Heritage Resorts - Stories 2018 - Issue 2 - Page 88



|HISTORY
HISTORICAL
FIGURES OF
BEL OMBRE
BEL OMBRE AND ITS SURROUNDING REGIONS HAVE LONG BEEN
ISOLATED FROM THE REST OF MAURITIUS. OVER THE CENTURIES, A
FEW HISTORICAL FIGURES HAVE HELPED TO BRING IT OUT OF THE
SHADOWS AND MAKE IT KNOWN TO THE WORLD AS ONE OF THE
MOST BEAUTIFUL TOURIST SITES OF THE ISLAND.
by Thierry Chateau
AMÉDÉE MAINGARD
(1918-1981)
The French writer JacquesHenri Bernardin de SaintPierre (1737-1814), author
of Paul and Virginia, one of
the first bestsellers of French
literature, briefly stayed in
Bel Ombre, still very isolated
at the time. A romanticist,
botanist, and author with a
cause, even though he was
not fundamentally against
slavery, he looked upon
Mauritius with a critical eye,
where he stayed for three
years, as from 1768. In his
first book, A Voyage to the
Isle of France (Mauritius was
previously called Isle of
France while under French
rule), published in 1773, he
spells the name of the village
as “Belle Ombre,” and makes
an idyllic description of the
region and its surroundings,
in particular of the Jacotet
Bay. Resolutely humancentred and surprisingly
environmentally conscious
for its time, the first book
written on Mauritius contains
crucial information on
the island.
Captain Matthew
Flinders (1774-1814) got
stranded near Bel Ombre
in December 1803 aboard
the Cumberland. This
English navigator and
cartographer lead the first
86
circumnavigation of Australia,
which he identified as a
continent. His ship was in
poor condition when he
returned from Australia,
forcing him to dock for
repairs. In the midst of the
French-English war, the
French governor of the Isle
of France, Charles Mathieu
Isidore Decaen, suspected
Flinders of spying and had
him detained. He was placed
under house arrest for the
first few months before
being allowed to move
around more freely. He was
finally released in June 1810
and returned to England via
Cape Town.
| HERITAGE RESORTS STORIES

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