WELCOME TO MAHEBOURG
"There is something relentlessly charming about bite-size Mahébourg (my-boor), where it's all about simple pleasures: an interesting museum, a buzzing market, spicy street food, good budget lodgings, a pretty backdrop with beautiful beaches and an eyeful sight on the Grand Port Bay."
- The Loney Planet
Found in the South-West of the island of Mauritius, you will come across an old colonial capital of Mauritius, Mahebourg. Located on the shores of the country’s biggest lagoon, it is the village that is closest to the island’s only airport. Unique due to its amalgam of colonial and Creole architecture, Mahebourg is a quiet coastal village that is animated solely on market day or for festivals. Founded in 1805, the town was named after the famous French governor Mahé de Labourdonnais. There is something relentlessly charming about this village. It’s all about simple pleasures: a fascinating museum, a vibrant market, delicious street food, affordable accommodation and beautiful beaches along its coastline.
16th - 17th Century
Mauritius was long uninhabited, though it was probably known to Arab seafarers from the 10th century or earlier. It was visited by the Portuguese in the early 16th century, but they did not settle the island. The Dutch took possession of it from 1598 to 1710, called it Mauritius for the stadhouder (governor) Maurice of Nassau (Photo on left), and attempted to settle the island in 1638–58 and again in 1664–1710; abandoning their attempts, they left it to pirates. In context of commemorating the arrival of the first Dutch Settlers, an obelisk was erected at Ferney about 4km from Mahebourg (see photo below).
17th - 18th Century
In 1721 the French East India Company (logo is shown above) occupied Mauritius, which was renamed Île de France. Settlement proceeded slowly over the next 40 years. In 1767 the French crown took over the island’s administration from the French East India Company. The French authorities brought African slaves to the island and established sugar planting as the main industry, and the colony prospered. In 1805, the French established its capital for trading and naval activities (photos below), and the capital was named MAHEBOURG after the famous French governor Mahé de Labourdonnais. Many of the French Settlement are now Historical Monuments which landmarks Mahebourg.
At the beginning of the 19th century, when England and France were at war, privateers based on Île de France were a continual threat to British and Indian merchant vessels. This led to the Great Battle of Grand Port and all witnessed by Mahebourg. During the great battle, the first island to fall in the hands of the British was Bourbon (Reunion Island). While preparing to take over Ile de France (Mauritius Island), Captain Willoughby, Commander of the British fleet, landed on Ile de la Passe, in the South East of the island (about 6km from Mahebourg).
In order to win over the local population, the British distributed propaganda pamphlets to the people of Mahebourg. While on Ile de la Passe, three French ships were seen entering the Grand Port harbor. Willoughby tried to mislead the French ships by raising a French flag. His strategy was to put the French off their guards and let them come into firing range. Unfortunately, his gunners misfired and the British were defeated. The Battle of Grand Port was the only French victory over the British at sea during the Napoleonic period (see photo above - Battle of Vieux Grand Port). To heal up their wounded, both French and British captains were treated at the Castel of Gheude (now Mahebourg Museum).
The British, however, came back. They landed at Cap Malheureux, in the North of the island, and marched towards Port Louis (Port Napoleon). On the 3rd of December 1810, the French capitulated to the British, and the British thereof took over the island. There exist nowadays a Naval Museum at Mahebourg where the Battle of Grand Port is commemorated (see photo below).
19th - 20th Century
Sir Robert Farquar, the first British Governor to establish control all over the Mauritius. He did not want Mauritius to be governed by the East India Company but by the British Crown. In order to have political control, certain jobs were reserved for the British. The post of Governor, Military Commander and Judicial assessors were reserved for the British. Exception made of these three jobs everything remained in French hands, which led to a big change in the administration of the country and its trading - leading the shift from Mahebourg to the creational of a New Capital Port Louis.
It was during British rule that slavery was abolished in 1835 and Indentured laborers were contracted from India. A monument was erected in the favor to mark the abolition of slavery which still stands today at Pointe Canon (Mahebourg - photo below).
