Introducing Plaine-des-Cafres & Around
Velvet-green hills and pastures undulating off into the horizon. Fresh air. Mist. Filled with iconic pastoral landscapes, the Plaine-des-Cafres area bears an unexpected likeness to Bavaria. It is cool, relaxing and oxygenated. Chalk that up to altitude and attitude. It sits 1200m above sea level and is regularly massaged by cool breezes. Once a refuge for runaway slaves from the coast, the Plaine-des-Cafres is a vast, gently rolling area that spreads between the Cirques and Piton de la Fournaise.
As you make the approach from the south (St-Pierre), the Plaine-des-Cafres begins shortly after the sprawling, nondescript town of Le Tampon and ends at Col de Bellevue, at the top of the winding road that plunges down to Plaine-des-Palmistes. North of Le Tampon on RN3 (the cross-island road) are numerous small settlements that are named for their distance from the sea – Le Vingt-Quatrième (24th), for example, is 24km from the ocean.
The most interesting place on the Plaine-des-Cafres from a visitor's perspective is Bourg-Murat, which is the obvious launch pad for the volcano. It's in this rural settlement where the Route Forestière du Volcan turns off to Piton de la Fournaise. The town and the surrounding area have a wealth of accommodation and dining choices, making it a handy base.