Nestled at the heart of a magnificent cirque, at around 1,200 metres in altitude, the spa resort of Cilaos not only enjoys an exceptional environment but also a pleasant climate and plenty of sunshine. Accessible via a narrow, winding road with no fewer than 400 bends, this pretty little town in the Hauts area of the island lies at the foot of the famous Piton des Neiges.
The ideal starting point for a hike to the nearby beauty spots, Cilaos also has many shops, restaurants and accommodation that make it a popular stopover for visitors and ramblers.
With its spa offering well-being and fitness treatments, Réunion's only spa resort is also popular with fans of relaxation and hikers who come to unwind after a long walk, like the tough ascent of the Piton des Neiges! Specialising in the prevention and treatment of rheumatism and digestive disorders, as well as hydrotherapy services, the Cilaos thermal baths also offer complementary treatments such as a sauna, Turkish bath, manual relaxation and seaweed body wraps.
Not far away, heading back towards the city centre, you can stop by the beautiful Church of Our Lady of the Snow (Notre-Dame-des-Neiges) and its charming floral garden, before going for a stroll along Rue du Père Boiteau, a lively place dotted with shops and restaurants. For a spot of shopping, head to the small covered market that not only sells the cirque's most famous specialities, such as wine, sparkling water and Cilaos lentils, but also spices and macerated rums. To stock up on fresh fruit and vegetables, regional produce and craft items, bear in mind that there is a great outdoor market every Sunday morning on Rue des Écoles.
Before setting off for a hike in the area around the town, you can also visit the Cilaos Wine Cellar and its House of Wines, an essential place to go for anyone wanting to learn more about this vineyard and its production. Or you can discover the House of Embroidery, where you can admire some beautiful examples of traditional embroidery, with skills passed on down the generations. The pleasant pond of Mare à Joncs, not far away, is ideal for a little family outing: pedalo, kayak and electric boat rides will delight children and grown-ups alike!
Anyone passing by in October should be sure not to miss the lentil festival that takes place during the harvest every year. During this celebratory event, the famous pulse from the Cilaos cirque is honoured with exhibitions, lectures, entertainment, tastings and a gastronomy competition.