Weddings in Heaven

Romancing the Seychelles Islands

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Sensual Seychelles haslong been dubbed ‘the islands of love’. Home to the unique Vallée de Mai purported by many to be the site of the original Garden of Eden, it is little wonder that lovers are inspired to take their vows and wed in this gentle and romantic atmosphere.

 

Marriage and/or honeymoon packages are offered by several leading travel agencies ensuring that your wedding day or honeymoon can be as blissfully romantic and unique as you in your wildest dreams can conjure, and that the memories of those special days will become forever emblazoned in your hearts.

 

Whether in Seychelles for a wedding or honeymoon, make a rendezvous with destiny and set your own stage for the most romantic days of your life beneath swaying palms alongside warm azure waters fringed by the silver-soft sands of hidden beaches!

 

 A selection of hotels, both large and small as well as a choice of discreet island hideaways for your honeymoon will intensify your intimacy as you lazily soak up your first glorious days and nights together. Sip exotic tropical cocktails against the backdrop of crimson sunsets. Visit the island of La Digue where time stands still and bicycles and the ox-cart hold sway on the pathways to dream beaches such as Anse Source D’Argent. 

 

Quietly stroll in the Vallée de Mai where the legendary Coco-de-mer nut grows high on ancient palms. Dine tête à tête with your feet in the sand on uncrowded beaches. Try your hand at dancing the moutia, whose sensuous rhythms beckon from the flicker of a beach fire beneath a lover’s moon.

 Come and savour the ultimate in tropical romance! Be swept off your feet by the breathtaking beauty of the world’s most stunning islands that offer you diversity, a carefree life style and the services of dedicated professionals whose attention to detail will leave you with the freedom to enjoy the romantic experience of a lifetime.

 

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Poetry: Acid on the Tree

Acid on the Tree

 Of all the things in this wide world

The saddest is to see

Someone who’s drunk from Friendship’s bough

Pouring acid on the tree

 

T’was like walking through a leafy, garden lane

To the perfect, perfumed bower

When, concealed among the scented plants

You meet the ‘nightmare flower’

 

What is that doing here you ask?

With its dripping-poison leaves

So out of place in sublime surrounds

Manicured to please

 

Destiny had to play a hand

To save me from your kind

For as truly bad as you’d become

I’d surely turned as blind.

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Jihadism and the comfy cabin

 

Where extremism is concerned, I have long believed, from my time witnessing the Iranian revolution, that we are increasingly looking at an expression of violently-projected hopelessness on the part of the have-nots of the planet against the haves.

Shrunken down to a manageable size, this planet is like an enormous boat in which a few hundred live in opulence in a cabin, while thousands rot in hunger on deck. At what point do the latter start to redress the balance? I believe that point is now.

None of this has anything to do with theocracy, because the Islamic ”terrorists” are using religion as the most convenient vehicle for their actions. This is about the desperation of displaced (or rather misplaced) migrants who we believe it is our duty to accept into our midst – but which is misdirected and completely unsustainable; it is about the way our corrupt, sleazy western societies are seen (and not wrongly) as godless and evil by the poor societies they infiltrate and prey upon (Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Iraq) and it is about the poor and destitute wanting to get off deck and into some corner of that comfy cabin.

It’s about changing the world order and Islam is the ideal vehicle because it is a religion that really champions the poor as no other. As more and more countries, particularly in the Middle east and Africa, begin to fail, Islam will increasingly champion their poverty and explain to them that they are poor because the guy over there is rich, so directing their anger and frustration. There are many economic drivers behind terrorism which simply couches itself in religious terms to facilitate mass digestion.

That, I believe, is where we are at and we can expect a lot more of the same as poor populations expand and explode….all looking for their slice of the action at the cost of the status quo.

 

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Glynn Burridge contributes foreword to Michael Adams Book: Island soul

Foreword: Michael Adams’ Souls

By Glynn Burridge, author of ‘Voices’: Seychelles short stories and ‘Kolony’: a novel of the Seychelles.

 

 

Glynn Adams 600 dpi tiff colour

 

 

 

 

From his exquisite collection of sketches, faces wearing half-forgotten yet instantly familiar expressions peer with undiminished lust for life, frozen in time yet with fire still flickering in the depths of eye and soul.

