Most often found amidst sugar cane fields and away
from prying eyes at the end of an imposing path, the traditional
creole houses are today a landmark of the early settlement of the
French and English during the 17th and 18th century.
To a certain extent, the architecture of our traditional
creole houses were replicas of their original birthplaces. And so,
the colonisers brought with them the know-how and l'art-de-vivre
and, adapted to the climatic conditions of the island.
houses are built with valuable, fragrant and warm woods like camphor,
teak, mahogany and the local 'bois de natte', and the ceiling deliberately
made high for greater comfort during summer.
The roofs are slanted to evacuate rainwater and are
made with wooden shingle boards and embellished with scalloped lambrequins
of sheet metal or wood on the sides.
Typically, the creole house contains an impressive
number of doors and windows, to give more light and ensure a good
Another distinctive feature is the verandah. Considered
as an extension of the house into the garden, it is often used to
entertain outsiders, while the lounge is kept for more distinguished
For greater comfort, the creole house later accommodated
kitchen, bathroom and go-down, which until then had been kept as
separate entities. Decorative attic windows, balconies with intricately
designed balustrades in wood or cast iron were added to embellish
the traditional creole house.
Over the years however, torrential rains and cyclones,
lack of skilled carpenters and maintenance problems hundreds of
magnificent and imposing estates have fallen. Many families have
then switched to use concrete.
Today, there seems to be a renewed interest in the
architecture of the traditional creole houses and many hotels are
now recreating this very exotic feel.