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The best way to see the delicious fresh produce (from octopus to okra) that Mauritius offers is to visit one of the island’s many vibrant food markets. There’s a food market in just about every town in Mauritius – from the bustling covered markets in Port Louis, brimming with vegetables, spices, herbs, salted dried fish and fresh meat, to the tiny fisherman’s market every afternoon in Grand Baie on the beach, where the day’s catch is displayed on a couple of trestle tables.

Exploring Mauritius’ food markets gives you insight into this tiny island’s remarkably diverse cuisine.

If you’re self-catering in Mauritius, food markets are where you want to shop for fresh goods – they’re cheaper than the supermarkets and offer a more exciting shopping experience than fluorescent-lit aisles.

Compared to other food markets I’ve visited in Africa, the vendors at Mauritius’ food markets are remarkably friendly and warm – they’re usually happy to pose for a photo (just ask first).

 

Port Louis

Port Louis food market

The famous food markets at Port Louis are at the top of most tourists’ to-do lists when they visit the Mauritian capital. There’s a huge fruit and vegetable market crammed with produce fresh from the fields of the island – still dripping in dew from irrigation. Just outside the fruit and veg section are the meat and fish market sections. These are sadly a lot smaller than they used to be – in recent years butchers and fishermen have started selling to supermarkets instead (note that the meat market is not recommended for squeamish vegetarians). There’s also a food hall that sells the best alouda (a milky pink drink with syrup flavourings) in Mauritius, tamarind juice, black jelly (tastes nicer than it sounds), sandwiches and dhal puris.

When: Daily

Where: Central Port Louis, on Queen and Corderie Streets (park at the waterfront – it’s a mission to find parking right by the market).

Tip: Get there early – before 9am – before it gets super busy.

Rose Hill

Rose Hill food market

The market at Rose Hill, a town fairly close to Port Louis, is small and unassuming, but that’s what I liked about it. There aren’t any tourists, and people are friendly and chatty – very willing to be photographed with their tables of gorgeously red tomatoes or baskets of super-sized patty pans.

When: Daily

Where: In the centre of town

Tip: Go for a dhal puri at Dewa & Sons on Royal Road after your visit to the market. This cheap-as-chips restaurant makes the best dhal puris in Mauritius, according to almost every local you ask.

Flacq

Flacq food market

There isn’t a tourist tout or beach bag in sight at the Flacq market, which I visited one overcast Sunday morning. This is a bustling fruit and veg covered market for locals, with noisy bartering, smells of cabbage and potatoes and occasional whiffs of salted, dried fish.

When: Wednesdays and Sundays

Where: In the centre of Flacq, a town close to Belle Mare on the east coast.

Highlights: Stock up on ready-made mazavaroo on the outskirts of the market to take home for chilli-loving friends.

 

Vacoas

‘An enormous maze of tactile colours at the Vacoas market highlighted everything from patty pans the size of your hand and forearm-length ‘baby’ marrows, to baskets of psychedelic chillis, hedges of herbs and artfully carved pineapples. There were recognisable fruits and vegetables, but then there were also things that could have come off another planet. Chou chou, navet, pipangaye, patol, calbase and zat are some of the names I was told when I pointed quizzically. I recognised the chou chou from the night before and knew it tasted a little like a hubbard squash, only sweeter. Along the perimeter of the market were clothing and basket stalls as well as Indian delights being sold by vendors. Spicy samoosas and chilli bites contrasted with the gelatinous, sweet maize and rice cakes dusted with grated coconut’ says Leigh Stefanski of her visit to the Vacoas market.

When: Tuesdays and Fridays

Where: Vacoas, central Mauritius

 

 

Other Mauritius food markets to try:

Grand Baie fish market

Grand Baie fish market

There’s an informal fish market with the ‘catch of the day’ on the beach in Grand Baie every afternoon from around 4pm.

The market at Mahebourg on Mondays offers an array of colourful fruit and vegetables, and there’s also a smaller daily market.

The Quatre Bournes market (Thursdays and Sundays) sells mostly clothes but the food vendors are excellent.

Goodlands, in the northeast of the island, has a vegetable market on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

 

Mauritius food markets in photos:

Carrots in the Rose Hill market

Carrots in the Rose Hill market

 

Dried shrimps outside Flacq market

Dried shrimps outside Flacq market

 

Salted dried (stinky) fish in the Flacq market

Salted dried (stinky) fish in the Flacq market

 

Vendors in the Flacq market

Friendly vendors in the Flacq market

 

Flacq market

Flacq market

 

Flacq market

Flacq market

 

Flacq market

Flacq market

 

Tiny aubergines at the Flacq market

Tiny aubergines at the Flacq market

 

Mauritius' food markets offer a brightly coloured array of veggies and fruit

Mauritius' food markets offer a brightly coloured array of veggies and fruit

 

Cut fruit with vinegar and chilli at Flacq market

Cut fruit with vinegar and chilli at Flacq market

 

Flacq market

Flacq market

 

Flacq market

Flacq market

 

Pink peanuts outside the Flacq market

Pink peanuts outside the Flacq market

 

Pommes d'amour (tomatoes) in the Port Louis market

Pommes d'amour (tomatoes) in the Port Louis market

 

The bustling fruit and vegetable market in Port Louis

The colourful fruit and vegetable market in Port Louis

 

Pungent herbs in the Port Louis market

Pungent herbs in the Port Louis market

 

Pumpkins the size of baths at the Port Louis market

Pumpkins the size of baths at the Port Louis market

 

Chou chou at the Port Louis market

Chou chou at the Port Louis market

 

Tamarind juice at the Port Louis food market

Tamarind juice at the Port Louis food market

 

Chillies (piments) at the Port Louis market

Chillies (piments) at the Port Louis market

 

Port Louis meat market

Port Louis meat market

 

Chickens in the Port Louis meat market

Chickens in the Port Louis meat market

 

Giant pattypans in the Port Louis market

Giant pattypans in the Port Louis market

 

The pineapple stand at the Port Louis market

The pineapple stand at the Port Louis market

 

Chillies and chilli paste at the Port Louis Market

Chillies and chilli paste at the Port Louis Market

 

Coconuts and limes at the Rose Hill food market

Coconuts and limes at the Rose Hill food market

 

'Soup packages' at the Rose Hill market

'Soup packages' at the Rose Hill market

 

Pommes d'amour (tomatoes) at the Port Louis market

Pommes d'amour (tomatoes) at the Port Louis market



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