40th (Ruby) Wedding Anniversary Cruise
Guadeloupe - Caribbean
DAY 12 - 16/2/18 Landed Pointe-a-Pitre & Visited Deshaies, Guadeloupe, Windward Islands, West Indies
It was our 40th Wedding Anniversary treat, what you might call our Ruby cruise! We loved Guadeloupe, landing in Pointe-A-Pitre, which looked a little run down, we did the "Death in Paradise" tour to Deshaies including the fabulous Jardin Botanique , via Saint Rose on Basse Terre , it is the Butterfly island and this is on the left wing. We saw the church and what doubles as the Police station in the crime drama and had a drink in Catherines bar (see picture above). We also got a glimpse of the beach where they set up and remove the house where Harry the CGI stays during filming. Duane loves the island so much , as we do, he bought a house there. The Botanic gardens were spectacular. It is a french colony and we loved it so much we would like to return. If you would like to read the detailed BLOG of the trip including the Captains log please CLICK HERE
So French, So Beautiful.....
Your Guide to Guadeloupe
This ‘butterfly’ settled on the Caribbean Sea centuries ago and belying the general reputation of the species, it has survived tribulations that would have destroyed the more fragile of its kind. Guadeloupe is actually two islands joined by a bridge that crosses the Riviere Salee hence its ‘butterfly’ appearance.
Golden beaches rimmed with coconut palms, crysta blue seas, and a feeling that all is exotic and unusual sums up Guadeloupe. This French island has been called the “Emerald Island” for its incredible flora of a thousand tropical scents, or “Butterfly Island” as its shape resembles a butterfly with outspread wings.
The two ‘butterfly wings’, Basse-Terre and Grande- Terre, are separated by a narrow channel and connected by a bridge.
Basse-Terre, regardless of any logic that its name might imply, is a mountainous island reaching a maximum height of 1,467 m (4,813 ft) at Mount Soufriere. It rains more often here than on Grande- Terre, however this is the region of tropical flora, with iush greens, waterfalls, banana fields and volcanic craters. Grande-Terre, home of sugar cane, windmills and white beaches with clear blue waters protected by coral reefs, is much flatter than its neighbour. Most of the facilities, including Pointe-a- Pitre, are here.
Christopher Columbus landed on the eastern side of Basse-Terre on 4 November 1493 during his second voyage to the New World. He named the island
“Santa Maria de Guadalupe de Estremadura” either in thanks for the saint's protection during a storm on his first voyage or to fulfil a promise made to the monks of the Spanish monastery of that name. The name “Guadeloupe” is derived from the Arabic meaning “The River of Love”. The then residents, Carib Indians, called it Karukera - “Isle of Beautiful Waters”.
The Spanish made half-hearted attempts to settle on the island; the Caribs made strenuous, and successful efforts to prevent them. However, the French were less easily discouraged and in 1635 some 500 colonists arrived from France. After initial problems, the Caribs were defeated and African slaves were introduced to work in the sugar plantations. In 1674 Guadeloupe was formally annexed by France.
The British also wanted the island and even took control of it in 1759 for a few years. Later in the 18th century, the French Revolution reached the Caribbean. The British supported the Royalists against the revolutionaries and, in 1794, again ruled the island. The notorious Committee of Public Safety in Paris sent Victor Hugues and a small army
to sort it all out. The British were defeated, and the guillotine did a thriving business in Pointe-a-Pitre where many aristocrats were executed. Others fled into the hills, where their descendants still live today.
Hugues abolished slavery in 1794, but Napoleon was clearly not impressed and not only sacked him, but also reintroduced slavery in 1802. The British continued to dispute the ownership of Guadeloupe and took the island again in 1810. However, the Treaty of Paris in 1815 gave Guadeloupe to France.
