Overview of L’Aventure Du Sucre
A tour at the L’Aventure du Sucre (Sugar Adventure) promises you an exciting and fruitful visit at the old Beau Plan Sugar Factory which was once operational from the 18th to 20th century. The sugar museum beautifully nestles in the remote area of the popular Pamplemousses village which is also known for its enchanting historical botanical garden, the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Garden.
The L’aventure du Sucre is an initiative undertaken by three Mauritian sugar groups, notably Constance La Gaiete Co Ltd, Deep River Beau Champ Ltd, and Harel Freres Ltd who wanted to present to Mauritians and tourists the historical and cultural side of the sugar cane production in Mauritius. It is worth mentioning that the sugarcane industry had contributed massively to the Mauritian economy in the past. Sugar was once considered as one of the most valuable products in the world especially during late colonization periods.
Besides, learning about the history of sugar plantation you will have the privilege to learn about the island’s history and its evolution, from the time the Dutch set foot on Mauritius, until today. It covers the establishment of Mauritius, starting from the Dutch, French and British settlements. You will also learn about the stories, triumphs and difficulties that people went through while creating the sugar industry on the island; this englobes slavery, indentured labourers and their harsh treatments.
This visit is worth being spent with family and children to learn about the Mauritian history and culture. Normally, it takes about two hours to complete the tour and it eventually ends with a tasting of the different sugars and Mauritian rum.
Sugarcane in Mauritius
Sugar plantations are widely grown in tropical climates like Mauritius and the Caribbean islands. Over 1000 years ago sugar was already known to the Indians and Chinese. This valuable commodity travelled from the Far and Middle East to the Mediterranean. It was mostly planted to produce rum or sugar.
Mauritius used to be a prosperous sugar plantation colony. The island had witnessed an epic history with its many sugar cane mills across the country, but today the number of sugar factories has declined. Presently about 72 000 hectares of sugarcane is cultivated in Mauritius. The sugar industry is not just about growing sugarcane and producing sugar, but also about generating energy for the island.
Once an incredibly sought-after commodity, sugar has played a crucial role in the history, and development of Mauritius. The first sugarcane crops were introduced from Java by Dutch settlers in the 1600s. French colonists arrived shortly after the Dutch abandoned the island in 1710, and by the time of the Napoleonic Wars in the early 1800s, there were around 60,000 slaves working in the island’s sugar industry – much of the country’s population at the time. Most were replaced by indentured labourers from India after the abolition of slavery in the British Empire during the 1830s.
Before the advent of tourism and textile manufacturing in the 1960s, sugar remained the major industry in Mauritius – and to this day is still an important economic driver, though increased mechanisation and consolidation of the mills has led to far fewer numbers being employed.
Historical Background of L’Aventure Du Sucre
During the colonial period, Mauritius was expanding massively in the sugar production through the British colony, yet after many years of its independence the island saw a drastic decline in the industry. Many sugar factories were closing down.
In 1998, the Beau Plan Sugar Estate ceased to operate after 177 years of contributing in the sugar industry of the island. The factory was converted into a museum which is today known as L’Aventure du Sucre. This old estate has been restored and does an excellent job conveying the complex story of sugar and how it is intertwined with the roots of the Mauritian people- going back 4 centuries, woven into the history of the island itself.
With an authentically re-created ambience, the different stages of sugar production are exhibited and explained, from the early cultivation of the canes and the role of slavery in growing this vital crop, to the creation of the finished products and their eventual exportation to Western markets. Much of the original machinery – pipes, vats, vessels – are still on display, including two locomotives and a large wooden barge which was used to transport sugar from Mauritius to Madagascar (its last voyage was in the year 2000).
Visit of L’Aventure Du Sucre
It would take you approximately 2 hours to complete the ‘sugar tour’ inside the Beau Plan mill, but you can also spend your entire day over there. During the visit you will have the opportunity to watch evocative films from the early years before discovering all there is to know about the sugar industry in Mauritius.
The tour is laid out in such a way that you feel like you are walking through the history of Mauritius, starting with the discovery of the island, the early settlements, the slave trade, the arrival of the indentured labourers, life on the colony and the independence of Mauritius, followed by its recent history.