In this timeless album, Michael Adams’ unique craft teases these souls from the rainbow fabric of Seychelles’ history–one they have each helped fashion in their own, unique way as law-makers, politicians, affable rogues, shop-keepers, soldiers of fortune, femmes fatales,  dreamers, businessmen and those salt-of-the-earth personalities who garnish island life with their unique flair and charisma.

Gazing upon this pantheon of island spirits – some sadly already passed, others among us still – we are reminded how history is too often misrepresented as a dry account of events, when real history can only spring from real people. And not just those towering, larger-than-life makers and breakers of nations, but also the butchers, bakers and candle-stick makers who provide the day-to-day stuff of our existence and who fill in, beautifully,the space between giants.

This book is such a record. An eloquent, people-driven portrait of island life as could never be captured in a mere net of pretty words. This is a vibrant, pictorial account of just some of the motley crew of a small, brave Noah’s Ark floating on an immense ocean, lost to all the world.

In a way, these caricatures mimic the prophetic, eccentric assortment of Seychelles’ original settlers: 15 whites, five Malabar Indians, seven Africans and a negress,’but go further still, rounding it off with a full complement of latter-day, island-style personalities: poets, painters, thinkers, writers, drinkers, lovers, eccentrics, bohemians, madmen, troubadours and scoundrels who, together, have made (and continue, knowingly or otherwise, to do so) the Seychelles kaleidoscope.

Our modern societies, ever-more processed and soul-less,are ones in which delightful eccentrics of one form or another have little place to thrive…or even survive. You must come to a place like Seychelles to find them, where among the nooks and crannies of these magnificent isles – as in the pages of this wonderful book – their places are assured for all time.

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Air Routes to Seychelles experience an upsurge

 

voices

 

Upsurge in air routes connects Seychelles with new tourism markets

by Glynn Burridge

If one of the chief motors driving a successful tourism industry is successfully identifying a destination’s markets, then supplying airlift to those markets is also of paramount importance to any country’s tourism strategy.

This is something that has concerned the authorities responsible for driving Seychelles’ tourism industry for some time whose mandate it is to make sure that airline services to the islands provide the choice of convenient travel options necessary for visitors to plan a successful holiday to Seychelles.

Over recent years, the Seychelles Tourism Board and the SCAA (Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority) have worked together to great effect to guarantee a steady stream of visitors to our shores which, in 2016, will produce another record as numbers are projected to hit around the 300,000 mark.

Long gone are the days when, at the outset of its tourism industry, Seychelles was serviced by a commercial aircraft, a BOAC VC–10 from London Heathrow, such as landed at Seychelles’ International Airport on July 4, 1971.

In that era, Seychelles’ tourism markets lay almost exclusively in Europe, reflecting its colonial ties with both France and Britain and after the opening of the international airport in 1971, the islands’ skies were brightened by the livery of BOAC and Air France, in particular. Several other airlines flew to Seychelles at that time during the 1970s and 80s, among them East African Airways, Air Malawi, Luxair, South African Airways, El Al, British Airways, British Caledonian, Air India, Kenya Airways, Lufthansa, Air Somalia, Ethiopian Airways, Air Tanzania and South African Airways.

Changing fortunes and various political and business considerations saw many of those airlines fall away and, eventually, both Air France and British Airways ceased operating as the millennium saw power in the aviation sector shift to the Middle East, in particular Doha and Dubai whose respective carriers, Qatar Airways and Emirates Airlines took up the slack and started flying to Seychelles, heralding the dawn of a new era.

Today, the mix of aircraft flying to the islands reflects not only the continued dominance of the Middle Eastern carriers but also the greater diversity of Seychelles’ tourism markets which now extend into Africa, the Americas, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Asia and the Far East.

As 2016 comes to a close, our islands are enjoying unparalleled connectivity to all points of the compass, resulting in the fact that quite apart from the steadily growing number of direct flights to a host of major destinations, Seychelles is effectively one stop from just about anywhere on the planet.

