Stuck at home because of the lockdown, we all crave to get out of it! In the meantime, how about exploring some houses by way of selected snapshots, in the comfort of yours? (Re)discover today the colonial houses of Mauritius.

They bear witness of a Historical past, full of stories… These traditional Creole houses, dating back to the French and British colonial eras, are a wonderful heritage for Mauritius. Some bicentennial and others even tricentennial, these houses of yesteryear hold the chronicles of the Mauritian History and that of the families who have lived there. Here is a quick overview of these architectural masterpieces.

Architectural gems of a forgotten era

While many of them were destroyed and some have been abandoned, urbanisation has saved a few colonial houses. Although they are becoming rarer in the Mauritian landscape, you may still find some scattered around the island.

As architectural masterpieces, they reflect the know-how and the art of living of their old and new inhabitants. Built to perfectly match the climatic conditions of the island, they have confronted many storms and cyclones. While the sloping roofs help to evacuate rainwater, the stylish corrugated sheet shingles, along wood, contribute to a warm and friendly atmosphere. The ceiling, on the other hand, is deliberately raised to temper the island’s hot climate.

Maison coloniale non loin du Champ de Mars ©Vintage Mauritius
Maison coloniale sur Rose Hill - Ambrose Street ©Vintage Mauritius
Maison coloniale sur la Rue St Georges ©Vintage Mauritius
Maison sur la rue Shand, Beau bassin ©Vintage Mauritius

Beauties of the past, to visit as soon as possible

Over the years, these motionless spectators of epic pages of History have been reinventing themselves. Here is a small (non-exhaustive) selection of some beautiful mansions, which once belonged to owners of former agricultural plantations.

  • Le Château Villebague:
This mansion proudly stands in a village the north of the island, not far from Petite Julie. It was built in 1740, and has accommodated many historical figures, including Mahé de Labourdonnais. However, the house bears the name of René Magon de la Villebague, former governor of the islands of France and of Bourbon. On the estate, known as the very first sugar exploitation in Mauritius, we can see the ruins of an old factory.
  • Le Château de Labourdonnais:

This magnificent historic structure created in the 19th century by Christian Wiehe is nestled in Mapou, just a few minutes from the northern motorway. Château de Labourdonnais was named after the French governor to honour him. The Labourdonnais estate is an ode to Mauritian heritage, highlighting furniture from yesteryear, as well as luxuriant orchards, a distillery and a confectionery.

  • La Maison Euréka:

The colonial house of Eureka, completed in 1830, is today one of the most visited museums in Mauritius. It shelters a set of memories of the colonial era, and has been the home of several key families. As one of the largest residences on the island, the rooms abound in precious preserved antiques, in ebony or painted porcelain.

  • Le Château Mon Plaisir:

This historic building has sheltered several legendary characters. Mahé de La Bourdonnais resided there during his governorship, followed by Pierre Poivre in 1767. When the latter became the owner, he developed the wonderful botanical garden of Pamplemousses on these lands. In 1836, when Adrien d’Epinay became the owner, he had the intention of devoting himself to horticulture. Classified as a national heritage in 1951, the residence now belongs to the state.

  • La Demeure de Saint Aubin:

Erected in 1819, this superbly maintained colonial house is today a restaurant serving delicious local dishes. The Saint Aubin estate was one of the main sugar factories in the south of the island. It also shelters a naval museum, a lush garden and an artisanal rum distillery.