Réunion Island – A French Gem In The Indian Ocean

On July 5, 2013 by Tim Newman

Reunion Island - French Paradise - Amazing Scenery 2

Something that always gives me great pleasure is getting visits on my site from countries I’ve never heard of, and recently I got a visit from Réunion Island. I’d not come across Réunion so I had a look at it. And it looks amazing.

Reunion Island - French Paradise - Amazing Scenery

Réunion is a Tropical French Island off the right hand-side of Madagascar, in the Indian Ocean. Southwest of Mauritius. It’s got a population of about 840,000 and as a department of France it is the furthest flung speck of the Eurozone. It’s just 40 miles by 30 miles in size.

Often described as a mini French Hawaii their official language is French, but informally many speak Réunion Creole.

Reunion Island - French - Position Map

The Portugese first clapped eyes on the uninhabited dot of land in the early 1500’s and the French took it over in 1642. It was named Réunion to commemorate the union of revolutionaries from Marseille with the National Guard in Paris which took place in August 1792.

The island was briefly renamed Bonaparte in honour of the little French tyrant, but it reverted back after he stopped being so popular.

Reunion Island - French Paradise - Waterfall From Air

In 2005 and 2006 the island was hit by an epidemic of chikungunya disease (a bit like  dengue fever apparently) which is spread by mosquitos. France sent over 36 million euros and hundreds of troops to try and eradicate the mozzies. I don’t know what the troops did to try and kill the tiny winged harbingers of death. Maybe they just fired into the sky at random? Anyway, about a third of the island suffered in the plague.

Reunion Island Flag

The Piton de la Fournaise volcano dominates the eastern end of the island and it’s no sleeping giant either. It’s one of the most active volcanoes in the world and has erupted at least 100 times sincce 1640, most recently in 2010.

Reunion Island - French Paradise - Pyroclastic Flow Volcano

The island is a record breaker as far as rain goes, although it’s tropical and beautifully warm from November to April, it also likes a good old-fashioned rain.

Between the 7th and 8th of January 1966, Cilaos at the centre of Réunion got nearly 2 metres of rain! Which is the record amount of precipitation in one day in the whole wet world. Another part of the island holds the record for the most rain over a 72 hour period – more than 3 metres. Now that’s a deluge.

Reunion Island - French Paradise - Bridge Construction

40% of the island is a UNESCO world heritage site and there are no huge tourist complexes (yet). The biggest land animal they have on Réunion is the  Panther chameleon who looks very handsome indeed:

Reunion Island - French Paradise - Panther Chameleon

People of European, African, Malagasy, Indian and Chinese origin have all made their home there so the culture is an original mish-mash of all types of fashions and cuisines.

Who’s up for a jolly?

Reunion Island - French Paradise - Cilaos

The official Reunion tourist board hit the nail on the head, here’s a quote from their site:

From moon looking volcanoes to clear blue lagoons, this tropical French Island offers the traveller a unique concentrate of emotions.

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