We arrived in Reunion in 2011 with nothing but our backpacks. As neither my partner nor I had a job, we decided that it would probably be best to settle in one of the bigger towns or cities.
Having read in our guidebooks that St Pierre was amazing, we headed south the moment we arrived. From our little holiday studio flat in Le Tampon the first things that needed organising were for us to buy a car and find a place to live.
After contacting a bunch of estate agencies in St Pierre and responding to numerous flat ads online, we realised that our time was quickly running out and we hadn’t even managed to visit one flat! Either fate was telling us something or there really were no flats available to rent in St Pierre that fell into our price range.
By that stage we had been up to St Denis a couple of times to look at cars. After spending some time in the city centre doing touristy stuff, we realised that we actually felt better in St Denis than in St Pierre. With that in mind we decided to get in touch with a couple of estate agencies in the north. By the end of that week we had signed a lease to a flat in the city centre and bought ourselves a car. And it just so happens that five years later, we still live and work in St Denis.
It’s not like we haven’t considered moving but the pros of staying always outweigh the cons. Staying where we are means that we can stick to having one car between the two of us. This choice is ecological as well as economical and walking is really good exercise. We are so lucky to not spend time in traffic jams. We do most of our daily tasks on foot.
Now I’m not saying that it’s only peaches and cream. St Denis is busy and noisy during the day and summers in our flat can get terribly hot. And no, we can’t just pop down to the beach for a quick swim before or after work!
But here is what I do appreciate: I love the many well preserved Creole villas and their architecture. I enjoy walking up rue de Paris to Jardin de l’Etat – what a little gem with its well-kept lawns and ancient trees. And who wouldn’t enjoy eating an ice-cream on the steps of the cathedral on a Sunday afternoon overlooking the little square and the bubbling fountain?
So St Denis it is for the moment! But who knows what the future has in store for us!
backpack – sac à dos
to settle – s’installer
flat – appartement
a bunch of – un tas de
estate agency – agence immobilière
flat ads – annonces immobilières
to manage – réussir à faire quelque chose
fate – destin
to get in touch – contacter
a lease – un bail
pros and cons – le pour et le contre
to outweigh – être plus important que
to stick to – s’en tenir à
to be lucky – être chanceux
traffic jam – embouteillage
peaches and cream – chouette
gem – bijou
well-kept – bien tenu
lawn – pelouse
to have in store – réserver