Serving as the capital of Réunion, Saint-Denis is a breezy seaside settlement on the north coast of the island. It’s clustered with graceful 19th-century mansions, several of which have been transformed into museums showcasing the island’s cultural heritage and modern art. In recent years, Saint-Denis has garnered a reputation for its street art and for dishing up enticing Creole-style cuisine.
Things to do in Saint-Denis
Spend an afternoon strolling Rue de Paris to see its elegant colonial mansions that date back to the 19th century. Of particular note is the Maison Carrère, a Creole house museum decorated with period furnishings and antiques. Its exhibits tell the story of significant figures in the history of Saint-Denis and it regularly hosts cultural events that highlight Creole traditions.
Also on Rue de Paris is Musée Léon Dierx, a former bishop’s palace that houses the island’s most important collection of modern art. Among its highlights are paintings by Pablo Picasso and Paul Gauguin, as well as ceramics by Hervé Rousseau and several works by the Réunionnais painter Léon Dierx.
Saint-Denis is renowned for its public art installations and wall murals, many of which decorate the entire length of buildings. A highlight is the bronze sculpture dedicated to Gereon and Jasmin created by Henri Maillot. It honours two slaves who were beheaded at the site in 1812 for revolting against the oppressive system of slavery on the island.
Getting around Saint-Denis
Roland Garros Airport is a 15-minute drive from the centre of Saint-Denis and has flights to destinations across the globe. Buses are the main means of getting around Réunion and the city of Saint-Denis, although the centre is compact enough to explore on foot.