Pleasantly redolent with nonchalant provincial charm, Saint-Denis is a good introduction to Réunion. With its neat grid layout - a reminder of its vocation as a colonial trading post, the city centre, can be covered on foot: you will come across Creole houses, in particular along rue de Paris. Stop off on Le Barachois, something of a local focal point, or linger among the stalls of the Petit Marché, because it is the streets themselves that offer the best taste of this attractive melting pot of a city.
The best place to have lunch in St-Denis is undoubtedly the Barachois, the seafront park at the northern tip of the city where the history of the island once called l’Île Bourbon began. Choose a food shack – daily menus are posted outside – and order sarcives (when available), rougail (sausages or boucané), massalé or cari and a bottle of Dodo (local ale) or Cot (local lemonade) and then choose a table overlooking the sea, pull up a (wobbly) garden chair and enjoy your food.