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About Saint Denis

Saint-Denis is the capital city of Réunion Island, a French department in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar and southwest of Mauritius. It has a Creole soul in its French colonial style. Francophiles will feel at home, but with an upgrade of palm trees and hotter temperatures and so the perfect spot for holidays. Use the service of car hire in Saint-Denis on Réunion, as you plan your travel itinerary across the island. Most of the main attractions are outside the city, so car hire in Saint-Denis will most probably be only one of few stops here. We recommend you stay a day or two to explore this city of the multi-ethnic atmosphere.

Basic info and car hire in Saint Denis

Location: Saint-Denis, Réunion 

Population: 146,300

Official language: French

Currency: Euro (EUR)

Weather: Sainte Denis has a tropical monsoon climate with two seasons. From November to April there is a hot and humid wet season and from May to October a warm, less humid season.  The latter has temperatures from 20 to 25°C and the sea temperature rarely drops below 23°C. Réunion island also has many microclimates. The West coast is dry, whereas the East coast and the mountains are wetter.

Public holidays in Saint-Denis: Public holidays in Saint-Denis are the same as those in France. You can check the public holidays on Réunion at Public Holidays.

Internet coverage: When you’re using the car hire in Saint-Denis, Réunion for travelling around the place to famous tourist attractions, it is recommended that you have the internet to be able to see the real-time maps. Otherwise, many hotels offer wi-fi access, as do B&Bs, many cafes, restaurants, and most tourist offices, usually without charge. The connection is generally good.

French overseas departments like Réunion are an integral part of France, so EU/EEA roaming regulations apply if you are using a SIM card issued in an EEA country. But do check if Réunion is really included within the offered roaming countries.

Road conditions: The best way of travelling on Réunion is in your rental car. The most popular way is car hire in Saint-Denis. Four-wheel car is not necessary even if you drive inland. The road network on the island is excellent and very well signed. There is a direct road between the two biggest cities. Routes départementales, the names of which begin with the letter D (or RD), are local roads, many of them not for beginner drivers due to much confusing local traffic. Some mountain roads are very narrow and with sharp turns, so use your horn to be “seen”. Avoid driving at night, since some roads may not be lit.

Driving in Saint Denis

Car hire in Saint-Denis and driving around is easy due to the very good road network. Route des Tamarins is a 34km four-lane expressway that connects St-Paul to Étang-Salé and branches onto the existing RN1. It creates a direct route between the two biggest cities, St-Denis in the north and St-Pierre in the south. In 2012 they will open a new coastal road between Saint-Denis and La Possession. Avoid driving to Saint-Denis in the early morning (7 to 9 am) due to traffic jams. 

  • Age limits: You must be at least 18 to be driving on Réunion. Agencies for car hire in Saint-Denis may require you to be either 21 years old (sometimes 23) and held your license at least for a year.  
  • International Driving Permit: An international driving permit is required with your European driver’s license.
  • Additional papers: You always need a document of identification and you must have at least third-party insurance to drive on Reunion. If you are using the car hire in Saint-Denis, the agency may hand over an agreement to you, showing that you hired a car. 
  • Additional requirements: None.
  • Children in the car: Children under the age of twelve cannot travel in the front of a car and must be fitted into an age-appropriate restraint system in the rear. 
  • Driving side of the road: Right-Hand Side
  • Lights: The traffic light rules followed across the world are also applicable to those in Saint-Denis.
  • General speed limits: In built-up areas the speed limit is 50 km/h while on other roads, a speed of up to 90 km/h is permitted. On the highway speed limit is 110 km/h
  • Parking suggestions: You can find free parking almost everywhere, so you can park where locals park just avoid parking on narrow roads. Paid parking is rare, except maybe on tourist sights or on places where some local entrepreneurs set-up their own parking area.

What to see in Saint Denis

Saint-Denis is also known as the Town of Art and History. With its rich heritage is popular with lovers of culture and architecture. Its located on the shores of the Indian Ocean with many attractions along the north coast. You can explore some of the best Creole architecture, to religious sites from many cultures, too many adventure sports experiences. 

We have prepared a list of recommended highlights for your travel below.

