Such a pleasant discovery in Curepipe: le Domaine des Aubineaux. It is trip back in time as you enter this gorgeous colonial house. It has been renovated, but the owners have kept the house as it was. The domaine is also know as Maison Gimbeau, name of the owners of the house.
The first room you enter is the room used to play cards and other board games. However when Mme Myriam Guimbeau, the last person to have lived in the house, became a widow she decided to move there. The house has a total of 27 rooms, so maybe she felt a bit alone and decided to close some rooms off. She died in 1999. The room shows different pieces of furniture in many different types of wood: teak, rose wood, ebony or cinnamon.
The next room is the entrée, the curiosity here is the walls. Painted by an Italian artist, they had been covered by wallpaper and only rediscovered during the renovations.
Followed then is the music room. The Philharmonic society of Curepipe used to come to the house and do concerts.
You continue the tour and enter the winter garden. A beautiful room, that is now used as part of the restaurant. This was the room where Madame would receive her guests. The next room is the smoking room where Major Gimbeau would smoke his cigars and read books. There are many things displayed here that would remind him of all his travels.
You go through the pantry and the living room. The kitchen was separate from the main house to minimise the risks of fire in the main house and the cave was used as storage room for fresh products to keep them fresher for a longer time, this was before the arrival of the fridge. This house was the first to get electricity on the island in 1881. They got their first television set in 1965.
Many houses got badly damaged when cyclone Carol hit Mauritius in February 1968. It is the worst cyclone people remember, the eye of the cyclone went directly over the island with estimated gushes of wind up to 280km/h. 70’000 houses were destroyed. Even big ones like this one had problems, so just imagine the small houses in metal sheets and small wooden pieces!
During the renovations they incorporated the hallway, very unusual in this type of houses – in away they separated the public and private space in the house. The bell on the picture is the original bell used by the owners to call the servants.
The last rooms of the house are the bedrooms and the bathroom. His room and hers as well as one of the children’s. A little anecdote regarding the size of the beds, which were rather small: they used to sit up sleeping, because they believed that the complete flat position was for the dead only. The bathroom has the original bathtub in marble of Italian design and the stove used to heat the water. I wonder if they ever got to know what soaking in a hot bath meant… or maybe that is an anachronism.
Last but not least, a few more pictures of the house, the servants quarters and views from the house. It is just so lovely. Next time I’ll write about the lunch I enjoyed after the tour. The visit is payable. I forgot to check on the tourist price, but for this type of attraction it is usually around Rs300 (with a guide). The visit might be free if you have lunch (it is for locals) but then you cannot join the guided tour. Rate for locals is Rs175 (or was it Rs170?). The tour is in French or English.
The visit of the house is the first part of ‘La Route du Thé’. As part of a package you can visit this house, then the tea plantations of Bois Chéri and St Aubin, the rhum distillery. These other 2 ones are located in the South of the Island, so am hoping I can take the kiddos with me to visit during their Easter holidays.
Did you notice the tiles? They are on the terrace, in the winter garden and in the bathroom. They are just gorgeous! I was looking for something similar for our small bungalow in the north but you have to order this from Europe, it takes months for them to arrive, and of course they cost a fortune…
Posted linked up on Travel Photo Thursday