This is thanks to a double-daily service by Emirates via Dubai; a combined number of 14 flights arriving weekly in Seychelles from Abu Dhabi via Air Seychelles and its partner Etihad Airways; four weekly direct flights from Nairobi with Kenya Airways which has been flying to Seychelles for a total of 38 years; four weekly flights by Ethiopian Airways via Addis Ababa; two weekly flights by Condor operating out of Frankfurt and two flights per week by Air Austral from La Reunion.

The national carrier Air Seychelles, in partnership with Etihad Airways, plans to launch non-stop twice-weekly flights from Seychelles to Düsseldorf, Germany in early 2017 providing travellers in Germany and the wider catchment area of Belgium, Holland and Scandinavia with attractive new travel options to Seychelles.

Another important aspect of connectivity is the accessibility it provides to new markets for Seychelles’ businesses and the opportunities for the importation via cargos of construction materials, fruit and vegetable juices, pasta, dried leguminous vegetables, olive oil, condiments and dairy and household products, for the benefit of the Seychelles consumer.

As of 30March 2017, the Seychelles flag carrier will also commence a twice-weekly service to South Africa’s port city of Durban, an important trade hub that is home to over three million people, complementing its existing five-a-week service to Johannesburg.

To further strengthen its European network, Air Seychelles will also upgrade its current Paris service from three to four flights per week, with effect from 28 March 2017, giving more travel options to holidaymakers visiting Seychelles from France.

The introduction of a second, wide-body A330 will facilitate the upgrading of capacity on South Africa’s largest city Johannesburg on Thursdays and Saturdays, Mumbai on Saturdays and Mauritius on Sundays. Air Seychelles also operates services to Beijing and Antananarivo.

As of October 2016, Sri Lankan Airlines began operating to Seychelles, replacing all flights previously operated by Mihin Lanka, with operations to Seychelles from Colombo scheduled for four times weekly on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays.

October 2016 also saw the inaugural flight of Turkish Airlines which will begin operating three times a week from Istanbul, while Austrian Airlines are expected to operate a seasonal service in early 2017.

Finally, Qatar Airways returns to Seychelles’ skies in December 2017 with seven weekly flights to the islands from Doha, completing an impressive line-up of top airlines which, together, render the islands not only supremely accessible but also desirable by virtue of these airlines’ combined international influence and marketing reach.  

 

   

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Seychelles: Nature’s last sanctuary

Seychelles: Nature’s last sanctuary

by Glynn Burridge

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The Seychelles Islands were first discovered by the brave Arab mariners of the 9th century B.C. who first began to chart the unknown waters of an ocean they called the ‘bahr al zanj’’ or ‘sea of the blacks’, leaving traces of their presence in the names they gave to certain of the islands such as Aldabra which is appropriately translated from Arabic as ‘the rock.’

These spectacularly beautiful islands may also have received visits from the Phoenicians; from a people who once sailed from the other side of the planet to settle the island of Madagascar and from the massive 1472 Chinese treasure fleet of Admiral Zheng. Whatever their past, the waves have long since washed away all trace of those early settlers and explorers.

After having served as a hideout for the pirates of the 17th and 18th century, one of whom, Olivier Le Vasseur, is believed to have buried a massive and as yet undiscovered treasure hoard on the main island, Mahé, the islands were finally settled by the French in 1756. They remained a French colony until they passed to the English after the defeat of Napoleon and it was they who administrated the islands until their independence in 1976.

The islands finally emerged from their slumber of ages in 1972 when they became connected to the rest of the world via a new international airport which saw the birth of the islands’ tourism industry.

Measuring 27km long and 8km wide, Mahé, the principal island is a mountainous, granitic island that boasts no less than 65 beaches. It is home to the capital, Victoria, and also to the international airport and to the vast majority of the 93,000, mainly Roman Catholic population. Commanding spectacular views of the surrounding ocean, Mahé contains the lion’s share of the archipelago’s hotels, tourism amenities and retail outlets. The charming capital, Victoria, has many fascinating nooks & crannies and points of historical interest including its bustling market that supplies much of the island’s fresh produce. Mahé also showcases a surprising variety of flora & fauna including many indigenous species, discoverable at the Botanical Gardens or on organised excursions along popular walks and trails. The fascinating underwater treasure houses of the Ste. Anne and Cap Ternay Marine National Parks, meanwhile, can be visited on snorkelling expeditions. 

