Afternoon on the Volcano
After lunch in Saint Pierre, we headed northeast back up the hill to La Plaine des Cafres to visit La Cité du Volcan, the volcano museum. It's newly renovated and they have some really interesting exhibits about the history of the island and its geological development. After a couple of hours there we followed the roads even higher, towards Piton de la Fournaise ("Peak of the Furnace"), the island's active volcano. The switchbacks keep going up and up; driving through clouds & fog, we reached the top where the landscape seemed to resemble the moon more than earth. Barren of trees and lacking much vegetation, the area is a stark contrast to the lush greenery of the rest of the island. The other difference you notice immediately is the drop in temperature. We stopped in a couple of places to hike a little and take some photos, and it was a good thing we brought jackets along. Pants and toques would have been welcomed as well! Up above 2300 metres elevation it certainly wasn't summer! Sure it was cold, but the air was so fresh and nice to breathe.
After freezing our butts off at the top it was nice to get into the car and warm up as we descended the mountain roads, continuing back north to Sainte Suzanne, where Sébastien, a skilled chef, was preparing us a nice, hot meal.