"Smiling Sainte-Anne... our eyes rest pleasantly on her coconut and banana trees, their green foliage of delicately varied shades, which depart from pretty little coves of white sand protected from the sea by rocks. "The French frigate captain Cyrille Laplace was certainly seduced by this island where he had just dropped anchor on May 14, 1830. The future admiral, who was circumnavigating the Earth on the orders of the Minister of the Navy, was asked to confirm the geographical position of the Secular Islands, as the maps of the time were often imprecise. Named by the French navigator Nicolas Morphey on Saint Anne's Day 1756, the island offered a reassuring anchorage, away from the reefs and mangroves of the worrying Mahé. Laplace therefore used Sainte-Anne as a base camp, taking observations with a theodolite from the conical summit of the island, then the property of Charles Savy, whose large plantation lived every evening to music. The French officers found their female hosts delightful and if, as Laplace remarked, "their dancing was not as good as in Europe, their desire and lack of pretension made me close my eyes to all other points of comparison that did not work in their favor.
The house and plantation of Savy (the name having endured) were located on the west coast plateau, the same area that had attracted the first French settlers. Because this is where it all began... On August 27th 1770, the ships Duc de Praslin, Comte Saint-Florentin and Télémaque landed the first inhabitants of the Seychelles islands, the first agricultural successes (manioc, rice, corn, coffee, vegetables...) of this colony having led other settlers to extend this settlement on Mahé.
Saint Anne the Pioneer. "Certainly the best place on these islands for a settlement," had remarked the captain of an English vessel who visited the Seychelles to check what the French were doing there. He noted that the French commander Delaunay grew corn, rice, tobacco, coffee, cotton and vegetables there. It was a former soldier of the Compagnie française des Indes, Pierre Hangard, who later took over this prosperous island, where he quickly became rich by selling turtles and other seafood to boats visiting the islands. An illicit traffic that irritated the commander of Mahé, Gillot: "As long as Isle Sainte-Anne remains under the control of this man... it will be used to make secret transactions with all the boats... Hangard and Ouinet go to see them discreetly before they get wet, to spread all sorts of slander about me, because I never give more than sixty land turtles at the most to any boat. "
An agricultural island in its early days, Sainte-Anne also quickly became a strategic island, controlling the entrance to the main port of Mahé. Thus, during the Napoleonic Wars, lookouts on the top of the island sounded the alarm as soon as they saw enemy ships, and on two occasions, the lookouts were in the front line of a battle between a French and an English ship in the arm of the sea between Sainte-Anne and Mahé. In the first decades of the 19th century, the island also provided a protective anchorage for American and English whalers who were hunting sperm whales at the time, Charles Savy having denounced the excesses of certain crews. Two English whalers raided his house and ransacked it, terrifying the women and beating up some of the slaves. Whaling activity around the Seychelles disappeared around 1870, but it experienced a short-lived revival in 1914 when the half-Scottish half-South African company Saint-Ebba established a whaling station on the island. Operating with three ships, mainly off Île Denis and Île aux Vaches (Bird), the company killed 122 large sperm whales and one right whale, producing nearly two thousand barrels of oil in just one year. However, the shipwreck of the ship in October 1915 took the edge off this activity, and the company was placed in liquidation shortly afterwards. With the Second World War, Sainte-Anne experienced a new page in its fertile history. Used by the British Navy to refuel ships, and by the Royal Air Force for its Catalina squadrons (called flying boats because they can land on the water), the Seychelles made the island a storage place for this precious fuel. To protect the entrance to the port, a detachment of the RAF installed guns on its heights in 1942. Which would have prevented a bomber from getting close enough to destroy the Cable & Wireless facilities in Victoria. After the war, the island retained its role as a fuel depot, since the Seychelles Oil Company stored its oil there for a long time in tanks which, not so long ago, shattered the beautiful image of the island when flying over it on the road to Praslin.
A mountainous island which, although it has been mistreated, has nevertheless retained its integrity. Anchored 5 km from Victoria and dominated by Mount Sainte-Anne (250 m), it is the largest of the islands neighbouring the capital, two kilometres long and one kilometre wide.
Be careful, if Saint-Anne became a stronghold of tourism in 2002, its luxurious Beachcomber resort closed in 2017. Finally, there will be room for a luxurious Club Med that should open its doors in 2020. Even if it is still possible to discover the marine park, to put down your suitcases on Sainte-Anne, you'll have to be patient...
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