The museum also covers the sugar production process and its resulting products. You will even take a walk and view the machines used in extracting cane sugar from the fields to the mills; the clarifiers, the evaporators, vacuum pans, crystallizers, centrifuges and even the chemistry lab. All along you will be reading and seeing how sugar transforms from cane to the many sugars we know and consume. This is truly the single most informative activity you can do when in Mauritius as it really covers everything.
L’Aventure du Sucre also includes a large display of arts depicting sugar, from as early as the 15th century up to the modern day. These paintings are a marvelous show case of the importance of sugar to our lives. They explore how sugar, once a rare and precious commodity, was limited to upper classes and royalties, and a measure of a nation’s wealth and prosperity. It’s use in the sculptures and the decadent table arts of the aristocratic communities, to even its power over nations and their eagerness to possess and control its source.
Children are guided by the museum’s two mascots: Floryse the Mongoose and Raj the Indian Mynah, who will entertain them with stories, field any questions, and test their knowledge with a short quiz, rewarding correct answers with a quick toot-toot on the old steam train.
Visitors will get to sample the different types of unrefined sugars. If you love baking, you will love the rich flavours of these sugars, which are so much more delicious than the regular ones. For the adults, the tour ends with a complimentary rum tasting. There are various sugar rums, spiced & aged rums and even flavoured rums are available. The vanilla and coffee flavoured liqueurs are highly recommended.
Facilities at L’Aventure du Sucre
There are many on-site facilities such as Le Fangourin restaurant located in a lovely lush setting overlooking the mountains of the central plateau. With its perfectly preserved vegetation, its picturesque pond with lush greenery and geese, the restaurant offers a stress free environment conducive to relaxation.
The Fangourin cuisine is inspired from unique flavors while maintaining a rich Mauritian culinary heritage; a cuisine that is both refined and festive, that infuses new flavors while preserving the Mauritian culinary tradition. The Fangourin also offers services ranging from cocktails and hors d’oeuvres to full dinners.
The Village Boutik of L’Aventure du Sucre
The authentic artisanal shop-the Village Boutik offers a range of craft products made by the locals which helps to perpetuate their know-how built up over many generations. Craft skills have a history behind them, constituting of an intangible legacy and are very much part of the country’s cultural heritage.
Visitors generally appreciate and show interest about the story behind the attractive gift boxes which are made out of ‘vacoas’ (a local screwpine) by fishermen who weave them by hand before their wives stitch a fine lining inside.
You will also have the chance to learn about the sugar cartons which are made by hand, with minute attention to detail, by a small craft company in the North of the island. In short, each product has an interesting story behind to tell.
House of New Grove- L’Aventure du Sucre
L’Aventure du Sucre now has the House of New Grove in its Village Boutik, a fine, contemporary designed space to show New Grove’s prestigious range of rums. L’Aventure du Sucre by New Grove’s amber-coloured rums are aged in oak barrels and include Very Special (VS), Very Superior Old Pale (VSOP) and Extra Old (XO) varieties. There are also exotic liqueurs flavoured with coffee, vanilla and Rodriguan honey, which are greatly appreciated, as well as the superb La Solera made from a blend of rums the oldest of which is more than twenty five years’ old. One of the collection’s great successes is a range of rums featuring special sugars (molasses, demerara and golden bakery). There’s nothing like them anywhere else in the world and they were specially developed for L’Aventure du Sucre by the cellar master, Christian Vergier. They and the aged rums (vieux rhums) are particularly popular with visitors to the island.
L’Aventure Du Sucre Visit Plan:
- A taste of sugar
- The historical wing, beneath the old factory chimney
- The sugar process: from cane to juice
- The technology stands
- The sugarcane stands
- The sugar and rum routes
- The children’s area
- Temporary exhibition space
- The auditorium & meeting room
- Le Village Boutik
- The Isle de France cellars
Operating Days: Everyday (except on 24, 25, 26 & 31 December and 1 & 2 January)
Operating Time: 09:00 to 17:00
Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes to 2 hours