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The Market of Port-Louis

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It is said that one can only totally immerse oneself in the spirit of a country by strolling through its markets. The market of Port-Louis is the ideal place to dive into Mauritian culture, simply by being in contact with Mauritians themselves, in their everyday life routine. This is where they go every day to buy fruit, vegetables, spices, handicrafts, clothing, meat, fish or herbal teas and order delicious, inexpensive local street food. All day long the dholl puri (local roti made of dhal), the Indian rotis and fritters are served along with a glass of alouda: a sweet and coloured drink made from milk, syrup, and some lemon juice.

The market of Port-Louis, commonly called bazaar in Mauritius, was built in 1828. It is nestled between the Farquhar and Queen Streets. It survived many fires, rising every time from the ashes like the Phoenix. Last May, the city council of Port-Louis decided it was time to renovate the wing where meat (chicken, fish, pork and beef) is normally sold. The renovation project will cost Rs 24.5 million. In 2003, the renovation of the vegetable market had cost roughly Rs 120 million.

The market traders bragging about the freshness of their vegetables or the competitive price they have set act as a link between the paved aisles and the stalls. You will find all kinds of advertised local products such as: onions, pommes d’amour (smaller tomatoes), chayotes, calabashes, egg plants, giraumons (type of pumpkin), okra, bitter gourds, carrots, squash, luffa, fresh turmeric roots, brede, chilli, bananas, grapes, pineapple, mangoes, lychees, multicoloured passion fruit, papayas, lime, coconuts and much more.

This is the place where a different type of multicultural blending creates a unique fragrance that titillates our senses; spices, Indian incense and fritters. In the wing sheltering the meat and fish merchants, a completely different smell rises; it is as raw as the flesh waiting to be bought, that is prepared for cooking to delight the taste buds.

The other main attraction of this bazaar is the purchase of lottery tickets. The most visited kiosk is Coronation. Every Mauritian dreams of one day winning the national lottery by purchasing a ‘green lottery ticket’. The national lottery has been in competition with Loto (a privatised lottery entity) since October 2009.