Located just under 10,000 km away from mainland France, the overseas French département of Reunion Island is at the heart of the Indian Ocean, near Mauritius and Madagascar. Being in the southern hemisphere seasons are reversed, and the weather is good all year round, although it can be cool in winter and very hot in summer. You should avoid the period from January to April, which is cyclone season.
The best time to come is during the southern hemisphere winter, from May to September (little rain, pleasant temperatures of around 25°C, but shorter days), or at the beginning of summer, from October to December (30°C temperatures, slightly longer days, tropical fruits ripen at the end of the year).
There are regular flights to Reunion from Orly or Charles de Gaulle airports. You will find reasonable airfares either by booking well in advance or at the last minute if you avoid school holidays (both mainland France school holidays, but also those of Reunion). Try Corsair: excellent value, convenient schedules, and daily flights from Orly.
For car rental at the airport try Auto Europe, who are reliable and without hidden costs. There’s no need to hire a 4WD, Reunion’s roads are in good condition!
Book accommodation or stay with friends or family if you have any on the island. Base yourself in the west or south so you can easily visit the whole island. Try AirBnB, as locals often travel to mainland France and this can be an ideal opportunity to rent someone’s home!
Alternatively, rent a bungalow or guesthouse. Hotels, located between St Leu and L’Hermitage, can be another (more expensive) solution.
There are a great many things to do in Reunion, but they can be summarized quite easily:
• Visit the 3 cirques: Cilaos, Mafate and Salazie, either on foot (the only option for Mafate), or by car
• Hike the volcano and/or Piton des Neiges if you’re fit (more than 1700m of positive and negative difference in altitude!)
• Visit botanical gardens, distilleries, and spice plantations; Reunion’s locally-grown vanilla and Bourbon pointu coffee are world renowned.
• The beaches (mainly at the lagoons of Saint-Leu and Saint-Gilles): make sure that swimming is permitted before entering the water. Do not swim in unauthorized areas, as sharks and strong currents are real dangers.
• Reunion’s culture is magnificent: cuisine, language, music (maloya and séga), handicrafts, etc.
Enjoy your stay, and don’t hesitate to let me know what your favorite places and experiences were. I hope you will like the island and its people as much as I do!
Gite le TAPACALA Ilet à Cordes (Cilaos)
Once you stay with Raymonda and Mickael, you understand the real meaning of being made welcome. They have a friendly smile and take an interest in each new visitor.
A very pleasant guest house to spend a few days at when visiting Cilaos.
Ideal for dinner and spending the night before hiking to Mafate via the Col du Taïbit mountain pass, as the start of the trail is close to the gîte.
I highly recommend eating there, as you can discover a local cuisine of excellent quality, typical of yesteryear.
Take the time to visit the village of Ilet à Cordes with Mickael.
Chez Mickaël et Raymonda Gonthier
2 C Chemin des Orangers
+262 0692 84 55 67
+262 0692 69 57 50
Gite Le bois de couleur in Marla, cirque of Mafate.
One of the most beautiful gîtes in Mafate, superb individual bungalows, breathtaking views, and Reunionese cuisine made using fine quality fresh local produce.
And a sauna too!
+262 693 11 70 00
Sleep in a bubble tent with a view of the stars in the forest of Les Makes (part of Reunion’s National Park) at an altitude of 1,500 meters.
For dinner, you can choose between Creole cooking or cheese fondue and raclette made using local produce, both are excellent! You probably never thought you’d find yourself eating cheese fondue in Reunion.
On Thursdays after dinner, you can take part in an astronomy evening to see the stars. Check dates on their website. On other evenings you can taste an old rum while sitting outdoors around a wood fire (it can get cold during Reunion’s cool season, especially in the mountains).
It costs more than a gîte, but the experience is unique!
+33 9 70 15 57 23
393, Route Forestière Des Makes
97421 ST LOUIS, FRANCE
L’auberge du Relais à Saint-Leu
211 Rue du General Lambert
+262 692 34 81 85
One of my favorite places in Reunion, serving authentic, traditional Creole cuisine.
The owner, Nicolas, will give you a very warm welcome.
Le Blue Margouillat à Saint-Leu
An exceptional hotel with a gastronomic restaurant and a spectacular view of the sunset. Great when you’re in the mood for fine dining or want to celebrate a special occasion.
6 Impasse Jean Albany,
+262 262 34 64 00
Le Reflet des îles à Saint-Denis
114 Rue Pasteur
+262 262 21 73 82
A culinary shrine to Creole food where you can find carris, rougails and other traditional dishes from Reunion. A must when visiting St Denis.
Le P’tit resto, Les Avirons
44 Avenue Général de Gaulle
+262 262 49 80 61
A nice little restaurant with French cuisine, reasonable prices, and a very warm welcome.
