"THE ROYAL BOTANICAL GARDENS OF PAMPLEMOUSSES"

The Royal Botanical Gardens of Pamplemousses is the highlight of any visit to the north. These  world famous gardens were renamed Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Gardens in 1988 in honour of the late Prime Minister by many locals still refer to them by the former name. Pamplemousses is believed to have taken its name from a citrus plant commonly called the pamplemoucier which was imported by the Dutch from Java. The fruit which grows in the area is thick skinned and bitter and resembles a large grapefruit. The Tamils call it the bambolmas and it is believed that this is the origin of the French word pamplemousse or grapefruit.

Parking is available close to the main entrance gate. The white wrought iron railings and gates won first prize in the International Exhibition in 1862 at Crystal  Palace in London but today are rather worn and rusty. Admission is free.

The garden's origins go back to 1735 when Labourdonnais bought a house in the grounds which he called Mon Plaisir. What began as a humble self sufficient vegetable garden developed into a major fresh food source for ships calling at Port Louis. In 1768, Mon Plaisir became the residence of the French intendent and horticulturist, Pierre Poivre who laid the seeds for its present success as a garden of international acclaim. He introduced plants from all over the world and raised indigenous species, the fruits of which can be admired today. They include 80 palms and about 25 species indigenous to the Mascarene Islands, amongst them stately palms, fruit and spice trees, ebony, mahogony, latania and pandanus and occupy some 60 acres of beautiful landscape. Allow at least 2 hours to visit the gardens. Amongst the most impressive sights is the peaceful pond concealed by the enormous floating leaves of the Giant Amazon water lily.

The flowers open white but fade into a dusky pink by the end of the second day. The collection of palms is extensive, amongst them being Royal Palm, Queen Palm from Brazil, Raffia Palms from Madagascar, Lady Palm from China and the Talipot Palm which dies after flowering when it is between 40 and 60 years old.