This small French island off the east coast of Madagascar was my home for four days recently with three other bloggers (hello Talya, Raya and Amy) and Dani from Piz Buin. Picture azure blue water (warm enough to bath in, yes really) an abundance of palm trees, French, African and Asian-inspired tastes, more flavours of rum than I ever imagined possible and balmy 36 degree heat. Yip, pretty much what you’d expect from a tropical island.
Parapente aka paragliding
We kicked off our Reunion tour with a spot of paragliding – you know, when you throw yourself off a mountain 800m up, with a French-speaking stranger (luckily mine had twenty years of experience) to soar in the air and really understand the term, ‘bird’s eye view’. What an experience though, we had 20 minutes of flying and cloud catching (I was even allowed to steer) before our feet reached terra firma again.
Then it was back to our marvelous hotel Lux* Ile de La Reunion for a lesson in fragrance. Did you know you have to identify 315 different essential oils and study for seven years with a grand perfumer before you can call yourself a nose and start mixing your own scents? Luckily for us Tam (who trained with Serge Lutens – respect!) was on hand to help us create our own fragrance. She believes ‘smelling is a kind of magic travel’ and I must concur, as I will always associate Reunion with Frangipani and Combava (a citrus note that comes from a rather odd looking lime, it’s used in a lot of men’s fragrances). My fragrance, which I called Ile de Reve (which translates as Island Dream but doesn’t sound nearly as cheesy in French) included top notes of bergamot, heart notes of rose and frangipani and base notes of patchouli, vanilla and cedarwood.
Hot weather hair tip: I found the best way to keep cool was to pile my hair on top of my head. Bend over, gather your hair, twist and secure with a clip underneath your bun. Don’t bother washing your hair everyday (especially if you’re in and out of the pool) as this works best on damp or second-day locks.
The next day had us up early with takkies and Piz Buin Wet Skin SPF30 at the ready – we were heading to Piton de la Fournaise aka one of the most active volcanoes in the world (the last major eruption was back in 2007 and it traveled close to 3000m into the sea – destroying everything in it’s wake). After a steep climb, many windy roads and a number of scenery changes – Reunion has a ridiculous number of different eco-climates so the scenary changed between yodel-friendly alpine landscapes to terrifically tall pine forests to rock and fynbos a la Table Mountain.
Niko (our fab guide) asked us to close our eyes and three seconds later we arrived on Mars – well almost. Plaine des Sables is completely other-worldly, almost lunar-like. The brown scorry and rock formations stretch as far as the eye can see and while Raya and Amy were dreaming up the perfect fashion shoot to suit the location I ducked off to do a cartwheel (or three) to take in the immense space. Then it was on to Piton de la Fournaise, a real beauty and not at all what you expect when you think of a volcano (a black peak with angry, red hot lava, anyone?) this was a much quieter experience, in fact le Volcan (as the locals affectionately refer to it) was completely serene with a covering of cloud.
Hot weather sun tip: You know you need to apply liberally, but how much is that? A shot glass of sunscreen should cover your body and if you’re fair make sure it’s SPF30 or more.
A big thank you to Piz Buin, Legacy Lifestyle, Travel by Lifestyle, Lux* Resorts, Air Austral and the Reunion Island Tourism Board for making the trip possible.
Plus, thanks to Sunglass Hut, Havaianas and Billabong for the island-friendly gear.
Next stop, Mauritius…
For more beauty snaps from exotic locations, follow Margaux on Instagram @margauxknuppe
P.S. If you haven’t checked out Legacy Lifestyle, one of Africa’s leading loyalty programmes, which has over 250 really cool partners (think Becca, Havaianas and Moyo) make sure you do.