On the western side of La Digue, in the L'Union village there is the L'Union Estate Park. This land was owned by a rich planter, so the estate was built in the colonial style and now it is the central and the biggest building on the island belonging to France Albert René, the former President of the Seychelles. The house attracts tourists who are curious to see where most scenes of “Goodbye Emmanuelle!” were filmed.
The route and the walk
L'Union Estate Park is a national reserve. The entrance ticket costs 100 rupees per person and is valid for the whole day. There is a wooden ticket office at the park entrance. The park area is fenced. Of course, you can try a chance and enter the park by water during the low tide. But we did not, and recommend you to buy a ticket.
Not far from the Emmanuel’s House there is one of the most contrast attractions in the park - a huge mountain formed over 75 million years ago by the magma from the active volcano. Near the granite boulders there is a paddock with rare Aldabra giant land tortoises. They are gross and imperturbable, never in a hurry, their age of life is about 150 years and they weigh over 250 kg. You can feed and pat them, the tortoises are very slow and not dangerous, unless you poke your fingers into their mouths.
Walking in the park you never get tired to enjoy the wonderful views! Pay attention to the vanilla plantation. French colonists brought vanilla to the island, and for a while the business flourished in spite of complexity of its growing and treatment. Then vanillin was invented. They still grow vanilla, but the production has got reduced dramatically. You can purchase true vanilla at the local souvenir shops.
The coconut plantation is huge and goes across the bigger part of the park. Coconut palms were imported by Europeans two centuries ago, and now coconuts are used in copra manufacturing and for coconut oil extraction.
Copra (dried coconut kernel) is used in coconut oil and chips production. Here you can buy this oil as a souvenir or a gift. Coconut oil is like a magic elixir, the best remedy for hair and skin. The use and effect of the product is undeniable: oil nourishes and moisturizes the skin, has anti-bacterial and anti-aging effect. Also, coconut oil is good to apply on the skin before sunbathe, it helps to get smooth and beautiful tan. As for cooking, coconut oil improves digestion, detoxifies and adds nice flavor to the dishes. The Creole cuisine uses coconut milk a lot in sauces, desserts and main dishes.
There is the factory under a canopy, and a huge pile of coconuts nearby. The factory keeps the old traditions: oil is squeezed from coconut kernels with the help of an harnessed oxen. So, it is not a real factory but rather a tourists’ attraction.
Source d'Argent Beach
In L'Union Estate Park there is the world famous beach - Source d'Argent. Its length with small bays is about 1 km. Ancient granite boulders and the turquoise water make this place unforgettable. There are practically no surf: the reef extinguishes the ocean waves. The beach is very picturesque, even an inexperienced photographer can take stunning pictures here.
It is better to visit the beach early in the morning, because during the day it gets crowded, especially in the high season from May to October. We got to Source d'Argent at noon, there were lots of tourists, so we took pictures of the adjacent bays only.
Source d'Argent Beach is perfect for snorkeling, water is crystal clear and multicolored exotic fishes literally haunt swimmers amidst corals. Wear rubber slippers to protect your feet against corals.
Walking along the Source d'Argent bay for a kilometer or so you get in a special place: every rock or tree is unique and magnificent. Nature has created a fascinating show and you become a part of it. We recommend you to read about the other beaches of La Digue.