Seychelles’ second largest island, Praslin, lies 45 kilometers (24 miles) north-east of Mahé and is accessible by Air Seychelles domestic flights in 15 minutes or by fast catamaran ferry in 45 minutes. It is home to the legendary Vallée de Mai in which grows the fabulous Coco-de-mer and possesses some of the most striking beaches of the archipelago such as Anse Lazio, widely acclaimed to be the most beautiful beach on earth.

Praslin stands at the forefront of the country’s tourism industry with a rich assortment of hotels and guesthouses whose strong tradition of Seychelles’ hospitality over a period of many years has proved a favourite with visitors.

La Digue, known as ‘the island where Time stands still’, is situated forty kilometres (25 miles) from Mahé and 7 km (3.5 miles) from Praslin and is the fourth largest island in the Seychelles after Silhouette.

The remaining five groups of Outer Islands represent the far frontier of the Seychelles holiday experience. Currently, only four such islands offer accommodation: the islands of Denis and Bird located 100 miles to the north of Mahé; Desroches Island in the Amirantes, 140 miles to the south-east and Alphonse, even further south. Here the fishing, diving and sailing are superb in places where the only sail on the ocean and the only tracks on any beach will be your own.

Overall, all the islands have been blessed with many natural assets and attributes including possessing a near-perfect and disease-free climate; an endless list of world-beating beaches; a sanctuary for some of the world’s rarest species of flora & fauna and an enviable conservation record whereby almost half of the 455 sq.km landmass has been set aside as natural parks and reserves.  There are also no less than two UNESCO World Heritage sites: the extraordinary Vallée de Mai where the legendary, double-lobed coconut, the Coco-de-Mer grows high on ancient palms in a setting so surreal it was once thought to be the original site of the Garden of Eden, and Aldabra atoll, the planet’s largest raised coral atoll.

Nowhere else on earth will you find the mysterious Jellyfish Tree of which only 8 specimens remain; the Seychelles Paradise Flycatcher; the world’s smallest frog; heaviest land tortoise; largest population of giant land tortoises (150,000) living in the wild and the Indian Ocean’s only flightless bird. Between them, the islands also boast some of the most spectacular seabird colonies on earth as well as 13 species and 17 sub-species of birdlife that occur in Seychelles and nowhere else, making the islands a true birdwatcher’s paradise.

The surrounding waters, meanwhile, are a natural aquarium boasting a dizzying array of coral reef fish, turtle, ray, shark, dolphin, marlin and sailfish as well as colourful coral growth and a host of other marine organisms. The world’s largest fish migrates to these waters: that gentle giant of the seas, the 40 ft. whale shark – one of Seychelles’ many protected species.

Also on offer is an amazing degree of diversity which takes in the contrast between 41 towering granite isles and the 74 shimmering sand cays, reef islands and atolls of the Outer Islands while the multi-ethnic roots of its relatively young society lend themselves to a varied and vibrant culture with all its people and major religions living beside one another in perfect harmony. The diversity also extends to contrasting styles of architecture and beyond to the delicious, Seychellois Creole cuisine with its magical blend of European, Indian and Chinese culinary influences.

And when it comes to things to do, there is a wide choice of world-class fishing, sailing and diving as well as spa & wellness holidays, honeymoons & romance, trekking, horse riding; zip-lining; island-hopping & golf. All of these can be enjoyed from an equally diverse array of accommodation options that includes the ultimate in pampering at exclusive 5-star resorts and island hideaways, the Creole intimacy of the smaller hotel and guesthouse and the flexibility of any number of self-caterings.

No account of Seychelles’ riches can be considered complete without mention of its reputation as ‘The Islands of Love’ and it is little wonder that that lovers are inspired to take their vows and wed in this gentle and romantic atmosphere. Sensual Seychelles creates the idyllic ambience for an unforgettable wedding day, honeymoon or anniversary upon the silver-soft sands and beneath the swaying palms of discreet island hideaways.

