This is the engrossing story of Mauritius—known as Isle de France to the French in the 18th century—the exotic Indian Ocean island port of call at the heart of the fabled “Spice Route”. Recounted by an assortment of historical characters whose lives were closely intertwined with this former French colony, this book is an invitation to travel back in time to its rich and checkered history. Although first discovered and visited by the Arabs and the Portuguese, and subsequently colonised by the Dutch, the French and the English, it is the French influence that is most keenly felt in Mauritius today, thanks to France’s nearly century-long rule over Mauritius from 1715 to 1810.
Interspersed with rare archival documents are fascinating stories of well-known French figures of this period, like the founder of the colony Governor Mahé de La Bourdonnais, the explorer and botanist Pierre Poivre, and the celebrated explorer Jean-François de Lapérouse, among others, all researched and written by Denis Piat and complemented by rich illustrations. This book is the updated English-language version of the original French edition of Sur la Route des Epices: L’Ile Maurice, first published in 1994.
Denis Piat was born in Mauritius in 1943. He began his career in air transport, travel and tourism in 1963. After launching two companies in this industry on behalf of Mauritian business groups, he was recruited in 1978 as the Director of Kenya Airways in France, where he was in charge of its Paris office until 1998. Piat has been interested in the history of his native island since he was a young boy. During his time in Mauritius, he started a collection of old and rare books on Mauritius. After moving to Paris, he continued to enrich his collection, extending his research to antiquarian lithoprints, etchings and maps. Eager to share his passion, Piat assembled the materials into a book, Sur la Route des Epices: I’lle Maurice, which was published in 1994.
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