Always very busy and colourful, the market of Port Louis, or the bazar as it is also known, is at all times a feast for the senses. The market of Port Louis is the oldest on the island.
It is split in to 3 main areas: fruits and vegetables on one side of the central alley and the craft market as well as spices on the other. Across the road you find the meat sections.
A historical and cultural visit
The central marked moved to its current location in 1828 and the oldest building you will see here is from 1833. To pay a visit to the market is meeting with the Mauritians in their every day life. If you are coming to Port Louis for a day you, a stop at the bazar is a must.
The fruit and vegetable sections is such a vibrant sight! Mauritius is a tropical island but we do have 4 seasons – at least kind of. The market is very seasonal and currently in winter time you will find more local vegetables than tropical fruit – mangoes, papayas and pineapples are for the summer months.
Mauritian street food: this is a good place to start!
Next to the vegetable sections you will find a small food court where you can try alouda: A cool milky drink with basil seeds, rose water and some other yummy stuff. You can either get a cup and drink on the spot or do as we do and bring a small plastic bottle and get it filled up! – you know: germs and stuff. Have a look at the recipe of a fellow Mauritian blogger: Peachy Tales, to know more about this typical Mauritian drink. You also have many other food stalls here and around the bazar: doll puri, roti, farata, gateau piment, samosas or local sorbet, just to name a few – the food stalls will take you around the world: Chinese, African or Indians specialities – and always with the famous Mauritian twist.
The spices and the craft market is a happy messy area where you can find the expertise of local craftsmen: baskets, sculptures, jewellery or music instruments. Hindi colourful stores are some of my favourites to look at. The spices, the Chinese medicinal herbs or the dry salted fish give this place a particular and a bit strange odour.
A little tip to buy vanilla: do not get it too humid – some not so honest sellers are known to put them in water so the beans look larger – however the vanilla bean looses taste and rot very quickly. A good vanilla bean is a little on the drier side. Also be aware not everything here is made in Mauritius and you will need to negociate prices. So have a good look around before starting to buy!
The last section of the central market is one that rumours say is going to disappear in its current form because of health and safety issues: the meat market – stalls proposing beef, goat, chicken or fish can be found here! This part can be a bit smelly even during winter days when it is not so humid… but it is still fun to visit!
More than just a commercial area, the central market of Port Louis is a historic place and it symbolises all the diversity that you can find on the island.
The best visiting time depends a bit of the feeling you want of the area: if you are after a quieter and cooler experience, go in the morning around 9-10ish. However, if you want to see the place buzzing then Saturday after 11am is the moment to go – full of people and the market extends in the streets around the bazar.
If you are interested in markets, you’ll like my post about the fish market in Grand Baie.
The bazar is located in the centre of Port Louis, a few minutes from the waterfront, Le Caudan, where you have the Blue Penny Museum or Aapravasi Ghat (one of the Unesco Word Heritage Centre in Mauritius).
Opening times: 5:30am to 6pm (except sunday where it’s half day only).