Transportation, both in between and around the islands, makes the visitor’s dream of island-hopping a reality and besides Air Seychelles’ domestic flights, fast ferry transfers or passages on traditional, sail-assisted schooners all bring the principal islands and their satellites within easy reach.

Meditation techniques invite us to close our eyes and imagine Shangrila, a mythical place of ultimate harmony where tired spirits can be refreshed and worries washed away. Somewhere with the space to breathe the purest air and ample room to stroll the trackless, powder-soft sands of breathtaking beaches. A place for the senses to feast on the endless delight of fresh experiences.

Creation has blessed Seychelles with all of this and more. Against the backdrop of its unique island beauty, it is a place where harmony, tranquillity and Nature at its very best will conspire to leave you with the memories of a lifetime.

 

 

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Poetry – Iran: Memories

Memories of Iran

Persian art 

You were sleeping the slumber of ages

When I first saw you

Behind virtue’s veil

Folds caressed by zephyrs

Of a golden past

 

I loved to watch you sleeping, then

My innocence and yours

Reposing beside Khayyam’s gurgling streams

Beneath the emerald tresses of weeping willows

A sweeter world at our feet

 

Now, you are gone

Vanished treasure of kings

Fallen on villains and bazaar mobs

Swirling sands of an Islamic storm

Your half-remembered splendour

A fading memory

 

I so adored you when you slumbered then

Our pure, young lives, like lovers, entwined

Before Life’s grand banquet and Khayyam’s murmuring streams

Where, I wonder, if the willows

Still weep for long lost, love?

 

 

 

 

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Seychelles mindblowing cuisine

Seychelles – a taste of four continents

By Glynn Burridge

Auberge

 

If, as is often argued, a nation’s gastronomy is its most influential ambassador, then nothing can do greater credit to the Seychellois Creole culture than its divine cuisine.

Seychelles is all about diversity – harking back to a time in the mid-eighteenth century when this archipelago of over one hundred islands, still slumbering in its first innocence, was settled by a prophetic assortment of ‘fifteen whites, five Malabar Indians, seven African’s and a negress’.

The original French settlers brought with them their legendary skills in the kitchen and their aromatic blend of spices and herbs which they adapted to an island life where seafood was abundant, meat less so and vegetables somewhat scarce. Necessity being the mother of invention, one way they achieved this was by using fruits as vegetables. This is why one finds particularly coconut, mango, papaya, pumpkin and golden apple prepared as chutneys to accompany tangy salads as well as dishes of pork, chicken and beef and, of course, fish, shellfish and crustaceans in all their Seychelles splendour.

To ubiquitous French tradition was added a certain British influence, evident in the Creole’s evergreen love of tea, cakes, custard, crumbles (and corned beef) but this was mild in comparison to that of the Chinese and Indian workforce arriving in the mid-1800s. The Chinese contributed their love of noodles and rice dishes with steamed fish and vegetables while the Indians introduced a variety of curries, beans, chillies, dhals, kebabs and the many piquant flavours of home. Meanwhile, via liberated Malagasy and African slaves, came velvety coconut milk, cassava and banana infusions.

Down the years, a melting pot of culinary techniques has taken root in Seychelles to mirror the varied ethnicity of its population, producing the grand symphony of flavours, tastes and textures which we know today as Creole cuisine.

Thanks to silky notes of vanilla, muscat, coconut, lemon grass, cinnamon, allspice and myriad other spices accompanying its rich harvest of seafood, quality meats, herbs and vegetables, Seychelles offers a tantalising choice of salads, mouth-watering main courses and decadent desserts.

Its array of enticing, colourful dishes, served against the backdrop of the islands’ unmatched natural beauty, lends quite another dimension to being a ‘foodie’ – one that will call you back to these islands time and again.

As you might expect of such a kaleidoscopic destination, great places to eat can be found in the five-star cocoons of top international hotels but also in the intimate atmosphere of the smaller Seychellois hotels and restaurants where Creole fare is popular. Stand-alone restaurants, often in stunning settings, are many and dotted throughout the islands, serving a wide range of international favourites including Indian, Chinese, Japanese and classic French and Italian cuisines.

