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Introducing St-Denis

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).

With most of Réunion's tourist attractions located elsewhere on the island, most visitors only stay long enough to book gîtes de montagne (mountain lodges), pick up a few tourist brochures and rent a car before dashing off to more magnetic locations. But St-Denis warrants more than a fleeting glance. Scratch beneath the French polish and you'll soon realise that the city also boasts an undeniably Creole soul, with a portfolio of delightful colonial and religious buildings and a casual multi-ethnic atmosphere.

If that's not enough, there are always epicurean indulgences. Sip a black coffee at a chic pavement cafe listening to a séga or maloya soundtrack or indulge in fine dining at a gourmet restaurant.