In 1848, thanks to the efforts of Victor Schoelcher, the 93,000 slaves were freed. To replace them, the plantation owners turned to indentured workers from India.
n 1946 Guadeloupe became a department of France and in 1974 Guadeloupe and the Islands of Saint-Martin, Saint-Barthelemy (St Barts), La Desirade, Marie-Galante and Les Saintes were constituted as a region of France. On 15th July 2007 the island communes of Saint-Martin and Saint-Barthelemy (St Barts) were officially detatched from Guadeloupe and became two separate French overseas collectivities.
Although the city of Basse-Terre is the capital, Pointe- a-Pitre is the largest town, the dominant commercial centre and the chief port of Guadeloupe. Its name is derived from Pieter, a Dutch fisherman who came to Guadeloupe after being expelled from Brazil by the Portuguese in the 17th century. Pieter’s Point soon became Pointe-a-Pitre, although it was not until 1759 that the British improved the natural harbour and a town was founded. Today, about 17,500 people live in the town which is a mixture of old colonial buildings, high-rise apartments, small typical Caribbean houses and an industrial area.
Pointe-a-Pitre has survived several natural disasters in the last 150 years. An earthquake in 1843 wrecked much of the town; the 1899 fire destroyed one-third of it, and hurricanes in 1928 and 1989 did extensive damage.
Everything worth seeing is only a short walk from the Place de la Victoire. The various street markets - around the harbour and slightly further inland at the junction of rues Peynier and Frebault - are particularly lively in the morning.
Ferries leave from the old port (La Darse) to the islands of Marie-Galante and Les Saintes. Buses
to Gosier, the island’s main resort, leave from the quayside.
Old warehouses have been transformed into a modern complex - named after the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1960 - of shops, restaurants and a tourist information booth.
Place de la Victoire
This garden square, bordered by colonialstyle houses with balconies and shutters, is the hub of the town. The royal palms and sandbox trees were planted by Victor Hugues the day after his victory over the British in 1794. Shortly afterwards, Hugues put a guillotine in the square and possibly as many as 500 aristocrats were executed. The main tourist office is in the southwest corner - it is a good example of French colonial architecture.
A small museum in an ornate colonial building on rue Peynier is dedicated to the Frenchman, Victor Schoelcher who was responsible for slavery being abolished in the French West Indies in 1848. It contains some of his persona! belongings and exhibits showing his life and work. Open weekdays 9.00am-5.00pm. Musee St-John-Perse
Opened in 1987 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of the poet Alexis Leger (better known
as St John Perse). This museum contains some of the poet’s personal possessions, photographs and a complete collection of his poetry. This beautiful building is well worth a visit as it is a rare example of 19th-century colonial architecture. The museum at 9 Rue de Nozieres, is open weekdays from 9.00am- 5.00pm and from 8.30am-12.30pm on Saturdays.
Cathedrale de St-Pierre et St-Paul
The cathedral in Place Gourbeyre (near the main shopping area) was built In 1807. It is often called the “Iron Cathedral” because it is reinforced with iron ribs to withstand hurricanes and earthquakes. Apart from the rather curious pink-coloured exterior, the beautifully-coloured stained glass windows are the main attraction.
Aquarium de la Guadeloupe
Located in Place Creole at Bas-du-Fort, this very highly-rated aquarium is the largest in the Caribbean. A symphony of over 700 tropica! parrot- fish, lion fish, chatrous and sharks live together in harmony in a silent, dream-like world. Some 3km (2 miles) from the town centre, it is open daily from 9.00am-6.30pm.
Fort Fleur d’Epee
Slightly further away from Pointe-a-Pitre, In the same direction, are the well-preserved ruins of a 19th century fort at Gosier. Perhaps the main attraction is the view across the bay and, if clear, of the islands of Marie-Galante and Les Saintes.
This is an ideal place for cyclists and devotees of beaches and watersports. A complete tour involves driving about 130 km (80 miles) on very reasonable roads.
The main resort centre of Guadeloupe - with hotels, restaurants and beaches - is only 8 km (5 miles) from Pointe-a-Pitre.