Beachside restaurants offer excellent seafood and an unforgettable, feet-in-the-sand experience as well, aligning you with the true Seychellois island lifestyle, while an assortment of bars and bistros serve great coffee, snacks and ice-creams for those on the run.

Seychelles is proud of its culinary heritage. Night bazaars and other nooks and crannies will introduce the curious visitor to local delicacies such as boudin (blood sausage), freshly BBQ’d fish and kebabs, homemade cassava and banana chips, graton (pork crackling) as well as tasty desserts in the form of cloying almond nougats and caramelised papaya. You might even be tempted to wash them down with a local fermented brew of la puree or bacca as you try your hand at a moutya – the once-forbidden dance of slaves – before an open fire, to the primal beat of a goat-skin drum and the soughing of the waves.

 

Auberge – ‘Chez Plume’

Few restaurants in Seychelles can boast the pedigree of Chez Plume, resting in full view of the Bay of Anse Boileau on Mahé Island’s scenic western coast.

Renowned for its fine dining, Chez Plume’s dinner menu, named in honour of an expansive French adventurer and African traveller who once owned the restaurant, has remained much the same for the last 25 years. Its loyal clientele who continue to frequent this iconic restaurant after a recent change of ownership speaks volumes of the way its reputation and standards are being maintained.

The signature dishes of this 80-seater, open-air restaurant include succulent ginger crab; whole grilled snapper à la Creole; white fish fillet (capitaine blanc) with passion fruit sauce and breadfruit croquettes; locally caught lobster and fresh clams fished straight from Anse Boileau Bay. Rare local treats such as roast fruit bat also grace the menu as does a selection of freshly made jams and choice vegetables from the restaurant’s very own vegetable garden.

If you’re looking for a memorable lunch, Chez Plume is the place for a choice of pastas, a genuine Caesar or Greek salad, a succulent steak, plate of juicy ribs or prawns on a skewer washed down with a frosty local Seybrew beer or glass of Louis Moreau Chablis. Dessert includes the famous souffle passion, which will surely bring you back for more.   

Anse Boileau. Tel.+2484355050 Facebook/restaurantchezplume   www.aubergeanseboileau.com

 

La Plaine St. Andre – La Grande Maison

Arguably, the best fine-dining restaurant of the entire archipelago, La Grande Maison is located in the historic La Plaine St. Andre, the site of one of southern Mahé’s grand old plantation houses dating back to 1792. Positively dripping history from every pore, La Grande Maison has recently undergone a comprehensive refurbishment, restoring it to its former glory amid gardens evocative of another time.

The restaurant, which forms part of the celebrated Takamaka Rum distillery, takes dining in Seychelles to a new level under the inspired guidance of chef Christelle Verheyden whose creations are a perfect fusion of her own carefully-honed techniques and creativeness à la Creole which makes extensive use of local produce.

Favourites include freshly cut palm heart salad with truffles and curry leaves; red snapper fillet with green mousseline, basil and combats and tuna and foie gras, all complemented by a selection of fine rums and choice imported wines such as the rare red Alicante Suori Mondo ‘Z’acco’ from Tuscany.

The dining experience in this charming old plantation house overlooking gardens of exceptional character will be a memory not soon forgotten. 

 

La Plaine St. Andre, East coast rd, Au Cp. Tel. +248 2522112. www. Lgmssey.com

 

Le Bistro

Nestled in the leafy suburb of Mont Fleuri, just opposite the Botanical Gardens, on the outskirts of the capital Victoria, lies a new Bistro on the top floor of the Alliance Francaise building and run by Seychelles premier supermarket with access to the finest local and international produce.

Serving breakfast and lunch, Le Bistro has struck a chord with local foodies in search of a convenient, characterful place to dine in attractive surrounds that offers value for money. Le Bistro’s simple but appetizing menu includes swordfish rillettes, seafood gazpacho, slow-cooked shoulder of lamb and an excellent island-style tuna curry followed by coconut crème brule and coconut mousse with mango jelly. As might be expected of an island like Seychelles and the availability of the finest quality fish, Le Bistro also offers Seychellois grouper bouillabaisse with its fresh homemade rouille.

