The dry climate is especially favourable to the cultivation of lentils, which has become a tradition in Cilaos, the only village among the French overseas departments to cultivate it. For over a century, on steep terrain, people from Cilaos join forces to cultivate them partly by hand (hand sowing and flailing for a quarter of the crop). Restaurants and table d'hotes will serve them to garnish rougails or caris; you will enjoy one of the best authentic and tasty local products. Creamy, they are easy to cook and are considered excellent on the dietary plan. The only drawback, since most of the work is manual, is that the price is rather high (10 to 12 € per kilo). Note that, thanks to its popularity, lentils have even served for a time as a currency on this fertile land. Today, the town organizes the Festival of Lentils every year in October .
The Cilaos wine
When visiting Cilaos, you can not miss the stalls along the roads surrounding the village: the inhabitants will propose you some vin de Cilaos, traditionally produced by them since the mid-nineteenth century. At that time, going shopping down in St. Louis was a real expedition, that's why the first settlers decided to produce their own wine from the Isabelle grape, the only one grown at the time. Each family that had at least one vine produced their own wine. This beverage, of an almost purple color, is reminiscent of the Muscat and sweet wine, and is generally tasted as an aperitif.
Since 1998, other grape varieties (Malbec, Chenin and Pinot Noir) benefit from the climate of Cilaos and allow the production of red, rosé and white wines. Since 2004, the designation "Cilaos country wine" applies to wines produced at an altitude between 2000 and 4300 feet, making it the highest vineyard in France. The harvest of these twenty acres of vines, which takes place in January and February, during the risky hurricane season, makes Cilaos the first French vineyard to be harvested in the year.