The Seychelles are a group of umpty-two islands in the Indian Ocean, just off the west coast of Africa (Africa is the big exploitable thing below Europe).

Originally the islands were claimed by the French, however in the late eighteenth century the British turned up with their warships to blast the French to buggery. The Seychelles were a strategically important centre for the slave trade, with thousands of slaves being kept on the island. The British technically abolished slavery in the Empire in 1807. However, the plantation owners in the Seychelles had any carrier pigeons bearing the news shot on sight and they managed to hang on grimly to their human possessions until 1835.

Consequently the people of the Seychelles, and the food, are a curious but tasty mixture of French, African, Indian and English.

The tiny capital of the Seychelles is on the main island of Mahe. It’s called Victoria, but you can bet it wasn’t the French that called it that. It has a clock tower identical to the one outside Victoria Station in London, although the London one is rubbish and runs four hours slow compared to the one in Mahe.

The shops in Victoria are not Oxford Street, Fifth Avenue or even Birmingham Bull Ring. Mostly they are tatty little shacks selling the essentials. Actually, it is just like Birmingham.

There are some shops selling tourist nonsense, but if you came on an expensive holiday to the Seychelles for shopping trips then you probably have more money than sense.

Victoria has also got a fish market. That’s worth a visit if you like looking at dead fish.

the seychelles mahe fish market

There’s quite a nice botanical gardens. If you’re not going to make it to the island of Praslin then these gardens may be your only chance to see the famous rudeness of the Coco De Mer. This is a large coconut that looks like a fanny. This is not an American fanny but an English one, which is a lot naughtier. Although I suppose that depends on what you like to get up to between the sheets.

The main bar, and perhaps the only one, is The Pirates Arms. The food is okay and it has a certain ambience. It’s the sort of place where you could imagine Ernest Hemingway sitting at a table, just watching the world go by. And then punching somebody’s lights out.

There’s an international airport on Mahe that is just about capable of taking Jumbo jets, although the odd one slides off the end of the runway and into the sea. So make sure that your life jacket is on when you land, despite the fight the cabin staff might put up.

If you think this is something to be concerned about, wait until you realise that there is only going to be one pilot driving your tiny little plane when you go island hopping. Make sure you ask him if he has any history of heart trouble before taking your seat. If he looks even slightly overweight you are within your rights to request a replacement.

For my other Seychelles travel guides click here.