For those visiting Victoria and looking for a chic, intimate atmosphere and a great menu, Le Bistro will not disappoint. Proposing ‘a taste of France in Seychelles’, top Trip Advisor ratings attest to Le Bistro’s growing popularity especially among those in search of an ideal venue for an ìnformal business lunch with snappy, friendly service or for that rendezvous with a difference.

2nd floor Alliance Francaise Building, Mont Fleuri Rd. Tel.+248 2537803 Facebook/LeBistroseychelles

 

Bravo!

Mahé’s Eden Island is a one stop shop for visitors, offering great scenic views of the marina, shopping opportunities in the island’s only mall and a fine choice of restaurants of which the centrepiece is undoubtedly Bravo! a south African styled bistro with an extensive menu right on the waterfront and with a commanding view of its stunning mountain backdrop.

This is a place for all the family with a special kiddies’ menu sure to put a smile on young faces almost as wide as their parents as they contemplate a wide range of classic salads, delicious starters, wholesome pizzas, juicy burgers, pastas and awesome seafood stackers, sashimi, curries and platters. You’ll want to stay for dessert which includes sundaes, mousse and cheese and black forest cake. Bravo! also serves fresh juices, spirits, cocktails and wines to top off your day at one of the coolest places on the island.

Eden Island. Tel. +248 4346020 Facebook/ Bravo Restaurant

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History of Seychelles

History of Seychelles for Absolut Magazine

If one single factor has determined the course of Seychelles colourful history, then it is the fact that, as a country, it was settled relatively recently, in the mid-18th century, by French colonists and their retainers or, as the story goes, by a prophetic assortment of 15 whites, five Malabar Indians, seven Africans and a negress’.

So much for settlement, but the unrecorded history of the islands that appear on a number of the earliest maps, predates this by many centuries and has also coloured the character of the islands and their evolution into the nation state that we know today as Seychelles.

In around 600 BC a Phoenician expedition sent down the Red Sea by pharaoh Necho II of Egypt circumnavigated Africa and returned through the Pillars of Hercules after three years. Did they make landfall in the islands we now know as Seychelles? We have to be content with conjecture with regards to this fascinating prospect.

The first people to pass by the islands and probably use them as temporary shelters were the ancestors of the people who eventually populated the nearby island of Madagascar. They rode the oceans on primitive but rugged outrigger canoes from their home in the Sunda Islands of the Malay Archipelago sometime between 200 and 500 AD and it is likely some of their craft, blown off course during their spectacular migration, used the islands as a base before venturing on into the azure vastness to what would eventually become their new home.

Early Arab explorers came across these island jewels dotted in a lost corner of the western Indian Ocean as they made their first forays into what they called ‘bahr al zanj’, (the sea of the blacks) which was perhaps a reference to the spoils of early expeditions when they captured slaves from the east coast of the African continent.

It is clear from certain early manuscripts of Perso-Arab origin that the Arab mariners of as early as the 9th century knew these islands as jazayer é zarrin (the golden isles) which is how their unreal natural beauty must have appeared after months sailing on a featureless ocean. The atoll of Aldabra, one of Seychelles farthest outposts, carries an Arabic name which means ‘the green one’: another reference to an island popping up, literally, from out of the blue. Certain rough island graves have also been attributed to Arab sailors who never made it home from their long, hazardous expeditions into the great watery unknown.

Portuguese navigator Juan de Nova made the first recorded landfall in the Seychelles in 1501 followed by a sighting of her Amirantes group by the celebrated Vasco de Gama in the following year. On early Portuguese maps, Seychelles appeared as the Sete Irmas  or Seven Sisters but would have to wait until 1609 for the first landing of a squadron from the English East India Company whose crew brought back tales of the islands’ abundance, the koker nuts and the fierce ‘allagartes’ that patrolled the surrounding waters.

