Guadeloupe

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Capital Basse-Terre
Currency Euro (EUR)
Population 452,776 (July 2006 est.)
Country code +590
Time zone UTC-4

Guadeloupe, known as Gwadloup in the local creole, and sometimes known as the Butterfly Island (French: I'ile Papillon) on account of the shape of two of its major islands, is a group of islands in the eastern Caribbean, and is a French overseas department. It is located southeast of Puerto Rico.

Map of Guadeloupe

Islands[edit]

  • Basse Terre: green and lush vegetation, mountainous with a sulphuric volcano.
  • Grande Terre: flat and dry with a lot of beaches, some of them very touristic.
  • Marie Galante: the biggest island out of mainland Guadeloupe.
  • Les Saintes: composed of Terre de Haut and Terre de Bas, one of the most beautiful bays.
  • La Désirade: dry and cliffy.
  • Petite Terre: uninhabited and untamed.

Cities[edit]

Grande Terre[edit]

  • Pointe-à-Pitre: with its suburbs, it is the economic capital of Guadeloupe
  • Gosier: maybe one of the most interesting places of Guadeloupe to enjoy nightlife. (You can enter most nightclubs with proper clothes, that is, no sneakers, no shorts)
  • St François if you go at the eastern point of Guadeloupe, you will reach La Pointe des Chateaux, a scenery made of sand and rocks which have vaguely the shape of a castle. From there, you can look up at the islands La Désirade, Petite Terre, Marie Galante, Les Saintes, La Dominique but also have a perfect view of the islands Grande Terre and far away Basse Terre.
  • St Anne a very nice but also very touristy city and beach (maybe the tourists primary area of Guadeloupe). L'Americano, bd Georges Mandel, 0590 88 38 99: bar/restaurant offers free salsa courses on Saturdays and live performances some days. You will find all kind of bars. You can try Club Med, 0590 85 49 50 fax: 0590 85 49 59 (for instance, others resort may propose this formula too) for a one day all inclusive (breakfast, buffet, bars, drinks, beach volley, windsurf, boat, gym, dance courses...) for about €46, so it may be a good deal (as it costs €7 one hour of windsurf).
  • Morne à l'eau, renowned for its amazing cemetery composed of burial places made of black and white tiles.
  • Anse Bertrand, not far from there, you can visit La pointe de la Grande Vigie, northern point of mainland Guadeloupe. You can also go to Porte d'Enfer, a beautiful still stripe of sea between a scenery of reefs. From there, walk one hour along the cliff, and you will discover a Souffleur, kind of geyser due to the pressure of the sea.
  • Abymes nothing special to see, but the weekend, there are 3 local nightclubs: L'instant, Caraibes and Latin Club. They are located at the same place.
  • Baie-Mahault: the industrial and commercial zone of Guadeloupe, nothing special to do or see. Here stands the biggest shopping mall of the island. Not too far from there, you can find a local bar/nightclub named Bik Kreyol, Beau Soleil, 0590 25 80 46 or 0590 92 06 48 (Entrance €5, Drinks €3). Local music (ragga, zouk, rnb) and local customers. The building is typical, it's a former warehouse.

Other destinations[edit]

Don't miss the spectacular waterfalls in the jungle of Basse-Terre (Carbet Falls). Some are within 5–10 minutes walking distance from the nearest parking lot, some require at least 3–4 hours of hiking (those are, of course less frequented by other tourists and you might find yourself alone at a spectacular waterfall in the middle of nowhere - an amazing experience!).

The local rum distilleries offer tours (check for opening times as they may very from season to season) which are certainly worth the while since rum production is a very integral part of Guadeloupe's economy. And sampling the local rums is definitely worth the while.

Even though they might not be the best way to get around the island, a ride on the bus is still an experience you should not miss. Cheap, full of locals, conducted by fearless drivers, you can enjoy the beautiful Caribbean panorama to the sound of Guadeloupean zouk music. Some routes are not good for passengers with weak stomachs.

Understand[edit]

Guadeloupe has been a French possession since 1635 except for the years 1813-1814 when it came into Swedish possession as a consequence of the Napoleonic Wars. The island of Saint Martin is shared with the Netherlands; its southern portion is named Sint Maarten and is part of the Netherlands Antilles and its northern portion is named Saint-Martin and is part of Guadeloupe.

Guadeloupe is an archipelago of nine inhabited islands, including Basse-Terre, Grande-Terre, Marie-Galante, La Desirade, Iles des Saintes (2), Saint-Barthélemy, Iles de la Petite Terre, and Saint-Martin (French part of the island of Saint Martin).

Climate 
subtropical tempered by trade winds; moderately high humidity
Terrain 
Basse-Terre is volcanic in origin with interior mountains; Grande-Terre is low limestone formation; most of the seven other islands are volcanic in origin

Get in[edit]

Passports and visas[edit]

Being an integrated part of France, Guadeloupe is considered as European as Paris politically, so European Union immigration rules apply.

