Reunion

Réunion is an island and overseas department of France, located in the Indian Ocean 760 km (407 miles) due east of Madagascar, and about 200 km southwest of Mauritius, the nearest island. Like the other overseas departments, Réunion is also one of the twenty-six regions of France (being an overseas region) and an integral part of the Republic with the same status as those situated on the European mainland. As part of France, Réunion is part of the European Union.

Running diagonally across the island is a chain of volcanic peaks, separating a green humid eastern zone (Le Vent) from a dry, sheltered south and west (Sous le Vent). Saint-Denis, the capital, has several places of interest including the Natural History Museum, a mosque, several temples and a cathedral. A good trip to take is along the Plaine d'Affouches in La Montagne which is lined by lush tamarind trees and calumets, a type of wild fig tree.

A special feature on Réunion are the so-called cirques - large volcanic valleys surrounded by mountains, creating a natural amphitheatre of about 10 km (6 miles) in diameter. The most beautiful cirque is probably Salazie, with its magnificent waterfalls, especially those known as Le Voile de la Mariée (The Bride's Veil) near Hell-Bourg.

Réunion cuisine features many different unique curries - these include duck, eel and octopus curry (zourite). Also worth trying is bredes, a delicious local vegetable, rather like spinach.

Map of Reunion