The next group of people to visit Seychelles and use it as a lair were the pirates. A little known historical fact places a large pirate community on the island of Ile Ste. Marie off north-western Madagascar in the early 1700’s as they fled, first the Caribbean and then the Cape Verde Islands to find a haven in the unknown waters of the western Indian Ocean. In Ile Ste Marie they founded their own pirate republic – Libertalia, complete with its own laws and language and they managed a commercial operation so large that it even tempted the Americans to travel for the first time into the Indian Ocean. Some of the great pirates of the day: Irving, Teatch, White and Kidd made an appearance at some point in Libertalia. It is even claimed that, from there, around 1720, Olivier Levasseur, known as La Buse, travelled to Seychelles with three ships where he concealed a fabulous booty he raided from the Vierge du Cap among the hills of Bel Ombre in northern Mahé. To this day, the treasure has never been found, even though it is claimed artefacts from this horde have made their way into certain private collections.

The pirates came and went but, after several exploratory expeditions, the French finally claimed the islands’ beauty as their own, first occupying Ste Anne island before moving on to Mahé.

The first few years of the colony were hard times. The harvests failed, the settlers faced starvation and their commanders lost control. The grandly named Jardin du Roi spice garden project ended in fiasco. In May 1780 a ship was sighted from Mahé. Believing it to be English and not wanting the garden to fall into enemy hands the gardens were burnt to the ground. When the ship sailed closer it was discovered to be French after all. But by then it was too late: the gardens and the spices, save a cinnamon tree or two, were completely destroyed.  Other man-made destructions occurred in those early years: the tortoise population on Mahé was decimated with many hundreds of tortoises shipped to Isle de France or eaten by the settlers. By 1778 they were almost completely wiped out on Mahé. The endemic Seychelles crocodile was also hunted to extinction as were several species of birds.   

The year 1789 saw the start of the French Revolution. The colony in Seychelles at this time consisted of 69 French, including three soldiers, 32 free ‘coloureds’ and 487 slaves. In 1790 the French community, fired by the new spirit of revolution, set up their own Assembly and Committee, announcing independence from the Isle de France. But the newly independent colony did not last long. One by one the great declarations of independence were dropped, particularly the abolition of slavery, which was not at all popular with the colonists. Eventually it was agreed that the powers of the committee should be given to a new commandant who would be able to govern more effectively. The new commandant was a popular choice: Captain Queau de Quinssy (later spelled Quincy).

He was not only the longest serving Governor of the colony, but also achieved the most during the long troubled years of the Napoleonic Wars. During these wars the islands changed hands between the French and the English several times, and it was Quincy who repeatedly capitulated (no less than seven times!) to avoid bloodshed. It was soon agreed that Seychelles should be a neutral port to the English and the French and so the settlers avoided the conflicts and blockades that other Indian Ocean ports suffered. This also suited the many French corsairs who were sailing the Indian Ocean plundering enemy ships: Mahé became a popular port of call for many of the most notorious corsairs of the day.

The British fought for Seychelles and Isle de France because both island nations were strategic points on the route between India and the Cape, and because the corsairs remained a menace. In 1810, after a long blockade, Isle de France capitulated and the British renamed it Mauritius. That Seychelles would become British property was now guaranteed, and duly occurred in 1814. Quincy remained in office under British rule and died on Mahé in 1827 at the age of 79. He was buried with full honours near Government House, where his impressive grave still stands today.

During the British colonial period, Seychelles gained roads, schools, churches and a hospital. By 1900 the population had grown to 7,000 and in 1903 Seychelles became a crown colony in its own right, separate at last from Mauritius. The British Governor commemorated the event by erecting a clock tower in the centre of Victoria, a replica of the clock tower at London’s Vauxhall Bridge.

Although a British colony, the culture of Seychelles remained steadfastly French. British Governors did attempt to anglicise the islands, but with little success: customs and language did not alter much during the British colonial era.

It was during the Second World War that the winds of political change began to stir in Seychelles and, shortly afterwards, universal adult suffrage was granted. In 1962 two political parties were formed under the leadership of two lawyers who were to remain the main political figureheads for the rest of the century: France Albert Rene and James Mancham. Independence from Britain was gained in 1976, and today Seychelles is a Republic (population 93,000) within the British Commonwealth under the leadership of President Danny Rollen Faure.

 

 

 

 

 

 History pic

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Glynn Burridge on National Geographic

Video from ‘A Local’s Guide to Seychelles’ by Glynn Burridge for National Geographic. Click here for the full article.

 

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