By plane[edit]

  • From the Caribbean


Air Antilles Express[1] connects Guadeloupe with Martinique, Saint Barthélemy, Domenican Republic, Sint Maarten .

Air Caraïbes [2] connects Guadeloupe with Martinique, Port-au-Prince, Saint Barthélemy, Saint Lucia-Vigie, Saint Martin, Santo Domingo-Las Américas, Sint Maarten.

Air France [3] connects Guadeloupe with Martinique, Port-au-Prince, Punta Cana.

LIAT [4] connects Guadeloupe with Antigua and Dominica.

Seaborne [5] connects Guadeloupe with San Juan.


  • From North America


Air Canada[6] connects Guadeloupe with Montreal.

Air France[7] connects Guadeloupe with Miami.

American Airlines[8] connects Guadeloupe with Miami.


  • From South America


Air France[9] connects Guadeloupe with Cayenne (Codeshares with Air Antilles Express).


  • From Europe


Air Caraïbes[10] connects Guadeloupe with Paris.

Air France[11] connects Guadeloupe with Paris.

XL Airways[12] connects Guadeloupe with Paris.


For more information, you can have a look at Guadeloupe Airport website [13].


From Guadeloupe, to travel in the surrounding places, here is an idea of the prices (roundtrip): Trinidad ~250 €, Barbade ~260 €, Puerto Rico ~300 €, Dominican Republic ~350 €, Cuba ~550 €


You can obtain information at Agence Penchard, 1 bis rue de la République 97100 Basse-Terre, Tel 0590 812 712 Fax 0590 810 711

By car[edit]

From some neighbouring islands, you can travel with your car on ferry companies (See section by boat).

By boat[edit]

From Martinique, Dominica, Saint Lucia, Marie Galante, Les Saintes: Express des Iles [14], Brudey Frères [15], Star Ferries [16].

  • Windward Islands [17] - Windward Islands, one of the worlds largest yacht charter companies, can take care of all charter requirements, from bareboat to crewed in Guadeloupe, Martinique and St Martin. Operating from its international offices (USA, UK, Germany, France, Spain, Switzerland, Caribbean, Honk Kong, Dubai).
  • Canadian Sailing Expeditions - Tall Ship Caledonia [18] - The Tall Ship Caledonia will arrive in the region in the fall of 2007. Travellers can embark at Pointe-a-Pitre and sail on to various locations such as Deschaies.

Get around[edit]

By car[edit]

Cars can be hired at the airport in Pointe-à-Pitre. The main roads are of the same quality as metropolitan France, but smaller roads are often uneven, pot-holed and frankly dangerous. Prudence is required! Drivers are often undisciplined, but rarely aggressive.

By boat[edit]

  • Windward Islands [19] - Windward Islands, one of the worlds largest yacht charter companies, can take care of all charter requirements, from bareboat to crewed in Guadeloupe, Martinique and St Martin. Operating from 8 international offices (USA, UK, Germany, France, Spain, Switzerland, Caribbean, Monaco).

Talk[edit]

See also: French phrasebook

French is the official language, although Guadeloupean Créole (very different from French) is the native language. Everyone speaks French but few people understand English.

See[edit]

The first and second cascades of the Carbet Falls

Natural beauty is perhaps Guadeloups main attraction, and tourists flock to its sandy beaches, azure waters and vast forests. The southern coast of Grande-Terr is the main resort area, where you'll find developed, beautiful beaches and calm waters. It's a good place to kick back and enjoy a cocktail in one of the beach bars or join the many French women bathing in the Caribbean sun. Or, head for one of the many diving schools and explore underwater wildlife. For a fun day trip, hop on a ferry service around the scenic eight islands cluster of Les Saintes, skirting Guadeloupe's southern coast. The gorgeous and rustique island of Marie-Galante makes another perfect trip for a day or even two, as it has lovely scenery, great sands, 19th century windmills and sugar cane plantations to see.

In contrast to the rolling hills and flat plains landscape of Grande-Terr, Basse-Terre (the western wing of the island) has a rough volcanic relief. Here you'll find the splendid Parc National de la Guadeloupe, a 74,100-acre protected rainforest with plenty of trails for expert and novice hikers. The park is home to the 1467m high peak of the La Soufrière volcano, the highest mountain peak in the Lesser Antilles. On its lower slopes are the grand Carbet Falls, a series of 3 waterfalls on the Carbet River and one of Gouadeloup's main attractions. For wildlife lovers, the Zoological and Botanical Park of Guadeloupe offers a great insight in tropical flora and fauna and its animal collection included rare and endangered species.

