Boucan-Canot, L'Ermitage, Saint-Gilles-les-Bains and les-Hauts... The municipal territory of Saint-Paul, just a little larger than that of Marseille, includes all these seaside towns, as well as many villages in the Hauts and part of the Mafate circus.
Second most populated commune of the island, the majority of the population resides either in the Hauts de l'immense communal territory or in the Beaches area. Worlds apart, but which are now easily connected: you can now fly in a few seconds to the Hauts via the Tamarins road, and you can easily reach the Beaches region via Cap La Houssaye, free from traffic jams.
Residential and commercial, the old Saint-Paul is pleasant to visit, especially on fairground market days, an unmissable visit of the island on Friday all day and Saturday morning. The cradle of the settlement, Saint-Paul has some beautiful basalt stone monuments, such as the town hall, the Lacay Hotel and some beautiful Creole buildings, such as the Villa Rivière or the Villa Verguin. Only the town hall built in 1732 to replace the large wooden store that burned down in a fire remains from the time of the Compagnie des Indes.
Although swimming is forbidden in the bay of Saint-Paul, one nevertheless appreciates its immense beach, its football matches and its traditional fishing parties which contribute to preserve the Creole charm of this indolent city.
Historical parenthesis. Between Pointe des Aigrettes and Cap de La Houssaye, on 29 June 1642, the first people arrived on this deserted island, naming the bay and the site after the saint of the day. The official taking of the island by the King of France took place a few kilometres away, at La Possession.
It was not until 1663 that the first attempt to settle on the island was made: two Frenchmen from Madagascar and ten Malagasy. They're settling near the cave. In 1665, Etienne Régnault, the first governor of Bourbon, and twenty other settlers settled near the Vital Basin and created the Old Saint-Paul district. The commune remained the capital of the island until 1738. Commune in 1790, Saint-Paul retained the judicial functions of the island until 1833, before giving way to Saint-Denis.
It is the cultivation of coffee whose plants were imported from Moka that allowed the city to develop in the 18th century. In the 19th century, the exploitation of sugar cane structured the territory around the sugar factories and formed new districts: Grand Fond, Vue-Belle, Savannah... But the delivery of the port at Pointe des Galets in 1886 led to the departure of the navies from Saint-Paul and the disappearance of its commercial and maritime activity.
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