The setting couldn't be more grandiose. Think snaggle-toothed volcanic peaks, deep ravines and forests that are straight out of a Brothers Grimm fairy tale. At times, swirling banks of cloud add a touch of the bizarre. A sweet sprinkling of secluded hamlets top off this area's indisputable allure. For outdoorsy types, the Cirque de Cilaos is hard to beat.
To get here, clunk in your seatbelt and take a deep breath: the RN5, which connects St-Louis with Cilaos, 37km to the north, is Réunion's premier drive (and that is saying a lot). Snaking steeply around more than 400 twists and turns along the way up into the amphitheatre, it provides an endless stream of stunning vista-points. Bon voyage!