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Notes on the Geography of Mauritius: Mauritius 1: Port Louis: Photo 2

world pictures Mauritius: Mauritius 1: Port Louis

We've panned inland to see the Champs de Mars, rimmed by the Turf Club's track. Setting it up, in 1812, was one of the first acts of British rule and a great way of making the British acceptable to the French. As its name suggests, the site had previously been a military parade ground.

Before we get up close it's worth mentioning Mahé de La Bourdonnais, the founder of permanent European settlement on the island. At age 19 he had entered the service of the French East India Company. Five years later he arrived in Mauritius, or Isle de France as it was then called. Ten years later, at age 34, he persuaded the Company to establish a naval base here. He was appointed governor and served from 1735 to 1747. He then returned to France and was tossed into the Bastille for two years. He was then found innocent, but his health was wrecked. He lived in poverty for a few more years, then had the decency to die. French rule would continue for another 60 years and under another 20 French governors. For the man who more than any other created Mauritius, the lesson seems to have been that no good deed goes unpunished.

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