Life in Reunion Island

Reunion Island is a French department. The island benefits from infrastructure identical to that of Northern Europe: road networks, health care, industries, shops, hotels and services … and all this in an exceptional living environment, that of an island in the Indian Ocean, surrounded by sea, mountains, volcanic landscapes and tropical forests.

The diversity of population, culture and tradition – often cited as an example – adds to its charm. As a foreigner it is very easy to blend in with the locals because of this magnificent cultural mix.

As a matter of fact, Reunion is a very peaceful island. National security threats are unheard of. Despite the diverse ethnic and cultural differences people live in peace and harmony. Crime rate is minimal compared to major cities in France and the emergency services are as efficient as any developed country.

Reunion benefits from a tropical climate softened by the breezes of the Indian Ocean. The sun shines down all year round, especially in the north, west and south of the island. The wide variety of microclimates in Reunion means that one can be soaking up the sunshine by the sea in the morning and be up taking in the cool mountain air in the afternoon, and all this without having to travel far to do so.

Compared to the northern hemisphere, the seasons are the other way round in the south. However, any notions of winter and summer are relative in the tropics. The year is divided up into two long periods: the warm and humid season, from November to April, and the fresher and drier season which runs from May to October.

The Austral Summer

The Austral summer reaches its peak in January and February, with daily temperatures well over 30° by the coast. Rain showers come in short, but heavy patches spells. This is also the season for tropical cyclones, which hit the island on average once or twice a year and generally last a few days. This time of year is when the lush vegetation and cascading waterfalls are at their most impressive.

The Austral Winter

The Austral Winter comes in July and August, with slightly fresher temperatures (around 24-25° by the Indian Ocean) – however, even at night the hardships of winter by the coast rarely drop lower than 20°! The water temperature in the lagoon varies around 22°.

Apart from one or two exceptions, the trees do not lose their leaves and plant species tend to flower at different periods throughout the year.

However, beware if you’re heading up into the mountains: the drop in temperature can come as a shock.


the two periods between these seasons (April – May and October – November) are particularly pleasant times to visit.

Temperature variations during the day, water temperature, and different climates

There is little difference between day and night temperatures, especially at sea level. However, as the day goes on, clouds tend to form in the mountains thus providing the vegetation with the necessary humidity. In order to make the most of the viewpoints and get clear blue skies, it’s best to get an early start.

Water temperature varies between 20 and 25° during the year, but the shallow waters of the lagoon are even warmer.

Between the east & the west: the eastern slopes of Reunion get the most rainfall whereas the west coast is much drier.

Between the mountains & down by the coast : at altitude the temperature can plummet to zero degrees and rarely climbs over 25°, even at the height of summer. Anywhere over 1800m, night frost is not uncommon in July and August. Near the highest peaks, sub zero temperatures are sometimes recorded.

• Average Temperature in St Denis (at sea level): From 24° (in August, the coldest month) to 30° (in February, the hottest month).

• Average Temperature in La Plaine-des-Palmistes (1 200 m) : From 17° (in August, during the day) to 24° (February).

Health is a great concern when it comes to living in foreign countries. There are three different systems in place at the university to help international students.

All the European students must apply for the European health card before arriving in Reunion Island. When you are here you can apply for a national health insurance number trough the university. With the health insurance number you can enjoy all the health benefits in France.

Students from non-EU countries can benefit from all the health benefits as European students as soon as they receive the health insurance number from the National Health Service.

For minor illnesses all students can pay a visit to the campus doctor. Outside working hours you can visit the emergency doctor near the campus. For emergencies you can always go to the local hospital or call emergency services. When visiting a specialist doctor you must book an appointment in advance. In the French system all international students must pay the doctors fee over the counter and the social health services refund them afterwards.

Roland Garros International Airport is the gateway to Reunion Island. There are a number of frequent direct flights from and to neighbouring countries for your convenience.

Our neighbouring island Mauritius is a well known holiday destination all around the world for its breathtaking beaches and luxurious Hotels. You can reach Reunion Island via the SSR International Airport (SSR: Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolan) in Mauritius by plane in less than 40 minutes and also you can catch frequent direct flights to various international destinations.

The transportation will be provided to all the international students from the university free of charge upon their arrival. The campus in Saint-Denis is just a 15 minute drive from the airport and the campus in Tampon is about an hour and a half away. The students who are going to the Campus in Tampon will be dropped off at the intercity bus terminal by the university staff in Saint-Denis and be picked up from the university staff in Tampon.

“Citalis” is the local transport service for Saint-Denis (The main city in Reunion Island) and “Cars Jaunes” for inter city travels around the island. There are three bus lines (Number 6, 7 and 10) run right in front of the campus every 10 minutes during the week. If you would like to visit different parts of the island during the week-end you can enjoy intercity bus service from the main bus terminal in Saint-Denis.

Students can apply for a student travel card to avoid paying each time when using public transport. This card allows you to access all the public transport services in Reunion Island. You can apply for the students travel card through the student services at the University of La Reunion. You can pay for the whole year or just one semester according to your need. The price for one semester is approximately 30 Euros and for one year is 50 Euros.

There are many local and international car rental companies in Reunion Island for your comfort. You can rent a basic car starting from 25 Euros per day or you can take a taxi as an exceptional choice.

If you would like to discover Reunion Island with your fellow students and staff members at the university there are many sightseeing tours all year around organised by SUV (The Department of Academic Life) and SUAPS (The Department of Physical Activities and Sports) for your pleasure.

Music is the beating heart of La Réunion’s culture. The younger generation has embraced the modern main stream music genres but the local music scene is dominated by “Maloya” and “Sega” beats. You can mingle with the locals while enjoying

  • Total Jazz (Jazz Music Festival, March)
  • Electropicales (Music Festival, May)
  • Sakifo (Music Festival, June)
  • La Fête de la musique (Musical Celebration, June)
  • Manapany Surf Festival (Music Festival, September)
  • Kaloobang (Music Festival, September)
  • Francofolies (Music Festival, September)
  • Kabarachois (Creole culture and music, one Saturday per month)
  • Jazz ô Barachois (Jazz music, one Saturday per month)
  • Tampon Jazz Métiss (Jazz Music Festival, December)

Reunion Island is a melting pot for cultures from all around the world. In a world with so many cultural, racial and religious conflicts Reunion Island is a benchmark for the future generations to make the world a better place. We invite you to join us and discover our local cultural events at

  • Nouvel An Chinois (Chinese New Year, February)
  • Fête de la Lanterne (Lantern Festival/Moon Festival, February/March)
  • Nouvel An Tamoul (Tamil New Year, April)
  • Festival Komidi (Theatre Festival, April)
  • Leu Tempo festival (Street Theatre Festival, May)
  • Guan Di Celebration (July)
  • Le Grand Boucan (Carnival, June)
  • Tam-Tam (Puppet Festival, September)
  • Zot Movies Festival (Film Festival, October
  • Dipavali (one of the most important Hindu holidays of the year – Deepavali, the Festival of Lights, November)
  • Total Danse (Contemporary Dance Festival, November)
  • Le festival du film de La Réunion (Film Festival, November)
  • Cyclone BD (Comics/Book Fair, December)
  • Fête du 20 décembre (Celebration of the abolition of slavery)

“Le grand raid” is “The sporting event” in the local sporting calendar. Every year in October more than 3000 international and local athletes compete during three days to cover 170km of gruelling foot paths from the south of the island to the north through the mountain tops to be the winner and a legend in Reunion Island.

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