Saint-Denis is a pretty town with green mountains on one side and the beautiful Indian Ocean on the other. Established by the island’s first governor in the 17th century, Saint-Denis is the capital and cultural center of Réunion. Visit museums, galleries and historical landmarks. Relax in picturesque parks and at lively seafront promenades. Shop in chic boutiques and sample delectable Creole food.
The Centre Ville is Saint-Denis’ heart, where you’ll find many colonial, Creole and religious monuments. Check out Maison Carrère and Maison Kichenin, two fine examples of Creole architecture. Admire the colonial-style Anciens Magasins Aubinais, Ancienne Maison des Notaires and Maison Deramond-Barre. Don’t miss the striking Mosquée Noor E Islam and the Tuscan-style Cathédrale de Saint-Denis.
The town’s museums showcase the art and natural history of Réunion. Spot displays of birds, cats, primates, whales and other animals at the Musée d’Histoire Naturelle. See work by Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso and local painter Léon Dierx at the Musée Léon Dierx. Find changing expositions of work by Réunion artists at L’Artothèque.
Go to Le Barachois, a waterfront park with sweeping coastal views, a battery of cannons and a monument of the world-famous aviator Roland Garros. Stroll along Sentier Littoral Nord, a scenic path that stretches east along the coast. Back in town, unwind amid the tropical plants and ornamental ponds of Jardin de l’Etat. Alternatively, join walkers, joggers and picnickers at Parc de la Trinité.
Experience Saint-Denis’ revered food scene, which blends Asian, Creole, French and Indo-Muslim flavors. Be sure to try cari, which is meat, poultry or seafood made with garlic, ginger, turmeric and abundant tomatoes. Bars, bakeries, cafés and restaurants pack the streets of the town’s Centre Ville and Le Barachois districts.
Reach Saint-Denis by flying to Roland Garros Airport, which is just a 20-minute drive from the Centre Ville, and then get around the atmospheric streets on foot. Often overlooked in favor of Réunion’s natural wonders, those that visit Saint-Denis discover a welcoming town with similarities to a French provincial village.