15 things to do in La Possession (Réunion, France)

In the north-west of Reunion, La Possession is located between the main port of Le Port and the capital, Saint-Denis. Your attention will turn to the island’s forest trails, where you can walk to the colonial-era quarantine station or head to the massive Mafat Volcano Circus for a grueling expedition.

But what is special about the leeward side of Reunion is that many of the most magnificent landscapes are accessible by road: waterfalls and tropical sandy beaches are just a few minutes drive away, and you can drive to the observation deck to see the mighty Piton des Negues . Meanwhile, a calmer day awaits in Saint-Denis on the north coast, home to many of Reunion’s best historical monuments and museums.

Let’s explore the best activities in La Possession:

1. La Grande Chaloupe

La Grande Chalupe

In an isolated gorge between Las Possession and Saint-Denis is a fascinating site dating back to the 19th century.

Reunion was still a French colony at this time (rather than a legal sector), and although slavery was abolished in 1848, indentured servitude remained long after.

La Grande Chaloupe is a lazaretto, a maritime exclusion zone for indentured persons arriving from the Indian subcontinent.

The dormitory and infirmary still stand, and exhibitions about the site are held, showing artifacts found here and a kilometer upstream from the second Lazareto.

2. Mafia

mafia

A large part of the Mafate Valley lies within the territory of La Possession.

Mafate is a huge extinct volcanic crater belonging to the Piton des Neiges.

In Reunion, it is the target of the most tenacious hikers who embark on an epic quest to see the towering basalt walls of its circus.

Surprisingly, this place has small villages that are almost completely isolated from the rest of the island.

From La Possession, you can start your trek by driving to the village of Dos d’Âne.

3. Chemin Cremont

Camin Cremon

Planned as early as 1730, Chemin Crémont is a walking path connecting the town centre of La Possession with the high village of Saint-Bernard.

This is in the district of La Montagne not far west of Saint-Denis.

This exhilarating trail winds around the edge of a cliff and beckons you through deep ravines like La Grande Chaloupe.

The large basalt cobblestones you will step on were laid in 1775, the same path taken by British invaders when they occupied Reunion during the Napoleonic Wars in 1810.

4. Legang

Legang

Adjacent to La Possession, Le Port is a port city that cannot be compared to any other city in France.

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That’s because in one place there is a ferry port, naval base, container port, fishing port and tourist terminal.

The naval base is the third largest in France and has six ships docked here, and if you want to spot some military machinery, you can stroll down to the marina and see what you can find.

Le Port also has a nice market, Le Marché Sous Piedboi, which trades on Wednesday mornings.

5. Whale watching

whale watching

On Reunion Island’s west coast, you can get up close and personal with whales and other wildlife.

The main season for whale watching is June to October, when humpback whales arrive in these waters after their long journey from Antarctica.

During this time, you can take a cruise to Le Port or follow the coast to one of the many vantage points such as Cap la Houssaye and try to spot them from land.

If you come here outside of humpback whale season, the ocean is home to many species of dolphins, while sperm and fin whales are regular visitors.

6. Rue de Paris, Saint-Denis

Rue de Paris, Saint Denis

The Rue de Paris is the most famous street, not only in the city of Saint-Denis, but in the whole of Reunion.

The town of La Possession is up to a 15-minute drive away and is worth seeing for its palatial colonial mansions and government buildings.

These are a mix of European Neoclassical and Creole styles, with balconies and painted walls.

The most impressive is the west side, including the former bishopric, the old town hall and the Maison Carrère.

Also, visit Villa Déramond-Barre, the birthplace of former French Prime Minister Raymond Barre.

7. Leon Dirks Museum

Leon Dirks Museum

The Rue de Paris should also have the most outstanding cultural institutions in Reunion, and rightly so.

The Musée Léon Dierx, in one of the fabulous colonial mansions that was once the residence of the Bishop of Reunion, houses paintings, graphic art, Printmaking, sculpture, photography and applied arts.

The permanent exhibition is strong by any standard, with works by Picasso, Renoir, Gauguin, Cezanne, Redon, Maurice de Vlaminck and Caillebotte.

These works are juxtaposed with paintings by famous Creole artists such as Antoine Roussin and Adophe Le Roy.

8. Colorado Park

colorado park

Parc du Colorado is a place of relaxation and activity for tourists and citizens of Saint-Denis, located in the district of La Montagne at an altitude of 300 meters.

