The French adapted their building style to the wet, hot tropics, creating a distinctive colonial style. Homes were traditionally built out of hardwood, with rain-resistant shingles made from tamarind wood hung on a vaulted roof with windows to help cool the air and combat dampness. Walls were whitewashed with local lime – created by burning coral over wood in the lime kilns which can still be seen scattered on the east coast – and roofs, windows and doors were decorated with lacy wooden or metal fringes, known as lambrequins. A wide, long verangue (veranda) often surrounded the house, with raffia blinds to filter the harsh rays of the sun. To protect against cyclones, houses had doors instead of windows, with small panes to strengthen them, and typically no corridors so the breeze could circulate through the rooms.

This style eventually became the blueprint for simple local homes, and although many were destroyed by Cyclone Carol in the 1960s, some can still be seen, predominantly in Mahébourg, and Rodrigues. The houses are now preserved by a National Heritage Fund set up in 2003 and a few surviving eighteenth- and nineteenth-century plantation mansions have been converted into museums and restaurants and are open to the public. These include Eureka, Château Labourdonnais, Domaine des Aubineaux, Le Saint Aubin and Demeure de Saint Antoine.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Mauritius features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Ten perfect birdwatching trips

Ten perfect birdwatching trips

Few travel moments illicit such a thrill as catching sight of a rare or beautiful bird emerging from its natural habitat. Here are a few of our favourite birdwa…

29 Apr 2013 • Site Editor insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook