, the only access was on the upper floor. Soldiers had access to it with a ladder. A staircase has also been added inside for easy access to the upper floor which didn’t exist at the time.
Unfortunately photographs of the interior of the tower are only allowed for personal use, so I won’t be able to post any here.
When you come into the tower you can see the water tank through a transparent glass. There is a lever so that the water can be moved. Children usually like that feature very much.
The powder store now contains some bullets and canon balls that have been found in the area. Soldiers had to take off their shoes when entering the powder store so as not to create any sparks that would have been dangerous.
On this floor, you will also see some explanations of the operations of the tower, similar to the cross cut picture of the tower above and some artifacts. There is also a model ship of ‘La Preneuse’, the ship after which the beach is named. This is fun as you can press red buttons to light up different places of the ship to show the emplacement of the anchor, captain’s cabin, etc. Although the lights are a bit tiny and not all the lights were in working order at the time of the visit.
On the upper floor, you can also see various artifacts that have been found nearby. The officer’s room gives a nice idea of how they lived at the time. There is also a chimney with some of the things they used at the time, like pots and an old iron in which coals were put to heat it up.
“The roof or terreplein was surmounted with one or two cannon on a central pivot that enabled the guns to rotate up to 360 degrees. A well or cistern within the fort supplied the garrison with water. An internal drainage system linked to the roof enabled rainwater to refill the cistern.” source: Wikipedia
At the time of operation, the tower apparently had two cannons, a bigger one facing the sea and a smaller one facing the land. The bigger one only has been found and can be seen on top of the roof.
The structure holding it is new, although you can see pieces of the old one that have been kept.
There is a canon ball on display there that you can (try to) lift up to feel how heavy they were.
You can also see the holes and drains used to collect water.
Here are two views from the roof top:
On the way out, you can stop by the welcoming counter as there are various books and souvenirs that are on sale.
This is a nice little museum to know about. I probably wouldn’t go out of my way to come visit it, but if you are in the area or visiting the west of the island, it is an interesting stop to add to your list of things to do.
Address: La Preneuse, Black River
Tel: 471 0178
Tuesdays to Saturdays: 9:30 am to 5 pm
Sundays & Public Holidays: 9:30 am to 1:30 pm
You will find the Photography museum at the very end of ‘La rue du vieux Conseil’ in Port-Louis, a charming pedestrian road made of rocks opposite the Theater. The entrance is the first door on the left as you go through the archway. There wasn’t any signs on or near the door at the time of our visit and we nearly missed it… From outside, it doesn’t really look like you’re going to go into a museum, but don’t be mistaken because as soon as you set foot inside, you are immersed in a world of photography.
The museum is quite small but it is a museum full of heart. It was born of the passion of its owner for Photography, Mr Tristan Bréville, and this passion can be felt throughout the exhibitions.
There is no guided visit per se, however, Mrs Marie Noelle Bréville is usually at your disposal to talk about the different equipments and photos exposed.
When you come in, the first thing you see are very interesting old cameras and movie projecting equipment.
You can even look in the cameras to see… 3D photographs! One would think that 3D is something from our modern world. Well, think again! The first camera I looked into showed a photograph taken of ‘La rue du Gouvernement’ in 3D taken ages ago! It was quite amazing!
As you stroll along, you will also see various type of machinery used for different things. One of them took photos in order to make out maps with a scale, others were used in the printing industry.
Mrs Bréville also gave us lots of information about the very first newspaper to see the day here in Mauritius and the methods used to print it out.
Three little rooms in the center of the museum display various cameras, from very old ones to more modern one, a wide collection of books on photography and some of the very first ‘daguerreotypes’ (the forerunner of photography) on metal or on ceramic.
The first ‘daguerreotype’ has been acquired and brought back to Mauritius only a few months after the technique had been discovered. Unfortunately, it was not recovered, but you can still see its lense.
Of course you can also see some of the photos Mr Bréville has taken throughout the years on the walls of the museum as you walk around.
I really appreciated this walk through the history of photography and the hard work and warmth of its owners. If you have even the slightest interest in photography and its history, I think you will appreciate it too!
Address: Rue du Vieux Conseil, Port Louis
Tel: 211 1705
Opening hours: Monday to Friday from 9am to 3pm
Source: discover mauritius island