Pictures from Mahebourg on the southeast coast of Mauritius: the "Mouchoir Rouge" islet, the Ville-Noire bridge and the National HistoryMuseum in Mahebourg.
Mouchoir Rouge ("Red Handkerchief") islet at Mahebourg.
Mahebourg is the nearest tourist destination from the international airport of Mauritius which is located only ten minutes away from the city. It is also the largest town in the southeast side of the island which was the cradle of the Dutch and then French colonization. The city lies at the foot of the imposing Pic du Lion.
Mahebourg is named after Mahé de la Bourdonnais (1699 - 1753), the famous French governor who gave an important impulse to the economic development of the colony. After the conquest by the British, the capital of the colony was transferred from Mahebourg to Port Louis on the western coast of the island.
Mahebourg retained its street grid and some other traces from its colonial past. Unlike the hectic cities in the north-east (Port Louis, Grand Baie,...), Mahebourg is a quiet place, excepted on Mondays when the weekly market takes place.
The market, the boat trips to the coral islands of the Bay (Ile de la Passe, Ile Vacoas, Ile Fouquets,...), the National History Museum and the nearby craft shops, the Notre-Dame-des-Anges church are the main local attractions. The Notre-Dame-des-Anges church was built in 1849 and has been renovated several times since then. It has splendid roof timbers.
Mahebourg is an ideal base for travelers visiting the historical places in the district of Grand Port or the tourist attractions in the south part of the island, including the nearest ones: the Ile aux Aigrettes, the Blue Bay Lagoon and the beaches starting south of Point Esny.
The Mouchoir Rouge islet is a lovely small island that faces the waterfront of Mahebourg. It takes its name from the red color of the roofs of the few buildings on the islet. Mouchoir Rouge is told to have been bought by an Arab sheik who converted it into a luxury guest house.
The Mahebourg waterfront is a meeting and leisure spot for the residents of the city.
Cavendish Bridge, better known as Ville-Noire Bridge.
Cavendish Bridge is a stone and concrete bridge that connects the center of the Mahebourg to Ville-Noire. Built a hundred years ago and inaugurated in 1911 by Governor Sir Cavendish Boyle, the bridge is the longest of the island. It is a national monument. It replaces a wooden bridge, dating back from 1850, which did not support the heavy trailers transporting sugar.
The bridge area is a meeting place for local young people.
A palanquin, National History Museum (formerly Historical and Naval Museum) in Mahebourg (Mauritius).
The National History Museum (formerly known as Historical and Naval Museum in Mahebourg) is housed in a colonial mansion located in a beautiful park at Mahebourg.
The museum deals with the different periods of the history of Mauritius including some facts such as the naval battle of Vieux Grand Port (a French victory that could not prevent the British troops from conquering the colony a few months later), slavery, the coolie trade, and the Saint Geran shipwreck as well as some famous people who have marked the history of the island like Mahé de la Bourdonnais and Pierre Poivre. The “Coolie trade” refers to the importation of Asian contract laborers (especially Indians) after the abolition of slavery.
Local artisans display their products in a few shops located in the park of the Museum.
The above picture shows a palanquin found in the National History Museum in Mahebourg. During the French colonial era, the wheel carriages were not usable in many trails of the island. Women and children were then transported in a palanquin, a kind of enclosed chair. The palanquin was carried by four slaves. Usually, one or more teams of porters, slaves carrying the luggage and the head of the family with his horse escorted the palanquin.
With the road development under British rule, palanquins became obsolete in Mauritius.