Our favourite spots

Jardin de l’État

Historic Monument where you can enjoy a walk through the charming gardens where you can relax from the busy city streets, sit by the graceful ponds and enjoy in the shade of the exotic trees. Jardin de l’État lies near Rue de Paris and it was founded in the second half of 18th century as an acclimatization garden by the French Eat India Company. There is The Natural History Museum in the garden which houses the collection of fauna of the West Indian islands.

Use the public parking near the garden to park your rental car.

Rue du Maréchal-Leclerc

If you need some souvenirs or just like shopping head to Rue du Maréchal-Leclerc. Here you will find Petit and Grand Marchés, where people of different cultures sell their wares. This east to the west street is also a great representative of the island’s unique culture.  You can visit the mosque, the Shri Kali Kovil Kampal Tamil Temple and a Chinese Pagoda on the parallel street.


Barachois is the best place to start exploring Saint-Denis. It is a vast green seafront with cannons pointing out to the sea and the first part that was settled. It gives you a sense of the island history, nowadays it is a popular meeting place for locals and tourists with café terraces.

Léon-Dierx Museum

Léon-Dierx Museum, Saint-Denis’ museum of fine arts, is housed in the former Episcopal Palace on Rue de Paris. Even though it’s small, it offers some great names like Cézanne, Gauguin, Renoir and has an art collection in which Réunion art is also represented.

Hotels in Saint Denis

Villa Angelique

In the most famous street in Saint-Denis, Villa Angelique offers charming rooms and a shaded terrace where you can savor the local cuisine. With its traditional décor, it gives their clients an authentic experience of the city.

Mercure Créolia St-Denis La Réunion

If you want the perfect view from your pool chair, then this is the place to stay. The hotel offers a large outdoor terrace and serves great local Creole as well as French dishes in the hotel's restaurants, Le Kaloupilé.

Le Juliette Dodu

With very friendly and helpful staff Le Juliette Dodu, placed in a monument-protected building, features an outdoor pool and a library with seating areas. Particularly couples like this hotel best. Free parking available at the hotel.

Hôtel du centre

If your budget is tight you might like the Hôtel du centre offer basic but comfortable rooms with all the amenities you need. The location is great, only 5 minutes from the beach and 10 minutes drive from the Airport. Free parking available at the hotel.

Drive your rental car around Saint Denis

Using the car hire in Saint-Denis you can explore all the Réunion has to offer, besides the top spots in Saint-Denis. The road network and road conditions are good, so just take your rental car and go.

Where to eat, drink and party in Saint Denis

Restaurant La Fabrique

Nice small restaurant offering also lunch menus giving you the opportunity to break your day exploring Saint Dens. The food is refined, innovative and uses local ingredients.


Chez Pepe Dofe

The best way to appreciate a new location is through local cuisine. Chez Pepe Dofe offers an amazing choice of local delicacy which Is excellent and reasonably priced.


Coffee Shop de Bourbon

For having a delicious coffee and some sweet or salty snacks this is the perfect place. They offer breakfast and lunch; we recommend you don’t miss the waffles. The cafe is on two levels, but everything can be taken away as well.



If you want to pamper your taste buds with great seafood, you should visit L’artocarpe restaurant. Located next to the cathedral and so French you will feel like you are in Paris. Top the experience with yummy profiteroles and creme Brule.


Major events and festivals in Saint Denis

From among several events that happen in Saint-Denis and on the whole island, you’ll see some of the most cherished ones listed below.

Guava Festival

The festival takes place in Plaine-des-Palmistes in June.

Markets and street stalls are full of Guava in June on Réunion. This oval fruit, which is like lemon but less sharp, is the star of the Guava Festival in different products you can try.

Guan-Di Festival

You can join the festival from 25 – 28th August 2019 in Saint-Denis.

Chinese culture is in the spotlight as part of the Guan-Di Festival. You can enjoy the dragon dance, temple visit, different lectures, dance and martial arts and Chinese culinary delights.

Grand Raid

The race usually takes place 3rd weekend in October.

If you are more an adventurous type and like to be challenged join Le Grand Raid, one of the most exhausting races in the world. Competitors travel from the northern reaches of Réunion, through the mountainous interior, and finish in the south.

Divali Festival

Divali is celebrated in November.

The event is of Hindu origin and symbolizes the transition from darkness to light. As there is a large Indian population in Réunion, it is not surprising that Divali is held in high regard here and is celebrated with performances, feasts, and other cultural activities in the main cities, especially Saint-Denis.

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