Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Reunion Island

This is not very popular, but Reunion Island is part of the European Union, being one of France's fully incorporated overseas departments. It is one of the French Republic’s 26 regions with the same status as those on the European mainland. Because Reunion is in a time zone to the east of Europe, the first ever purchase with the EU’s new currency was made here in 2002 – a 1 euro bag of lichees in Saint-Denis market.

Reunion’s boasts with vulcanological fame is that – like Hawaii – it is located on a hotspot above the earth’s crust. Fournaise is a shield volcano that has erupted more than one hundred times since the 17th century and is still erupting, most recently in 2007. The higher Piton de Neige is an extinct volcano. The island has a great variety of landscapes – volcanic peaks and lava beds, heavily forested slopes, coastal lowlands, rocky shores and a few sandy beaches.

Tourism is an important economic activity and a typically French range of accommodation may be found – hotels, pensions, gites and the occasional resort. Getting around isn’t hard – there is a good public bus service on paved roads, though traffic can jump up at peak times – and Reunionoffers a really excellent and varied range of interesting visitors attractions.

When to go: The very rainy season (December to March) is best avoided. Population: 785,000.How to get there: By air, ideally (for coats reasons) from Paris or Mauritius. By boat from Mauritius

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