Port Louis was already in use as a harbor in 1638. On the 20th September 1715, Guillaume Dufresne d’Arsel took possession of the island in the name of the King of France. A first batch of 16 Frenchmen and some slaves under the command of Julien Le Toullec du Rongouet were sent off from the Isle of Bourbon (currently Reunion Island). On the 24 December 1721, they landed from the Courrier de Bourbon in Port North-West, the former name for Port Louis. A bigger group of 200 people on board the Atalante and the frigate Diane, sailing from France, set foot in April 1722, with governor Denis Denyon at their head. The latter gave the name of Port Louis to the North-West Port in honour of King Louis XV. The first settlers lived in primitive huts covered with palm leaves built an a site known today as Company’s Garden. Not far from there, where the Government House is now situated, stood the head- quarters of the East India Company, which the King of France had entrusted with the administration of the island.
In 1735, under French government, it became the administrative center of Mauritius and a major re-provisioning halt for French ships during their passage between Asia and Europe, around the Cape of Good Hope. The French governor at that time, Bertrand-François Mahé de Labourdonnais, contributed to the development of the city. Since Port Louis was relatively well-protected from strong winds during cyclones by the Moka Mountain Range, Port Louis was selected to house both the main harbor and fort for the island. Value of the port continued during the British occupation of the island during the Napoleonic Wars (1800–1815), and helped Britain control the Indian Ocean. However, port calls of ships fell drastically following the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. Activity in the port increased during the seven-year closure of the Suez Canal (starting in 1967). Modernization of the port in the late 1970s has helped it maintain its role as the central point for all imports and exports from Mauritius.