Le 211 Théâtre
A pocket-sized open-air theater that puts on plays from Reunion and sometimes further afield. Unique atmosphere, with a bar and friendly welcome; located in a courtyard next to the Auberge du Relais restaurant.
Deux Cent Onze Théâtre : Facebook
Yourtes en scène
An atypical and multicultural arts venue, with a wide range of performances.
103 Route Nationale 1, at the place known as “Ravine La Veuve” (near the speed camera), Saint-Leu
Saint-Leu rondavels: Chez Jean-Paul, Chez Tiroule, etc.
Several rondavels (round-shaped bars) near the Saint-Leu seafront host free concerts on Sunday evenings from 6pm onwards.
Le Cabaret Pat’jaune
Terrific dinner and show combination!
A wonderful evening of music, local culture, laughter and a traditional Creole dinner served by the performers themselves.
Pat’Jaune are a friendly family group from Reunion.
Going to see them is a great way to experience Reunion and its traditions. To book call
Claudine Tarby on
+ 262 692 858 114
39 rue du Père Favron
Plaine des Cafres
Website listing events, concerts, shows, etc.
Websites to help organize your trip:
Réunion.fr: this is the best place to find out about where to go, visit, and stay, and to book hiking gîtes.
Electric mountain biking with Frédéric: Ebike-Aventures
You can now cycle all over the island with the assistance of an electric bike.
Reunion can be very steep, but there’s no need to worry about that with an electric bike.
With a mountain e-bike you can even head to La Plaine des Sables and the volcano or visit the primary forest of Bébour.
Stand-up paddle with Bertrand in the lagoon at Trou d’eau: +262 (0)692 860 059
Other things to do:
Helicopter flight over the island: perfect for those who don’t like hiking or who lack time to see everything (doesn’t come cheap, but is an extraordinary experience). Both helicopter companies (Corail and Helilagon) are good.
Canyoning (Trou Blanc, Fleur Jaune, etc.)
Paragliding in St Leu
Snorkeling in the lagoons of Saint-Leu or Saint-Gilles
Visit the island’s waterfalls: there are more than 80 to choose from, e.g. Cascade Langevin.
Whether you go trekking in Mafate, Cilaos, Salazie, the forest of Bébour, at the volcano or up Piton des Neiges, the choice is endless.
Download the free app Rando tec-tec to plan the best itinerary.
Take account of altitude differences: 500 meters of elevation gain in one day is do-able, but you’ll need to be in good physical condition for 1000 meters a day or more.
To begin with, try hiking from Col des Bœufs to La Nouvelle or Marla.
Fitter hikers can trek to Marla via the Col du Taibit mountain pass, or attempt Piton des Neiges (3071m).
Markets: fresh fruit, spices, local crafts, etc.
Saint-Leu, Saturday mornings: small and pretty, my favorite market.
Étang Salé, Sunday mornings: very small, but a nice market.
Saint-Pierre and Saint-Paul, Fridays and Saturdays: the island’s two biggest markets.
Botanical gardens: take a guided tour!
Le Domaine du Café Grillé: does a great guided tour, you can see endemic plants, coffee, etc.
After the visit you can taste the two coffees grown only in Reunion Island: Bourbon pointu and Bourbon rond.
Maison du Coco: coconut workshops (Domaine de la Pointe des Châteaux).
Also sells a wide range of coconut-based products: vegetable oil, sugar, etc.
Jardin des Épices: a fascinating botanical tour best done with a guide
Labyrinthe en Champ Thé: Reunion’s only tea plantation, also produces geranium essential oil, etc.
Essential oil distilleries
On the road to Piton Maïdo, there are several essential oil distilleries in the small village of Petite-France. Try:
Herbalists: use of medicinal plants is widespread in Reunion, and local herbalists are almost minor celebrities. They can be found at the markets or you can make an appointment. Plants from Reunion can be found in bulk at pharmacies.
Spices & fruit
Bourbon vanilla: Plantation Vanilla Bourbon
Bourbon Pointu and Bourbon Rond coffee
Galabé (a traditional type of solid sugar)
Alcohol & rum
La Part des Anges: Unique!
Rums, spirits and liqueurs made using tropical fruit such as lychee, mango, pineapple, etc.
Rivière du Mât:
Excellent old rums: XO, 2006 or Opus 5
Dodo: *The* beer of Reunion
Phoenix (from Mauritius)
3 Horses (from Madagascar)
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Essential oil training for pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and all healthcare professionals.
Registered office: 23 ter Chemin des Ananas
97425 Les Avirons – Reunion Island
Digital unit: 15 Route de Manom
Phone: +33 (0)659 672 713
Fax: +33 (0)170 445 102