Ste-Anne and St Franqois
Continuing along the south coast and through the sugarcane fields, Ste-Anne is the next place of any real size. The main square, Place Schoelcher, has a statue of the man responsible for the ending of slavery in 1848. Further along the south coast, St- Franqois is another resort and also a fishing village. Lovely white sand beaches, (Raiisins Clairs and La Gourde), Creole and French restaurants, as well as a Hindu cemetery and an 18th century church are the main attractions.
Mountainous waves often pound the jagged rocks at the eastern tip of the island where the Atlantic and Caribbean meet. Tarare Beach is for naturists, but this part of Grande-Terre is not safe for swimming.
Moule and the Extreme North
The former capital of Guadeloupe is still one of the island’s largest towns.
its 18th century neo-classical church is classified as an historical monument. Also worth seeing is a small fort on the harbour. In nearby La Rosette is an archaeological museum. The northern coastline consists of rocky headlands (Pointe de la Grand Vigie) with good views as far as Antigua and Montserrat, and beaches in the sheltered bays (Anse de Souffleur).
The hills and valleys of the central region are the home of the Blancs Matignon - the white-skinned, fair-haired people - who are believed to be the descendants of not only those aristocrats who fled to the hills during the French Revolution, but also of a small minority of plantation owners who retreated to this area after the abolition of slavery. Basse-Terre
Basse-Terre is quite different - spectacular scenery, mountains, waterfalls, tropical rainforests and the place for hikers. Drivers will find the hilly and steep roads more demanding. A tour of the more interesting southern half involves a trip from Pointe- a-Pitre of about 145 km (90 miles).
Route de la Traversee
The cross-country road from east to west passes through the rainforest and the Parc Naturel - a lush, verdant wonderland covering around 74,000 acres. A hundred and ninety miles of marked paths lead through the natural flora and picturesque locations of this exotic sanctuary. Routes for hikers are displayed at the Maison de la Foret, where there is an information bureau and a slide show (Open from 10.00am-5.00pm). Tucked away in the park are picnic areas and small museums
covering information on the Park. You may even spot the racoon (the Park’s mascot). It is advisable to wear sturdy shoes and take a waterproof jacket if you decide to walk in the Park. The Cascade aux Ecrevisses is a natural waterfall, and there are panoramic views from the lookout on Les Deux Mamelles and from the top of Morne-a- Louis.
Also worth visiting is the Parc Zoologique (zoo and botanical gardens).
The Park is situated on the Route de la Traversee. Open from 9.00am-4.30pm daily.
Basse-Terre and the South Coast
Worth seeing in the capital city (population 12,000) are the cathedral, the Palais de Justice, the old colonial houses and Fort Sainte-Charles. At an Archaeological Park at Trois-Rivieres, are the Roches Gravees - strange petroglyphs carved on the rocks by the native Indians some 1,600 years ago.
Near Capesterere-Belle-Eau is the impressive Allee Dumanoir, a road lined by century-old royal palm trees. To the north is an important Hindu temple and in the next village, Ste-Marie, a small bust of Columbus commemorates his landing here in 1493.
Also of interest, but involving detours from the coastal road, are Mount Soufriere (1,316 m 14,318 ft)a dormant, but not extinct, volcano and the Carbet Falls. The volcano, which threatened to erupt in 1975, cannot be climbed in the available time, but the three impressive cascades of the Carbet Falls are within walking distance. It takes about two hours to reach the 125 m (410 ft) high First Fall and only 30 minutes to reach the lower Second Fall.
Boulevard Faidherbe, a few blocks inland from the Place de la Victoire and the Cathedral. Stamps and also available from souvenir shops and tabacs. Airmail letters take about a week to reach Europe.
Banks are open weekdays 8.00am-Noon and 2.00pm-4.00pm. (From June to September they are usually open from 7.30am-3.30pm).
The unit of currency is the euro (€).
Notes: €5,10, 20,50,100,200 and 500 Coins: 1, 2, 5,10, 20 and 50 cents; €1 and 2
Hotels, larger restaurants and car-rental agencies will accept Visa, American Express and MasterCard.
