The cirque in pictures

History of the cirque

Cilaos derives from the Malagasi word “Tsilaoso” , place that you do not leave. It used to be a shelter for “runaway slaves”. They found there a secure haven and , when the hunters of “black slaves” arrived, they would escape to the Piton des Neiges, the Dimitile or the Grand Benar.

After 1848 the “poor white settlers” naturally mixed with the former slaves , giving birth to the typical coloured population of the Highlands. During the slave rebellion of 1811 in Saint-Leu the conjurors were denounced by one of their own, the slave Figaro, who , as a reward, got a plot of land in Ilet-a-Corde.

History wants it that the first thermal springs were discovered in 1815 by Paulin Techer, a great hunter of goats, and more probably of ” black slaves”, from Saint-Louis. As son as 1939 these springs were used in a first water-cure establishment by Doctor Jean-Marie Mac-Auliffe who settles there in 1900. His daughter Angel teaches the female population of the cirque the art of lace, giving birth to the famous Cilaos Lace.

Until 1936, climbing to Cilaos is done by foot ( or by sedan chair for the luckier ones) through the perilous path of Cap Noir. Administered by Saint-Louis, Cilaos is given municipality status in 1965.