The village of Belle Mare was only a short walk from our hotel. You can walk On the beach of by way of a tree clad avenue between the beach and the road. Having walked the beach on a few occasions we decided one late afternoon to wander through the trees and check out the village.
It was a Saturday and groups of Mauritians were setting up camp under the shady boughs of the casuarina trees that run for five miles along this part of the eastern coast. Apparently it has become a bit of a habit for Mauritians to visit this region over a weekend. They set up tents, portable barbecues and basically enjoy each other's company over the weekend. It looked to us that small entertainment sections were being set up and a family group were clustered round a T.V, whilst groups of single men were seen haunting tree branches along the walkway to their camp.
As we approached the village the dominant building was the Hindu temple, open to the public but not as exciting to look at as the Tamil Hindu temples that we'd seen earlier in the week. We took a photo or two with the sun setting over the mountains and then continues our walk into Belle Mare. We hadn't got far before voices of shopkeepers invited us to check out their shops. We resisted temptation although made a quick circuit of a shop that seemed to sell everything from spirits, tobacco, pharmaceutical products, model ship, souvenirs, and designer clothes
There are surprisingly a couple of large factory shops in the vIllage selling branded products. One sells Hugo Boss and another Ralph Lauren. My wife thought we should check t.hese out and headed for the latter. These are clearly quality shops at the top end of the branded goods market but I was naively expecting there to be bargains inside. Needless to say they weren't the kind of prices I wanted to pay although my wife assured me that £50 for a branded polo shirt and £60 for a casual shirt were good deals. "They may be" I mutter to no one in particular, "but not for me".
A shop assistant was soon following us round the store pointing out things that would be good deals and told be that we could claim a further 15% back at the airport. "Not for me" I chuntered as I headed towards the door and despite a noble attempt by a shop assistant to create a diversion and sidetrack me back towards the merchandise I secured an exit. I'm that there are bargains to be had if you are a wearer of designer clothes but you'll have to know your product price and cast aside your desire to barter. It seems that in the shops selling originals ( rather than the " quality fakes" that you find elsewhere on the island) there is no negotiation on prices. Indeed we were told later that the clothes in these brand shops was not manufactured on the island but shipped in to stock the designer shops. I guess their trade merits this! But "not for me" you can hear me say!
Finding nothing else of merit in the village we head off back to our hotel. The numbers of tents erected since we first passed by has significantly increased and the dedicated free car parks are filling up nicely with private cars and larger vans. We notice that one of the car park states that it's for buses only so we can only surmise that. Mauritians are bused in to the area for the weekend camping. People are real friendly as we pass by and I consider checking out what happens after darkness descends. I'm presuming that a party atmosphere prevails and indeed it did!
We notice as we walk through the trees that there are remnants of an old walk / road way and are reminded that there were lime kilns and sugar cane factories in this area in the past. Indeed there is roadside evidence of both along this coastline with old kilns and factory chimneys.
Belle Mare isn't the prettiest of villages but the walk and the activities of the locals was worth the effort, especially on a weekend when the "Townies" Visit the area.