Discover historic architecture, natural wonders, picturesque beaches and a vibrant food market at this town on the northwest coast of Réunion.
Set around a sweeping bay of volcanic sand and backed by rugged hills is Saint-Paul. It’s a town that blends centuries-old architecture with beaches and markets. It’s also a great place to arrange canyoning, hiking and snorkeling trips amid Réunion’s stunning natural beauty. Situated on Réunion’s northwest coast, Saint-Paul is the island’s second-largest town and is part of a region of the same name.
See a slice of the town’s history at Cimetière Marin. This sea-facing cemetery at the southern edge of town is home to the tombs of noble families, poets, pirates and sailors. Nearby is Les Grotte des Premiers Français, a cave believed to be the landing site of the island’s first French settlers.
Stroll along the waterfront toward the town center and Marché Forain de Saint-Paul. Browse the stalls of this open-air market for handicrafts, chutneys, spices, exotic fruits and vegetables. Sample typical Creole snacks such as coconut chicken, péi (curry) and sausage rougail (stew).
Be sure to check out Saint-Paul’s fascinating array of historic landmarks. Among these are the 19th-century Hôtel Lacay and La Maison Serveaux manor house. Take a guided tour of Villa Rivière, a neoclassical villa and flower-filled garden established in the late 18th century. Don’t miss the Tamil Temple, a Dravidian-style temple established by Indian settlers toward the end of the 1800s.
Saint-Paul’s beach is a quiet strip of volcanic sand. Walk out to the end of the pier for views back across the town and surrounding mountains. Other idyllic beaches with soft white sand and inviting water are just a short drive away. Spend the day soaking up the sun and enjoying watersports at Boucan Canot and St. Gilles-les-Bains.
Located about 25 miles (40 kilometers) from Saint-Denis, Saint-Paul is easy to reach via public buses. Getting around the town center is possible on foot. Public buses also travel to nearby beach resorts. Around town are agencies that organize trips to Réunion’s breathtaking interior. Go canyoning, trekking, and mountain biking in the island’s cirques (natural amphitheaters). Take a helicopter ride over Cirque de Mafate.