Many people think of the soft white sands and clear blue ocean when they plan a holiday in Seychelles - but there's another side to the islands that involves taking a trip back in time to when they were a hub of the spice trade.
From its lofty position above Anse Royale, on Mahé island, Le Jardin du Roi is a historic spice garden, which has evolved on the site of a renovated plantation. Vanilla, cinnamon, citronella, nutmeg and a variety of other plants are grown in the beautiful, tranquil garden on the south-east coast of the island.
Visitors can enjoy the aromas and scenery as they wander the gardens, learning about Seychelles' historic spice trade at the museum. There's also a chance to see giant tortoises, enjoy a guided hike and stop for lunch at the restaurant.
Nature walks are marked out so that visitors can enjoy them freely at their own pace if they don't want to book a guided tour. Before you leave, you can buy some spices, home-made jams and marmalade from the gift shop to enjoy at home later.
Located in the hills, 2km above Anse Royale, the lush spice garden is in existence thanks to French spice entrepreneur Pierre Poivre, a Lyon-born horticulturist and missionary, who became administrator of several islands in the Indian Ocean in the 1760s.
He instructed Monsieur Gillot, a French official appointed by the government, that work should begin on the garden in the early 1770s, drawing up a plan of his vision and describing a "gentle hill leading to a well-wooded platter". He stated he hoped the work would be completed by July 1772.
According to national archive documents, dated 30th January 1772, when Monsieur Gillot was unable to complete the garden due to a "lack of time", he passed on the task to his colleague, Jean-Charles de Launay.
Today, Le Jardin du Roi is one of Seychelles' most popular tourist attractions, a mature, fragrant haven for lovers of nature, comprising 35 acres of orchards combined with forest areas. The museum is located in the former planter's house and the restaurant offers exhilarating views down to the coast while dining on the finest Creole food.
There is an à la carte menu and also a fixed menu, with a special “Plantation Lunch” served on a Sunday. The food is flavoured using the plantation's own spices and ice-creams and delicious drinks are also on the menu.
Le Jardin du Roi is located 13 miles south of Victoria and can be accessed via a road that starts from Mahé's main route. It's a haven for nature lovers, botanists and for anyone who enjoys spending some tranquil time in a beautiful environment. Le Jardin du Roi is open daily and according to many positive reviews on Trip Advisor, it's well worth a visit.
Few locations in the world are more romantic and secluded than Jardin du Roi and for couples looking to book their honeymoon in Seychelles, it's a 'must visit' destination.