In the early 20th Century, the country and Mahebourg experienced an increasing growth in many axes of the economic and agricultural sectors. To progress further, modernize means of transportation system was needed, which led to the introduction of a railway network with Mahebourg (photo below), Curepipe, and Port-Louis as hubs, and quickly developed covering most of the island.
In 1936 the Mauritian Labour Party was created and in 1968 the island became an independent country. The second half of the 20th Century is marked by reforms brought to the economy which led to the economic boom after 1982 and to the transformation of the island from an underdeveloped, third world country, into a developing country.
Nowadays, Mahébourg is a bustling center of local trade. The new waterfront promises some memorable walks along the sea-side. It even has a casino, mark of a developing tourism industry. There is a growing number of small inns in the city itself and the surrounding districts which cater for local and foreign visitors. Inspired by the Naval Battle of Vieux Grand Port, Mahebourg is very well known for its regatta events and Trade Market on special festivals.
The village is well known for its lagoon and its fishing industry. Some must-go places around Mahebourg are Blue Bay, Île aux Aigrettes, Île aux Fouquets (or Île au Phare), Le Bouchon, Pointe d'Esny, and Le Vieux Grand Port. There are also some big and famous hotels such as Shandrani Resort & Spa 5* and Le Preskil 4* amongst others.
The Cavendish Bridge
The Cavendish Bridge
The Mahebourg Cavendish Bridge began construction in 1908 and completed in 1911. It is named after the governor Cavendish Bhoyle. Today, the bridge has for main purpose to link the Mahebourg Village to ‘Ville Noire’, as it is called on the other side. It bridges the gap over the ‘La Chaux’ River (Riviere La Chaux). This was among the first bridges to be using a concrete construction instead of being fully stoned as was the case for bridges before that time.
Naval Battle Museum
Mahebourg Celebrated the 200th anniversary of the Naval Battle of 1810 at Grand Port which was a battle between the British and the French. The French won on 28th August 1810, their only naval battle against the British during the Napoleon period. Back then, Mauritius was known as Ile de France.
The Ministry of Art and Culture has organized the celebration of this historical event in a great way at Mahebourg, and we now have the Grand Port Naval Battle Museum at Mahebourg (Near waterfront)
The Abreuvoir (L’Abreuvoir), found near the Mahebourg Waterfront (now) at Rue due Camizard, was constructed in 1865. This monument, or rather ‘museum’, which goes unnoticed by many served to allow horses to quench their thirst whilst waiting for the arrival of the train passengers.
Its architecture is a tribute to the skill of the masons, engravers and sculptors of the time.
The ‘Lavoir’ (Washhouse/Le Lavoir) constructed round 1770 and with beautifully crafted rectangular stones.
The ‘lavoir’ served as a washing facility to local women on the bank of La Chaux River, near the Cavendish Bridge, however its primary purpose was for the cleaning of uniforms and other outfits for french soldiers posted in the batteries on Ile de la Passe, Ile aux Fouquets, Pointe des Regates, Pointe Jerome and Pointe de la Colonie.
The obelisk is found near KFC Mahebourg on the bus terminal. It was erected in memory of the saviors of the crew members of ship Crysolite. Five fishermen died while rescuing the survivors of the wreck of Crysolite which occurred in March 1874 in the lagoon of Vieux Grand Port
Notre Dame des Anges
The butter-coloured tower of Notre Dame des Anges church dominates the Mahébourg skyline. The original church was built in 1849, but it has been restored several times over the years, most recently in 1938.
Local people visit throughout the day to make offerings to beloved missionary Père Laval, whose statue stands to your right immediately inside the door.
National Naval History Museum
Located at the very entrance of Mahebourg, surrounded by a beautiful and breathing countryside with at the back, Riviere la Chaux following.
The Naval History Museum is ope to public, and have contents and items that will throw the public back during the ear of naval commerce, battles and the culture.
Found in Mahebourg, the Chateau de Robillard or Gheude Castle was the dwelling of the Robillard family since the colonies and has been later taken over by the Government and now converted into the Naval Museum of Mahebourg.
Ile Aux Phare
A historical monument to the southeast of Mahebourg, "Ile Aux Phare" (or Ile Aux Fouquet's) has had an advantageous geographical positioning, an essential point from the first days of the history of Mauritius. This five-hectare island, set on the reefs, on the edge of a frightful abyss, played a key role during the era of colonization, the outpost of maritime surveillance in the Bay of Grand Port.
Its structures, forming part of the oldest fortifications of Mauritius, it witnessed the battles of powers in the colonization of the Mascarene islands. Today, declared a historical monument, a good part of its fortifications dating from the Napoleonic era has been rehabilitated to preserve this part of the history. The site, classified as a historical monument, is currently undergoing a rehabilitation program.
The “Dalblair” was a steel ship that wrecked onto the reefs of Point D'Esny on the 4th of February 1902 as it reached the south east seas of Mauritius. The ship was carrying a coal cargo from Cardiff to Mauritius, but unfortunately, the crew was surprised by a change in climatic condition and cyclone.
Located right in front of the Mahebourg waterfront, the Mouchoir Rouge island has had always left visitors buzzed- why a house is built there? why this red-roofed house? What is its purpose? Well, we will let you discover this one by yourself.
Abolition of Slavery Monument
Mauritius had a history of slaves and indentured labourers who were brought over to work on the sugar cane fields. These slaves and labourers arrived from mainland Africa and India. In recent years several monuments have been erected to remember this period (the Aapravasi Ghat in Port Louis, a monument relating to Black Slaves at Le Morne). This monument in Mahebourg lies in a garden at the Mahebourg Waterfront. The central piece was sculpted by Jean Michel Hotentote, a Mauritian artist.Situated on the amazing waterfront in Mahébourg with fascinating scenic views, it serves as a reminder of times when not everyone was free.
Old Railway Station
The history of rail transport in Mauritius began in the 1860s. The Mauritian rail network was quickly built and it soon provided service to most of the island. It was a key factor in the socio-economic development of Mauritius during its period of operation. However, due to persistent unprofitability from 1948 to 1953, it was finally closed in 1964. The remnants of the railway system - the station can still be visited on the north side of the Mahebourg Waterfront, and the wagons were moved to the Museum of Mahebourg.
Naval Battle Monument
At the very heart of the Mahebourg Waterfront, stands the obelisk to commemorate the great battle that took place in the bay of Vieux Grand Port in 1810. Visitors can stand by the monument to glaze over the whole bay of Grand port with insight the old embarkment port, the lighthouse (ile aux Phare) and the great lagoon where the battle took place.
Four a Chaux (Limestone Factory)
Found on the river bank of Riviere La Chaux (Ville-Noire), this old limestone (la Chaux) factory is unfortunately now closed to public access. Sand and lime from the lagoon were exploited and brought here by boat through the River La Chaux (hence the name) to the factory canal where workers were producing lime and construction materials for the colonists (in Mahebourg).
Colonial Houses in Mahebourg
When you visit Mahébourg, you will get the opportunity to travel back to ancient times of Mauritius. The streets, in straights line and the houses of traditional architecture, are the symbols of the colonial past of this village during the French Settlement in Mahebourg.
While some of the old colonial houses were abandoned, some were renovated while others are still inhabited. So please respect the privacy of the locals when visiting by.
Our Golden Beaches
Blue Bay Beach
Found in the South East of Mauritius, and not far from the Mahebourg Waterfront. Blue Bay is one of the beaches where it is simply hard to get a bad picture. The contrasts are amazing. Once you reach Blue Bay beach, you will realize where the name comes from. The sea is crystal clear with many different blues shinning from all angle.
Blue Bay Beach can get quite crowded on weekends with locals and tourists to enjoy some relaxation on this beautiful beach. During the week, the beach is quite empty and you will have this beautiful beach almost for yourself. The beach is perfectly suited for swimming and relaxing. It is also possible to enjoy a very nice stroll along the beach seeing small beautiful bays away from the public.
Blue Bay is also very famous for the Blue Bay marine park which is the first and biggest marine park in Mauritius. Blue Bay Marine Park is an ideal destination for snorkeling trips. The Blue Bay Beach is easily accessible from Mahebourg.