Cilaos

10th October 2015. Reunion.

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From Mauritius I flew to Reunion.  This is a very different island.  When the British conquered both islands towards the end of the Napoleonic Wars, they retained Mauritius but allowed Reunion to revert to the French.  They are about the same size and Mauritius has a population of 1.2 million compared to 800,000 for Reunion but Mauritius seems much more densely populated.  Mauritius has lost most of its forest and wildlife but Reunion has retained much of its original forest cover and 40% of it is designated World Heritage areas.  Reunion is a highly volcanic island with an active volcano and three cirques or inactive calderas.  I headed for one of the cirques on my arrival.

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Architecture, Cilaos, Landscape, Photography, Reunion, Street photography, Travel

An hour or two after I landed and picked up the rental car, here is a tiny village perched precariously on the side of a mountain valley. You may be able to make out the edge of the road at the right of the image.

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Architecture, Cilaos, Landscape, Photography, Reunion, Street photography, Travel

I landed in the Saint-Pierre Airport in the south of the island and headed to the Cirque of Cilaos.  The main town there is also called Cilaos.

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Architecture, Cilaos, Landscape, Photography, Reunion, Street photography, Travel

Another view from the road on the way in.  Cilaos is derived from a Malagasy word meaning “The Place You Never Leave”.

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Architecture, Cilaos, Landscape, Photography, Reunion, Street photography, Travel

Here we are in the main street of the town of Cilaos, with a variety of places to eat and drink.

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Architecture, Cilaos, Landscape, Photography, Reunion, Street photography, Travel

In Reunion we are actually in France and Cilaos is by no means a run down town but this building on the main street had more than its fair share of character.

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Architecture, Cilaos, Landscape, Photography, Reunion, Street photography, Travel

A view in Cilaos with the wall of the cirque in the distance.

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Architecture, Cilaos, Landscape, Photography, Reunion, Street photography, Travel

About 10,000 people live in the Cirque of Cilaos, though this is not evident in this view.

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Architecture, Cilaos, Landscape, Photography, Reunion, Street photography, Travel

I stopped at La Roche Merveilleusse and climed the stairway to the top.  The sign says “The legend says that women who had fertility problems came rub their belly against the rock; This made them fertilized”.

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Architecture, Cilaos, Landscape, Photography, Reunion, Street photography, Travel

This image and the next five are from the top of La Roche Merveilleusse.

This one and the next two show an overall view from left to right.

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Architecture, Cilaos, Landscape, Photography, Reunion, Street photography, Travel .

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Architecture, Cilaos, Landscape, Photography, Reunion, Street photography, Travel

The town of Cilaos in the middle.

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Architecture, Cilaos, Landscape, Photography, Reunion, Street photography, Travel

A telephoto view of the centre of the previous image.

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Architecture, Cilaos, Landscape, Photography, Reunion, Street photography, Travel

No shortage of arresting viewpoints….

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Architecture, Cilaos, Landscape, Photography, Reunion, Street photography, Travel .

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Architecture, Cilaos, Landscape, Photography, Reunion, Street photography, Travel

This is the backyard of the gite I was staying in at Bras Sec (a gite is perhaps a B&B with culture).  There was a wonderful dinner with all the guests and residents sitting around a long table (in traditional style, as you see in many French films).  There was an animated conversation mainly in French, occasionally translated for my benefit.  I had done a French course on CDs before setting out on the trip and could say some simple things but understanding a conversation was another matter.

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Architecture, Cilaos, Landscape, Photography, Reunion, Street photography, Travel

Here is a section of road that you can see changing from two lanes, one each way, to one lane, going both ways.  In these situations one hopes you don’t have to end up backing up.  Not unlike some of the roads in Maui in Hawaii in that respect except that the ones here are all paved and in good condition.  The rental cars have manual transmissions too, much more suitable for this sort of driving, whereas the ones in Hawaii were inexplicably all automatic.

On the way in to Cilaos, where I showed a couple of views at the beginning of this post, there are 200 sharp hairpins in 34 kilometres and some one-lane only parts.  Going back down the next day I had to come to a complete stop in a dozen occasions when someone going round a hairpin bend in the opposite direction failed to keep to their side of the road.  I didn’t have that problem myself when I came up that road.

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Architecture, Cilaos, Landscape, Photography, Reunion, Street photography, Travel

The next morning, I went for a drive along the western side of the cirque before heading off on my route for the day.  In the distance we have a tiny village nestled improbably in a wild landscape.

There are many opportunities for great walks in the centre of the island.  In fact there are no roads in the Cirque de Mafaite and you can only walk in.  However, I didn’t have time for that.  Another time perhaps.

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7 comments on “Cilaos

  1. v4vikey says:

    Seems Beautiful place to visit……..

    Like

  2. Beautiful photo essay!

    Like

  3. OK, that’s it. Reunion is on my bucket list. As to the automatic tranmission cars in Hawaii – it’s the US, few know how to drive a “stick shift”.

    Like

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