Places in Réunion
Welcome to Réunion's Sunshine Coast, or Réunion's Riviera, or the leeward coast. However you label it, say hello to this 45km-long string of seaside resorts and suburbs running from St-Paul to St-Louis. It has a wealth of developed tourist facilities and attractions, including the best of the island's beaches (which is not saying a lot).
Francophiles will feel comfortable in St-Denis (san-de-nee), the capital of Réunion. Except for the palms and flamboyant trees to remind you that you're somewhere sunnier (and hotter), St-Denis could be easily mistaken for a French provincial enclave, with a flurry of trendy shops, brasseries, bistros and boulangeries (bakeries).
No amount of hyperbole could ever communicate the astonishingly guileless beauty of the island's heart and soul. Knitted together like a three-leaf clover, the Cirques of Cilaos, Salazie and Mafate are different in spirit from the rest of the island – more inward-looking, more secretive, more austere. Quintessentially Réunionnais.
If you need to let off steam before (or after) heading off into the Cirques, you've come to the right place. St-Pierre pulses with an energy unknown elsewhere on the island, especially at weekends. Havana it ain't, but this vibrant, feisty, good-natured city knows what really counts in life: having a good time.