Curepipe is, to be honest, not the place I come the most. That is why I was so happy when I completely by chance found this beautiful place just on the outskirts of the city: Le Domaine des Aubineaux. It is completely a trip back in time as you enter this gorgeous colonial house. The house was built in 1872; it has been renovated, but the owners have kept the house as it was – with the furniture, decorations and personal items. The domaine is also know as Maison Gimbeau, name of the owners of the house.
The first room you enter is the room that used to be used to play cards and other board games in. However when Mme Myriam Guimbeau, the last person to have lived in the house, became a widow, she decided to move her bedroom there. The house has a total of 27 rooms, so maybe she felt a bit alone and decided to close some rooms off. She passed away in 1999. The room shows different pieces of furniture in the finest wood: teak, rose wood, ebony or cinnamon.
The next room is the entrée, the curiosity here is the walls. Painted by an Italian artist, they had been covered by wallpaper and only rediscovered during the renovations.
Then you enter the music room: The Philharmonic society of Curepipe used to come to the house and do concerts. There are many family pictures showing this glorious past.
You continue the tour and enter the winter garden. A beautiful room, that is now used as part of the restaurant. This was the room where Madame Gimbeau would receive her guests. The next room is the smoking room where Major Gimbeau would smoke his cigars and read books. There are many items displayed here that would remind him of all his travels.
You go through the pantry and the living room. The kitchen was separate from the main house to minimise the risks of fire and the cave was used as storage room for fresh products to keep them fresher for a longer time, this was before the arrival of the fridge. This house was the first to get electricity on the island in 1881. They got their first television set in 1965.
Related post: If you are enjoying this post, you should check out my post about the Domaine de Labourdonnais – another beautiful house that you can visit in Mauritius and learn about the colonial past of the island.
Many houses got badly damaged when cyclone Carole hit Mauritius in February 1968. It is the worst cyclone people remember, the eye of the cyclone went directly over the island with estimated gushes of wind up to 280km/h. 70’000 houses were destroyed. Even big ones like this one had problems, so just imagine the small houses in metal sheets and small wooden pieces!
During the renovations they incorporated the hallway, very unusual in this type of houses – in away they separated the public and private space in the house. The bell on the picture is the original bell used by the owners to call the servants.
The last rooms of the house are the bedrooms and the bathroom. His room and hers as well as one of the children’s. A little anecdote regarding the size of the beds, which were rather small: they used to sit up sleeping, because they believed that the complete flat position was for the dead only. The bathroom has the original bathtub in marble of Italian design and the stove used to heat the water. I wonder if they ever got to know what soaking in a hot bath meant… or maybe that is an anachronism.
Last but not least, a few more pictures of the house, the servants quarters and views from the house. It is just so lovely. You can also read my post about my lunch at Les Aubineaux, their restaurant and check out pictures from their beautiful garden.
Did you notice the tiles? They are on the terrace, in the winter garden and in the bathroom. They are just gorgeous! I was looking for something similar for our small bungalow in the north but you have to order this from Europe, it takes months for them to arrive, and of course they cost a fortune…
Useful Information about Domaine des Aubineaux
The visit is payable. I forgot to check on the tourist price, but for this type of attraction it is usually around Rs350 (with a guide). The visit might be free if you have lunch (it is for locals) but then you cannot join the guided tour. Rate for locals is Rs175 (or was it Rs170?). The tour is in French or English.
The Domaine is open everyday from 9am to 5pm. Lunch and refreshments are served in their restaurant.
The visit of the house is the first part of the tea route in Mauritius, ‘La Route du Thé’. As part of a package you can visit this house, then the tea plantations of Bois Chéri and St Aubin, one of the local rum distilleries. These other 2 ones are located in the south of the island. You can see the locations on the map below.
All my posts about the history of Mauritius, museums or other cultural visits can be found under the tag Cultural Visits and Museums in Mauritius.
This post was first written in March 2017 – Updated in April 2018.