“ Colonial mansion turned into museum in Moka, Mauritius. „
La Maison Eureka is an brilliant example of an old colonial French Mansion in Moka, Mauritius.
Set in 25 acres of lush gardens the house was built in 1812 and subsequently sold on to several owners over the years. Its current owners have opened it up to the public to show the way the affluent occupants lived in those days. It is like a living museum and one can imagine taking drinks or afternoon tea on the veranda.
Moka is quite an affluent area on the plains Wilhelm's of Mauritius where large houses were built by affluent businessmen and entrepreneurs below the back drop of the Ory Mountain.
The surrounding grounds are quite extensive and lush with tropical flora and fauna that lead down to a ravine with accompanying waterfalls and cascades falling into the river Moka. The pathway down is quite a steep and muddy pathway and needs decent walking shoes in order to reach the bottom in safety. I would recommend you use insect repellent if you intend walking down the ravine and to the river as there are a lot of mosquitoes flying around who would love feed off you.
The grounds are very well tended with a wide variety of unusual trees and shrubs there are also fruit trees such as longan, Papaya and banana trees dotted around grounds and the ravine. In front of the great mansion there is a lawned area and rose garden in the shape of a heart.
Within the grounds there is a visitor's lodge with an old swimming pool which looks as if it is from the 2nd world war period. There is also a light and airy billiard room which is built as a pavilion in the grounds of the visitors lodge.
Entrance to the house is through the back where the servants quarters have been turned into gift shops. The servants referred to the Mansion as the big box. There are toilet facilities here and this is where you obtain tickets for entry. You can have a guided tour of the house or do it yourself tour.
At the back of the house there is still a period working kitchen where foods are still prepared on old wood burning stoves. In one area of the kitchen there is a wooden stove with irons on the hotplate where the laundry would have been ironed with pristine creases pressed in them by the heated irons.
There is a small veranda at the rear where you can get a drink or sometimes lunch if there are no other corporate bookings with a selection of Creole cooked meals such as curry of either Beef chicken or fish or one of the national common dishes of rougaille which is a sauce of tomatoes, garlic, thyme and sometimes chillies for those who prefer it with a slight bang!
We entered the rear of the house from the veranda into what is a semi music room. In the room which is fairly dark there is a very old piano in the corner and one single bed. There are the remains of the original wall paper on the walls which is a very dark and gloomy brown colour. There were pictures waiting to be rehung around the bottom of the walls.
Working forward you come into the bathroom. In the bathroom there is a bath/ shower operated by a chain with a large shower head over the bath. In the corner there is a commode with a potty or po as it was called. The commode was wooden with a lid which once used would be closed after which the servants would whisk away for it to be deposited elsewhere away from the house. There is a wooden bidet and wash stand and against one wall a full length marble bath carved out of a single block of whitish marble. From the bathroom door you can see right through to the other end of the house.
Walking through to the next room you are now standing in the master bedroom. There over the bed are Christian ornaments and a crucifix. The bed has a bed tray placed on the middle of the bed. Although this was supposed to be a double bed it would have been quite cosy as it was rather on the small side! Inside this room there was also a metal swinging cot. The walls were decorated with old family photos.
The next room is the central living room which contains antique furniture, carpets, bookcases and porcelain. Obviously the furniture looks like it has seen better days but is still functional. The wooden furniture is very dark but ornately carved. One can sense the feeling of those lucky enough to live in such grandeur waiting for dinner to be announced by a large gong by the dining room.
The dining room is also grand but quite dark inside with very dark furniture. To the sides of dining room walls are display cabinets which contained porcelain and glassware. There are also serving stands where food would have been served from tureens by the servants. The table is laid ready for dinner with nice china and glassware.
Along the whole front of the house is a veranda which offered some protection from the heat and rain. It is quiet and peaceful and overlooks the lawns and rose garden. Dinner would sometimes be taken on the veranda. There is a small veranda to the side of the dining room where one could either take coffee or retire to the next room which would have been the music room with a grand piano and very old furniture but more comfortable furniture contained in this room.
The whole house is made of wood and there are reputed to be 109 doors in the building alone. The types of wood used include Mahogany, ebony and rosewood which will give you an indication of how dark some of the rooms are. All the flooring is wood which would be much easier to keep clean. There is some old wallpaper still hanging on the walls which would have been handmade and looks to be in fair condition taking into account how old it is.
After the music room is a central staircase which you can go up to the first floor. Upstairs is mainly used to store old furniture but it looks bright and airy due to the many windows along the roof area and although it looks bright and airy I should imagine it got quite hot up here in the summer months.
Overall it is well worth a visit to Maison Eureka to get a sense of how the early European settlers lived in Mauritius and their standard of living was quite luxurious for the time compared to how the locals lived. There are many such houses still dotted around Mauritius but none quite as grand as this house which is probably one of the largest colonial private houses of the time. It is being maintained and restored to its former glory and is a beautiful keep sake and reminder of colonialism in the former colony.
I would thoroughly recommend a visit to Maison Eureka if only to help pay to maintain and preserve this beautiful house which has been turned into an historical museum by its present owner.
The house is open every day from approximately 09:00 to 17:30 although closes at 15:30 on Sundays.
The Address is :
The Creole House Eureka,
It is poorly sign posted but if you ask one of the locals they will be able to tell you where it is. My other criticism is that there is no information leaflet available to help you explore the property and grounds. In order to encourage visitors it needs to be advertised more.