A haven for long-distance sailors, the Baie aux Tortues has been known for decades as a safe anchorage for drinking water and fresh food. The toponym refers to the reptiles that reproduced in large numbers before the Dutch navigators landed in the 17th century. From there on, big carnage in the ranks of the mastodons because what could be easier to catch than a turtle? Very practical also on board, this stock of meat at disposal which could be kept fresh and alive for several weeks: a pantry under bell... uh... under shell! According to the logbooks of the captains of the time, the bay was also teeming with fish and oysters, and the place was ideal for catching goats, ducks and other guinea fowl frolicking on the spot in furry and feathery colonies.
In the 18th century, the place became more attractive for other reasons. As early as 1735, Mahé de La Bourdonnais (the first French governor of the Compagnie des Indes) decided to make Port Louis the main port of the island, instead of the lazy, lazy Grand Port in the south-east. Around the 1740s, the arsenal, foundry and gunpowder mill were built, quickly protected by a defence battery. A dyke is built on the Lemon River to supply the workshops with water. Iron production is in full swing, feeding the construction sites of the capital and its port. This thirty years of good and loyal service ended in smoke with the explosion of the powder mill in 1774: all the buildings were immediately razed to the ground, except for the sawmill, the wheat mill and the ironworks.
Around the middle of the 19th century, the Baie aux Tortues, now known for its beautiful property and its endless industries, became the Deauville of the bourgeois families of the capital. A success story interrupted by battalions of mosquitoes whose repeated ravages (malaria) lead the citizens of Port Louis to exile further inland into the healthier lands of the plateau. Cross my heart!
Today, the site, dynamically occupied for centuries, houses the suites and leisure facilities of the Maritim Hotel. The ruins of the dike built by Mahé de La Bourdonnais, as well as those of the old mill and a distillery built in the 19th century, have won the protection of the Historic Monuments and have been given a facelift. For a long time spared from developers, the bay itself, known to demanding divers for its marine park, has literally been "invaded" by tourist infrastructures. However, the place, without really beautiful beaches and full of rocks, was not very suitable for swimming... The industrialists have made it their business, clearing every long piece of sandy ribbon, turning every possible building to turquoise, with results that are not so bad for the hotels on the cove side, a little less fortunate for those on the high seas - whose view, in the distance, of the capital's merchant port and the possible cargo ships waiting to be unloaded, is not always the most romantic. For business trips, on the other hand, a nice stopover: a walk in the emerald at about fifteen minutes from the capital, in high-class establishments perfectly equipped for groups.
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