The main office is at 5 Square de la Banque. Tel. 82 09 30 English is spoken and useful leaflets include suggested tours of the island by car. In addition, maps, details of walks and hikes in the Parc Naturel, and “Boujour Guadeloupe” (tourist booklet) are all of interest.
The countless beaches which ring these islands are among the most beautiful in the Caribbean. Turquoise waters, honey coloured sand and coconut palms swaying gently in the breeze conjure up images of a tropical paradise.
Grand-Terre has a number of beautiful beaches of white sand, especially around Cosier, a short taxi ride from Pointe-a-Pitre. The Novotel Fleur d’Epee and La Creole Beach may be happy for non residents to use their changing facilities, beach chairs and towels for a small fee. Ilet du Cosier is a nudist beach.
Public beaches are free, but have limited facilities. There are several around Gosier and along the south coast of Grande-Terre from Ste-Anne to Pointe-des- Chateaux. One of the best is the reef-protected Caravelle Beach, some 14 km (9 miles) from Cosier, which is a popular place for snorkelling. Topless bathing is common on all beaches.
Most beach-side hotels at Cosier rent equipment for windsurfing, body surfing and snorkeliing. Water skiing is available on the beaches of the Creole Beach and Meridien Hotels.
Scuba diving is a popular activity, especially at Pigeon Island (Ilet Pigeon) and Cousteau Reserve on the west coast of Basse-Terre, which Jacques Cousteau ranked as one of the world’s ten best diving spots.
Marked trails lead through the tropical rainforest of the Parc Naturel and around Mount Soufriere, both of which are on Basse-Terre. Waterfalls, dense forests, steaming fumaroles and unusual birds can all be seen. There are hikes for all levels and tastes - some can be walked along, but a guide is strongly recommended if attempting anything ambitious - enquire at the Tourist Office or In the Park Bureaux.
St Francois International Coif Course, an 18-hole course designed by Robert Trent Jones.
Tel. 88 41 ST.
Windsurfing and waterskiing are possible on an adjacent lagoon.
Guadeloupe, being French, has always been a noted centre of culinary expertise. Plenty of real Creole food, renowned for its spicy flavour, is on loca menus, including such island specialities as stuffed crab, stewed conch, roast wild goat, boudin creole (a pork sausage), jugged rabbit, fresh fish (for example red snapper in a passionfruit sauce) and seafood. While waiting for a substantial meal to arrive, try the appetisers known as accras, crispy fritters or crusty croquettes made of codfish or malanga roots. To complete the meal, the ice creams are truly mouthwatering and include an array of different tropical fruit flavours.
Rum punches are also extremely popular before, or after, a meal. The most popular is Ti Punch, a mixture of rum, sugarcane syrup and a dash of lime juice; Planteurs are rum with fruit juice and the everpopular Pina Colada consists of rum with cream of coconut, pineapple juice and crushed ice. Most restaurants carry a range of beers and French wines. Naturally, there are also plenty of fruit drinks, colas and minerals waters.
It is advisable to go to a reputable company (as many of the smaller local agencies are perfectly illegal) and take out the CDW additional insurance.
Fares, theoretically, are regulated by the Government, but agree on the price before starting the journey. The taxi stand is at the Place de la Victoire.
Buses run from Pointe-a-Pitre to almost anywhere in Guadeloupe; fares are inexpensive, but the bus system is infrequent and can be unreliable.
For Grande-Terre, buses leave from La Darse (by the Place de la Victoire): for Basse-Terre, a 15-minute walk will take you to the Care Routiere (bus station) de Bergevin.
Local buses run from 5.00am. There are no stops, you have to flag the bus down on the road.
Travelling by bus is a good way to meet the locals, but they don’t always provide service to the touristic sites.
Bicycles can be rented at several places around the Place de la Victoire.
Occasional services run to the islands of Marie- Galante (1 hour trip) and tes Saintes (45 minutes)