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Ooaj Travel Guide, tourism, hotel reservation, residence, plane, cheap pension for you holidays in reunion
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The Portuguese discovered the uninhabited island in 1513. From the 17th to the 19th centuries, French immigration supplemented by influxes of Africans, Chinese, Malays, and Malabar Indians gave the island its ethnic mix. The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 cost the island its importance as a stopover on the East Indies trade route.
Although remote from metropolitan (European) France, Réunion nonetheless officially forms an integral part of the Republic, representing its own département.
Passport and Visa
Reunion is an integral part of France so it has the same rules as France, which you can get from France's page.
The main airport is Roland Garros international Airport located near Saint-Denis. Companies flying to Reunion are Air France (http://www.airfrance.com), Air Austral (http://www.air-austral.com/), Corsair (http://www.corsair.fr/) and Air Mauritius (http://www.airmauritius.com/).
You'd better take a cheap flight to Paris and then buy a ticket starting from Paris. Indeed, it can be a lot more expensive to have a ticket from your home town which includes the flight to Reunion Island.
You can travel by boat between Mauritius and Reunion islands.
Intercity bus travel around the island is served by Car Jaune ("Yellow Bus", buses are easily recognizable by there yellow color). There are 13 lines. Apart from these buses there are also local buses. Most of lines operate between 6am and 6pm. You can get schedules and details on their official website (http://www.cg974.fr/default.asp?fichier=http%3A//www.cg974.fr/rubriques/transports/carsjaunes/cardep.html). Click on "Plans et tarifs" for a map of the network.
There is one main road around the island (74km of it is four-lane) and another road from Saint-Pierre to Saint-Benoit through the inner part of the island.
Due to the high number of cars, traffic jams often occur so you should avoid travelling during peak times.
Because of the volcano, road is sometimes closed on the east side. Because of the rain (mostly between December and March), the four-lane between La Possession and Saint-Denis is "basculée", that is switched to a two-lane road.
Roads are well maintained.
French is the official language of France, although Creole is widely spoken. Everyone understands French but few people understand English.
English speakers meet every Monday at 7:30pm (including during holidays) at Chez Francky in Rue de la Compagnie in Saint-Denis.
Reunion is part of the Eurozone, so as in many other European Union countries the currency used is the euro (symbol: ?).
It is compulsory, for the large majority of businesses, to post prices in windows. Hotels and restaurants must have their rates visible from outside.
Most shops accept international cr cards (Visa and Mastercard) but most of them require a minimum amount for cr cards payments (usually ?15).
There is a good number of ATM (called "gabier") which don't charge you for using them.
Most shops are closed on Sunday.
Most of supermarkets are opened from 9:00am to 8:00pm, Monday to Saturday. Some of them are opened on Sunday morning.
You can find traditional objects in some shops but it's often easier and cheaper to go to a market (marché). The market in Saint-Paul is famous and you'll also find fruits and vegetables: it gathers on Friday morning and afternoon and on Saturday morning.
It's a good place where to buy African traditional objects, such as Oware (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oware).
Here are some ideas for gifts:
Thanks to its history, Reunionese cuisine is a mix between different cultures: French, Indian, Chinese...
Typical dishes are cari and rougail which are a meat or a fish cooked in a sauce and eaten with rice.
There are many possible accommodation types in reunion: Ordinary hotels; privately run Gîtes d'Étape; Gîtes de Montagne are mountain cabins or lodges located in the central areas appropriate and operated by Maison de la Montagne; young hostels operated by AJOI (http://www.ajoi-reunion.com/).
For European people coming from an EU country, working in Reunion is allowed without problem. If you're from outside the EU, you will probably need a work permit - check with the French Embassy in your country. Do not forget though that the unemployment rate is high. But if you work in the heath sector (doctor, nurse), it will be much easier.
Voluntary service: Volontariat Civil à l'Aide Technique (VCAT). Conditions: you must be French or from another EU-member state or a country belonging to the European Economic Area. You must be over 18 and under 28 years old (inclusive). You must not have had your civic rights revoked by a court or have been convicted of certain offences. VCAT (http://www.outre-mer.gouv.fr/outremer/front?id=outremer/a_votre_service/volontariat_civil___l_aide_technique_1045663353938/publi_P_vcat_remise_en_forme_1084201024219)
Reunion is fairly safe. You must, however, respect some simple principles:
Most of crimes are family-related which are due to alcoholic behaviors.
There is no particular disease but you should protect you from the sun.
Sanitary and medical facilities in Reunion are very good.
Health care in Reunion is controlled by a state-owned organisation (Sécurité Sociale).
The major hospital is in Saint-Denis but there are various other in important cities. Doctors are in almost every village.
Tap water is usually safe for consumption. Public sources of water are unsafe if labeled with "Eau non potable" (no drinking water).
Visitors from European Union should bring a E111 form with them. Ask details at your local health care organisation.
Emergency phone numbers
During the cyclonic season (November to April), you should check cyclone warnings shown in newspapers or broadcasted by the radio or TV. There is three state of warning:
Country code: 262
Dialing within Reunion: all numbers have 10 digits. Landlines begin by 0262 and mobile phones by 0692.
Dialing to Reunion: international prefix + 262 + phone number without the first 0 (this leads to dial twice 262 which is normal). If you dial from France, just use the 10 digits number.
Dialing from Reunion: the international prefix is 00.
Calling to a mobile phone is more expensive than to a landline. Number beginning by 0800 are free phone. Number beginning by 089 are premium-rate.
Few foreign mobile phone companies offer international roaming to Reunion so double-check before leaving. Your company should provide specific roaming to Reunion since it has deferent mobile phone companies than in mainland France.
Alternatively, you should be able to get a Pay-as-you-go SIM card from various locations. There are two companies offering wireless services: SRR (http://www.srr.fr/) and Orange Réunion (http://www.orange.re/).
Post offices are found in all cities.
Letter boxes are colored in yellow.
Less than 20g (postcard, letter with one or two pages in a regular envelop) :
The basic stamp for regular mail is red with the head of "Marianne" (the Republic logo). It does not carry its value and can therefore be used even after a price increase. It is sold in all Post Offices, Bureaux de Tabacs (Tobacco sellers identified by a red lozenge) and postcard vendors. The latter may also carry other common stamps.
In most Post Offices you will find an automatic machine (yellow) with a scale and a screen. Just put your mail on the scale, tell the machine (French or English) the destination, pay the indicated amount and the machine will deliver a printed stamp.
Chronopost, UPS and DHL offer parcel services.