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In the shade of centuries-old orchards, the “Château de Labourdonnais”, built between 1856 and 1859 by Christian Wiehe and beautifully restored between 2006 and 2010, traces the footsteps of a family who lived in a bygone era. This privately owned estate known as “Domaine de Labourdonnais” was founded in 1774 and encompasses a magnificent 5540 hectares of land bordered by lush sugar cane fields in the north of the island, just 20 minutes from the capital Port Louis. The grand mansion is a monument of history and since its conversion into a museum, invites visitors to discover the nineteenth century Mauritian lifestyle.

Over time the estate has diversified and has since some 50 years ago increased its agricultural activity to produce a range of tropical fruits and vegetables. The orchards date back to 1975 and encompass an area of 45 hectares that yields up to 500 tonnes of fruit annually, including: passion fruits; guavas; papayas; citrus fruits; and mangoes. These fruits are sold at their grocery shop “La Corbeille”, to local customers, supermarkets and their transformation factory “Les Vergers de Labourdonnais” that produces a variety of jams, juices and fruit candies/pastes. There is also a nursery that offers a large variety of fruit trees and decorative plants for sale.

The estate is also the site of a Vanilla plantation that occupies an area of two hectares, and was established in 2000. They produce approximately 200 kilos of dried pods annually. Labourdonnais also includes a rum distillery that offers a full range of rums from classic white rums to gold and spiced varieties. They also specialise in agricultural rum which is made from the first press of sugar cane juice. A rum tasting is included in the ticket price for a visit to the mansion and grounds.

Visitors to the estate can also enjoy a light meal or snack at the “La Terrasse” café that offers a lovely selection of traditional Mauritian and international dishes in a charming setting for breakfast, lunch or afternoon tea. An alternative method of touring the grounds is by the Labourdonnais Express, a small train that offers an entertaining 45 minute tour of the estate’s gardens, orchards and vanilla greenhouse, and ends with a delicious tasting of fruit pastes and juices!