The town is located in the south-east of the island, in the beautiful bay of Grand Port. 45 km of highway separate it from the capital Port Louis. Mahébourg (the village of Mahé de La Bourdonnais) lacks neither charm nor cachet. It was built in 1806 by Captain General Decaen, the last French governor of the island appointed by Bonaparte. Decaen designed it according to the town planning rules in use at the time: a network of streets with a network of corduroy streets and, between them, half an acre of land for the dwellings. Four years after the creation of the city, the bloody naval battle of Vieux Grand Port took place, pitting the French against the English, and shortly afterwards sounded the end of French colonisation of Mauritius. The inhabitants of Mahébourg played an important role in saving the survivors, caring for the wounded or burying the dead.
Under the English occupation, the development of the city accelerated: a hospital and barracks were built, and the transport of goods and passengers by boat multiplied between the south-east of the island and Port Louis. On October 10, 1836, a customs office was established. Mahébourg became a port of entry and exit for products imported from the United Kingdom and its colonies, as well as for goods exported to these destinations. The fisheries became more active, and one of them even employed up to 200 people.
Much later, in 1942, the construction of Piacenza Airport, which began civilian operations just after the Second World War, gave the town and its region a new lease of life. After independence, growth intensified with the construction of the Phoenix-Mahébourg motorway in 1988, followed by the gradual development of the waterfront from 2003 - construction of a jetty and a pleasant 700-metre long esplanade.
The object of future development plans of fairly large scale, Mahébourg nevertheless retains its soul and local character, and is rightly considered one of the most authentic cities in Mauritius. The strolls in the streets of the centre or in the maze of the big Monday market allow you to take the tempo of a sector that has remained very Mauritian and still offers parts of ancient architecture (very beautiful huts) as scenes of unchanged life. Inside the colourful wooden shops of the past there is always an unbelievable jumble of objects from the past and the present. At the back of a shop, an old dressmaker is making a costume while, in the main street, the bicycle repairman is still working in his unlikely workshop full of machines and tools that have lost their patina over time... We can't say that the city is beautiful at first glance, but it knows how to reveal its charms to the traveller in a hurry...
Geographically speaking, Mahébourg benefits from a pleasant opening onto a string of interesting islets: Ile aux Aigrettes, a protected stretch of land sheltering a reserve of birds and endemic plants, Ile de la Passe, known for having been the scene of the naval battle won by the French against the English in 1810, Ile aux Fouquets, Ile Vacoas and Ile au Phare.
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