Reunion is a beautiful name for an island, and it is indeed the name of an island that in this case is an overseas region of France. As such it uses the euro, in common with France itself. You can find out more about both the island and the currency it uses here.
No doubt you already know a little about the euro. For example you may know it is divided into 100 cents. You may also know what some of the coins and banknote values are. For example there are six coins in cents which are the one, two, five and 10, 20 and 50 cent coins. There are two euro coins as well – the one euro and two euro coins.
Banknotes are issued in 10, 20, 50 and 100 euro notes, although there are a couple of larger ones that are not often seen as they can be prone to forgery.
Since Reunion is essentially a part of France, you may expect it to use the same currency as its parent country. And this is indeed the case, as it has used the euro since it came into being in 1999. Before this the currency used on the island was the French franc.
However there was a time when Reunion had its own currency – its own version of the franc. This was the Reunion franc, which you would have used if you had visited the island before 1975, when the change to the French franc was made.
The euro is one of the simplest currencies to get hold of. If you wish to get some before you leave for the island you can do this by visiting any bureaux de change you wish to see. Look out for different rates at each one though – shopping around does have its advantages and that holds true here just as it does in every other area of life.
The one thing you may not want to bother with at the bureau de change when you visit is traveller’s cheques. These are not usually welcome on the island. You can however make payment by credit or debit card, providing it has the Visa symbol on it. MasterCard is not as popular there so you might want to leave that card at home. Of course you also have the option to use cash machines to retrieve any money you want from there.
You can get a rough idea how much you might get in euros when you exchange your own currency by using a currency converter. These are easily – and freely – available online. By using one you’ll get a starting rate to go on, although it won’t take into account any fees that would be attached to an exchange made via a bureau de change.
As always it is a good idea to check out the latest situation on the island before you plan to visit. The best way to do this is by visiting the government website in the UK at https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/reunion. This section has all the information you need on visiting the island and what to expect there.
Crime is pretty low on the island which is pleasing for tourists who are intending to travel there. However with that said it is still wise to take some basic precautions when you go out and explore. For example don’t carry excessive amounts of cash with you; instead try and book into some accommodation that has its own secure private room safe. Your passport can be stored there as well.
The basic thing to remember is simply to take the same precautions you would normally do at home. By doing so you can make sure you don’t leave your belongings where someone might grab them and you can be sure your cash is safe.
Here we are then – it’s time to find out more about Reunion itself. The island is located in the Indian Ocean, with Madagascar to the west. As such it is a long way from France!
The capital of the island is Saint-Denis. You will notice many of the names here are in French, as you would expect. This is a glorious city – or prefecture as it is known – and it is located to the north of the island. As such it has an ocean view, providing you with the best of all worlds if you want a cityscape to explore as well as a nice seafront to appreciate. Indeed, this might be the best place to start, or at least a nice place to retire to if you become too overwhelmed with the busy nature of the city.
The seafront is known as Le Barachois. One of the most significant sights here is that of the guns – great cannons sitting lined up along the front, facing out to sea. The park area provides a nice opportunity for people to get some fresh air and to take in the view out to sea.
Another charming area to visit is the Jardin de l’Etat. This was once known as the Jardin du Roy, and if your French is up to scratch you will have deduced this is a garden. It is open to the public and it is truly stunning. It is a botanical garden and boasts an impressively-long and large waterway with a fountain in the middle and palm trees swaying lazily along one way. You can wander along for hours here, exploring the garden and finding a bench here or there to sit down on and appreciate life as it goes by.
Reunion is also well-known for its volcanoes. Indeed, the Piton de la Fournaise volcano erupted in February this year (2015) so you can see there is a chance of an eruption from one of the volcanoes on the island. There is also Piton des Neiges, which also happens to be the island’s high point. Even if you don’t fancy tackling the 3,070 metres you’ll have to climb to reach the top, you can still enjoy some wonderful walking and hiking trails in the area. If you’re wondering how safe it is to walk up the volcano or indeed be anywhere near it, you should be okay. This one last erupted some 20,000 or so years ago – unlike its arguably more famous brother nearby!
As you might imagine of an island with volcanoes and plenty of appealing natural scenery, it is very popular among those who love a more active holiday. You can tackle mountain biking on the island, although it is advisable to be at least a little experienced before you tackle some of the trails provided. The good news is the trails are marked and it is quite easy to follow them. However some are more challenging than others so make sure you choose your route wisely.
Another sport you might like to indulge in is surfboarding, and if you love this particular sport you will want to head for St Leu. Reunion may not be well-known for its beaches but if you do fancy that type of holiday this is possibly one of the best spots on the entire island for delivering the beach holiday appeal.
If you want to discover the true nature of the island, head for one of the natural amphitheatres. One of the best ones is Cirque de Mafate. It’s worth heading for because you have to walk there – you can’t hire a taxi or a car. The only other way in is by helicopter. Hikers who want the true unspoiled experience of walking without having to watch out for cars or other vehicles will love it.
Despite the impressive nature of many of the island’s sights and attractions, Reunion Island is not as popular among tourists as you might think. Part of this may be down to the fact it is not that well-known abroad. Those in charge do promote it heavily in France and they are also pushing to promote the island elsewhere too. But for the moment relatively few seem to know about it.
The advantages of this are clear. You have to be in a position to realise how untouched this island is by mass tourism to realise how promising it might be to those who want to see places that are still very natural in their appeal. Reunion certainly fits the bill, and while there are built-up areas and cities to see, the island has a generous share of natural sights that are quite breath-taking as well.
So while the island is not the easiest place to reach, it certainly isn’t completely out of reach. Make sure you are able to see it if you get the chance.