On my return from Praslin, I decided to stay in Victoria City. Having arrived a week prior, my adventure unfolded by first exploring the beautiful islands of Praslin and La Digue, before delving into the splendors of Mahé Island and the tranquil city of Victoria.
Located on the northeastern coast of Mahé Island, Victoria stands as the lively capital of the Seychelles—an archipelago boasting 115 islands strewn across the Indian Ocean. Positioned north of Madagascar, it rests approximately 1,600 km (994 mi) east of Kenya in the vast Indian Ocean.
During my week-long stay in Victoria, I rented a small car to explore the entire island of Mahé. Driving around Mahé allowed me to not only visit all the beaches but also drive on the thin winding roads on the hills, which was an experience in itself. Despite this quaint little town having only two traffic signals and about two dozen streets, I still managed to get stuck in a one-lane traffic jam during rush hour on a road leading outside the city center.
The city was initially settled in 1778 by French colonists and was called L’Etablissement. In 1841, it was renamed Victoria, after Queen Victoria, when it became the seat of the British colonial government. Arab navigators and sailors from the region knew about Seychelles for many centuries. However, the first recorded landing was by the crew of the English East India Company ship Ascension, which arrived in Seychelles in January 1609. The islands were claimed by France in 1756, but the first settlers did not arrive until August 1770.
Victoria City is situated on Mahé Island, which is 4 miles (6 km) wide and 16 miles (26 km) long. The island reveals a landscape dominated by granite and crowned with mountains. Morne Seychellois, the island’s tallest peak at 2,969 feet, stands proudly as part of the national park that shares its name.
Sir Selwyn-Clarke Market
Walking among people and observing their daily routines is something I enjoy doing. The heartbeat of Victoria, the Sir Selwyn-Clarke Market, also known as Victoria Market, is a lively mosaic of Seychellois life. Nestled in the capital since 1840, this bustling market, named after a French governor, offers a kaleidoscope of colors and flavors.
The market, open from early morning to late afternoon on weekdays, offers an immersive experience of Victoria’s daily life.
Step into the market in the early morning to witness a lively spectacle—the fishmongers proudly showcasing a mixed array of seafood. Saturdays are when the market hits its crescendo, buzzing with life, while Sundays provide a tranquil pause. For culinary enthusiasts, the Sir Selwyn-Clarke Market is a haven. Fishmongers present an oceanic selection, including grouper, marlin, tuna, parrotfish, kingfish, and red snapper. You can seek their advice on filleting and cooking these marine delights.
As you wander through, let the tales unfold—locals engaged in conversations, a vegetable seller sharing his expertise with a customer. The market’s charm lies not just in its offerings but in the stories that linger within its vibrant confines. It isn’t merely a place to shop; it’s a place of sensory delights. From the fishmongers’ fresh catches to stalls adorned with colorful spices and herbs, each corner teems with life.
The market also offers a variety of fresh produce – from vegetables to exotic fruits, including golden apples, custard apples, passion fruit, jackfruit, coconuts, soursop, breadfruit, mangoes, papaya, star fruit, passion fruit, bananas, guava, and what not. It’s a sensory journey through Seychelles’ rich agricultural landscape.
She Sells Seashells in Victoria, Seychelles
Ascending the market’s stairs reveals a treasure trove of souvenirs, including the iconic Coco De Mer, the symbol of Seychelles. Venturing upstairs reveals unique finds and local art, turning your visit into a discovery of Seychellois culture. You can embrace the local arts and crafts scene with colorful textiles, wooden art pieces, and coconut shells. These make for unique souvenirs, ensuring your memories of Seychelles linger.
Sir Selwyn-Clarke Market transcends the ordinary with its vivacious charm. Immerse yourself in this Seychellois spectacle and let the market’s vibrancy add a sparkle to your day.
Mahé Island hosts nearly 90 percent of Seychelles’ population, predominantly centered in and around Victoria. The people of Seychelles are known as Seychellois and are a unique blend of Créole, Indian, Chinese, French, and British ancestry. Most of the population, however, is of East African and Malagasy origin and is referred to as Créole (over 70% of the entire population). The main languages spoken here are French, English, and Créole.
Victoria is the largest city in Seychelles with a population of over 26,000 inhabitants, despite being the smallest African capital.
Just a few kilometers outside Victoria you come across Eden Island. It is an artificial island built on the reclaimed coral reef and is home to a luxury residential development. During the 2000s, the Seychelles government partnered with Dubai funds to create the Mahe Port Islands. Eden Island is one of these beautiful islands and boasts various protected bays and beaches, as well as a small port and yacht marina.
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