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This is a family-friendly package that is part of the wild Reunion Highlands landscape; there is a children’s playground, wide meadows, picnic tables and a lookout overlooking Saint-Denis and the sea.

The Parc du Colorado can also be a starting point for your outdoor activities, as horseback riding, hiking and mountain biking trails all start here, as well as a nine-hole golf course with a green fee of just 15 euros.

9. St. Denis Cathedral

Cathedral of Saint Denis

The only cathedral in Reunion is another lovely colonial-style building from the 1800s.

Although the building was completed in 1832, it didn’t take on its present appearance until the 1860s, when a beautiful portico and gables were added.

Around this time the front cast-iron fountain was also installed, which was purchased and delivered here from the Ducel foundry in Tourain, mainland France.

One of the most notorious events in the history of Reunion occurred in May 1946, when the politician Alexis de Villeneuve was in the street a short distance from what is now the Rue Paul Verger ( Rue Paul Vergès) was assassinated a few steps away.

10. Cimetière Marin de Saint-Paul

Cimetière Marin de Saint-Paul

In a very romantic place, the volcanic beach near the black sand is a cemetery dating back to the fact that Reunion was a place of complete lawlessness.

It is the resting place of many pirates, among them Olivier Levasseur, who was hanged in 1730 and whose treasure, Trésor de La Buse, is still being hunted.

The tombs of Levassours are more prestigious, like those of the Parnassian poet Lecomte Delaire.

He was born in Reunion in 1818 and, as he wished, his body returned here after his death on the French mainland.

11. Plage de Boucan-Canot

Plage de Boucan-Canot

The west coast of Reunion Island is the best choice for beaches.

Many of them have pristine white sands rather than the southern volcanic black sands.

As for water, that can be a touchy subject.

Reunion is vulnerable to tiger sharks, but Plage de Boucan-Canot was the first place on the island to have a net and nothing has been reported since.

There is also a small man-made lagoon for swimmers.

Surfers love the rolling waves at Boucan-Canot, and if you prefer comfortable beaches, this is a piece of paradise.

There are palm trees, volcanic cliffs and a range of cold drink bars.

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12. Plage de l’Hermitage

Plage de l'Hermitage

A few hundred meters down the coast is a very different but equally beautiful beach.

Plage de l’Hermitage contrasts with Boucan-Canot in that it is protected from the ocean by the Long Barrier Reef.

This keeps the waves and currents (and predators) out, leaving a large lagoon for you to swim and snorkel.

With temperatures between 22 and 30°C, you’ll see rays, turtles and brightly coloured tropical fish like wilderness icons.

The beach is surrounded by woodlands surrounded by Australian pines and laurels.

13. Le Maïdo

Lemedo

There are easier ways to see Mafate than on strenuous mountain expeditions.

Air tourism in Reunion is booming, with operators flying light planes and helicopters over Mafate.

But if you’re on a budget, you should drive to the observation deck at the top of Le Maïdo.

Leave early to avoid clouds and allow some time on this winding mountain road.

Drive through tamarind groves and geranium plantations, and you’ll climb all the way to a peak of over 2,000 meters.

Pack a picnic and contemplate the stunning views in your own time.

14. Egret Basin

egret basin

Steep rocky landscapes and rich rivers create many waterfalls and cascades on Reunion Island.

Usually you have to work extra hard to find them, but there’s one that’s easily accessible on the road in São Paulo.

Bassin des Aigrettes is a waterfall with hairsprings of water flowing into a clear deep blue pool.

Sadly, you can’t swim in the water due to the risk of falling rocks, but that won’t stop you from sharing some photos with jealous friends on Facebook.

15. Coco House

Coco House

When Reunion was settled in the 17th and 18th centuries, the island quickly gained importance for its fertility.

These volcanic soils support extensive cultivation of sugar cane, vanilla and coffee, as well as spices such as turmeric and various fruits.

On the way to Saint-Leu, there is a 7-hectare coconut plantation.

You will visit in the same way as you visit a winery; visit the farm and you will learn about the unique one-off botany of coconuts.

The fruit has many uses, whether it’s crafts, cosmetics or food made from the husk and leaves.

Finally, you will have the opportunity to taste a range of coconut products, including oil, milk, candied coconut, coconut sugar and coconut sorbet.

Where to stay: The best hotels in La Possession, France
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