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Introducing Petite Terre

The island of Petite Terre, with two villages named Pamandzi and L’Abattoir, is connected to the rock of Dzaoudzi (a sort of poor man’s version of the Rock of Gibraltar) by a causeway. Until the arrival of the foreign legion in 1962, it served as the capital of Mayotte, and still functions as its military centre. Two small islands comprise Petite Terre, which, being considerably quieter and cleaner than Mamoudzou, has become the affluent high-rent district of Mayotte. It’s here that most of the European community lives.

The village of Pamandzi has a pretty, tranquil beach known as Moya Plage, and a volcanic crater called Dziani Dzaha, but there’s very little of interest on Dzaoudzi beyond a few handsome colonial buildings and a single hotel.

Near the coast on the western side of Pamandzi is the archaeological site of Bagamayo. Researchers working at the site have uncovered pottery, tombs and glass beads indicating a 10th-century Shirazi settlement.

For sleeping try Petite Terre’s most upmarket option, Le Rocher (60 10 10; lerocher@wanadoo.fr; Blvd des Crabes, Dzaoudzi; r from €65; ). Expect lots of gilt, fake Grecian statues and potted palms, but the cheesy décor is actually quite fun and the prices reasonable for Mayotte. Rooms are a bit worn but still comfortable. Some have balconies and views of the lagoon, while others come with full-sized bathtubs. There’s a pricey onsite restaurant and a disco called Ningha (Mon-Sat), which charges €15 entry for men (free for women).

Villa Raha (62 03 64; 13 Rue Smiam, Pamandzi; r from €30) is the best budget option. The rooms are scruffy but acceptable overall and the location is nice and quiet. Some of the rooms share a little sitting area. Dinner (€10) can be arranged.

For typical French cuisine including frogs legs and crab specialities, try Auberge de l’Île (60 14 57; Rte de Moya, L’Abattoir; mains €20), which has a rotating nightly menu.

For more of a bar atmosphere on the beach, try Le Faré (60 13 31; Blvd des Crabes, L’Abattoir; mains from €10; dinner Tue, lunch & dinner Wed-Sun), which has a limited menu – usually a daily dish. It also has a pool table, however, and fills quickly on weekends.

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