This market is over 200 years old. It is one of the few places in Mauritius where you can find almost everything in one place. Clothing, decorative items, souvenirs, food, vegetables, fruits, newspapers… everything. Located at Farquhar Street in the capital, the Port Louis market was built during the French occupation. To visit the market is to meet Mauritians in their everyday life. If you come to Port Louis for a day, a stop at the bazaar is a must.
In a building two storeys high, it is a bazaar ordered in its centre. Once past the stalls, you enter the jungle of fruit and vegetable stalls. But also a mixture of colours: from the glossy red of the tomato to the tender green of the pipengaille and the lalo (okra) and the bronze of the cinnamon sticks… At one of the entrances, the herbalist has his photo taken in the middle of his magical remedies and for years he has been marking his presence in the souvenir albums of his miracle infusions to remedy all illnesses, even those that are taboo!
Well known throughout the island, the Port Louis bazaar welcomes up to 30,000 people every day, from dawn to dusk. Mauritius is a tropical island and the market is seasonal. In winter you will find more local vegetables than tropical fruits. Mangoes, papayas and pineapples are for the summer months.
Although it is a tourist attraction, the market remains a must-see place in the capital, even for Mauritians! It is a must-see if you take your time. Around the bazaar, the streets are teeming with street vendors, especially the Rue de la Corderie, which is full of fabric shops.
Next to the vegetable sections you will find a small food court where you can try the alouda. A cool milky drink with basil seeds, rose water and a scoop of ice: so refreshing in the Port Louis heat. You can either pick up a cup and drink on the spot, or bring a small bottle and fill it up! You will also find many other food stalls here and around the bazaar: dholl puri, roti, farata, chilli cake, samousas or local sorbet, to name a few. The food stalls will take you around the world: Chinese, African or Indian specialities.
The spice and handicraft market is a lively space where you can find beautiful works by local craftsmen. Baskets, sculptures, jewellery or musical instruments among others. Spices, Chinese medicinal herbs or dry salted fish give this place a special and somewhat strange smell.
The last section of the central market is the meat market. Stalls offering beef, goat, chicken or fish! For the squeamish, this part may not be suitable for you, due to the products on display, but also due to the mix of smells. But it is still a nice place to visit, and you will probably find your next meal here!
The best time to visit is up to you: if you're after a quieter, cooler experience, go in the morning around 9am. However, if you want to see the place buzzing, then Saturday after 11am is the time to go. There are plenty of people, and the market spills out into the streets around the bazaar.
The bazaar is located in the centre of Port Louis, a few minutes from the Caudan Waterfront. Here you can also shop in a more modern setting. Also in Caudan, you can visit the Blue Penny Museum. The Aapravasi Ghat, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the Central Post Office Museum are also within walking distance of Caudan.