Basse-Terre city, the administrative capital of Guadeloupe, is home to a range of colonial buildings. Furthermore, there are the 19th century Cathedral of Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul, the main square and adjoining Jardin Pichon. In Pointe-à-Pitre, there are museums, a bustling creole market place and aquarium and of course the impressive colonial fort to explore.

Do[edit]

Scuba diving and snorkeling. There is an amazing assortment of tropical fish, even in water less than one metre deep. For those who can't swim, glass bottomed boat trips are on offer.

There are many festivals to attend to in Guadeloupe. In Guadeloupe they call them "parties on the street". They use colourful ribbons and tie them round their wrists to resemble the colours of all the nations. Their parties last all through the night until the early morning. They sometimes call them "swatson".

  • Sally. Guadeloupe is the location for the British TV series - Death in Paradise.

Buy[edit]

  • Characteristic of the Antilles is the colourful tiled Madras fabric.
  • The local made rum is also distinctive and very cheap to buy. Certainly worth sampling (during an evening at one of the beautiful beaches or at home when showing vacation pictures to friends and family to warm everyone up to caribbean temperature)

Eat[edit]

Not to be missed, the plate Colombo (chicken, rice, curry), imported from India, has become the typical regional plate. the expected cost for food is anywhere from 4.99 to 38.99

Drink[edit]

The local drink is white rum. Do try the "'Ti Punch" (Petit Punch/small Punch) (rum, lime, and sugar cane/brown sugar). Packs a wallop, so be prepared to melt into the island way of life.

Sleep[edit]

  • Sunset Surf Camp97118 Saint François, Grande-Terre. One of the few (perhaps the only?) backpackers accommodations in Guadeloupe, with both private rooms and dorm-style rooms of three beds. The surf camp is located within a 2500m² tropical garden located a few hundreds meters from Raisins Clairs beach and it takes less than 10mn to walk to the center of Saint François. From €29 per night for a dorm room (high season 2010).
  •    Gîtes de l'HabituéeCapesterre Belle Eau (route de morne crossing with chemin baron),  +590 590 98 68 95, e-mail: . 3 fully furnished Bungalows (#1:sleeps 2 #2 an #3:sleep 4) South east of Basse Terre island. Free WiFi. €35-55.
  • PV-Holidays Sainte Anne Holiday Village +33 1 58 21 55 84. The self-catering village is made up of exotic 2-floor houses, each of which contains several hotel apartments. It is located “on the water’s edge” and is embellished by tropical gardens. Surrounded by two beaches, sports and water areas and has many on-site shops.
  • Chalets Sous-le-Vent - Réserve CousteauRoute de Poirier, Pigeon (Basse-Terre Region, 40km from Airport),  +590590989161. 7 fully equipped cottages located in a 2'300sqm tropical garden with a swimming pool and sea view, facing the "Réserve Cousteau" marine park in Guadeloupe. Diving spots and beach 5 min. away by car. One chalet is fully equipped for disabled persons. Swiss owners and alumni of the Lausanne Hotel Management School. Special offers for scuba-divers. Cottages 2–3p, bungalow with aircon 2-4p, twin cottages 4–6p
  • Hotel AmaudoSaint-François, Grande-Terre. Has the best online reviews by a mile on the whole island, and looks beautiful in photos! From €130 a night (High season 2010).
  • Hotel KaraibesLe Gosier, Grande-Terre. Two star hotel, basic but clean and fine. From €70 per night (High season 2010).
  • Hotel le Petit HavreRoute de la Plage - Petit-Havre - 97190 Gosier - Grande-Terre. Simple two star hotel From €85 per night (high season 2010).
  • Aloes Vacancesroute de la pointe des châteaux la coulée 97118 St François, Grande-Terre. Gites (holiday apartments) in St François, less than 10 minutes walk from the beach and the town. From €85 per night for a studio (high season 2010).
  • Les Gîtes de la Grande SourceRue du Souffleur - 97127 La Désirade. On one of the most genuine islands of the Guadeloupe archipelago, vacation bungalows in quiet tropical gardens only some 200m from the sea are awaiting you. From €46 per night for a double (high season 2010).
  • Oualiri Beach HotelBeauséjour - 97127 La Désirade. Of a reasonably small size allowing personal contacts, the Oualiri Beach Hôtel offers all the charm and authentic atmosphere proper to the island of Desirade. From €60 for a single (low season 2009).

Work[edit]

For European people coming from an EU country, working in Guadeloupe is allowed without problem. If you're from outside the EU, you will probably need a work permit - check with the French Embassy in your country. Do not forget though that the unemployment rate is around 28%. But if you work in the health sector (doctor, nurse), it will be much easier. Else you could find a job in bars, restaurants, and/or nightclubs. The better is to have a precise idea of what you want to do, inform yourself and prospect before going there.

Voluntary service: Volontariat Civil à l'Aide Technique (VCAT). Conditions: you must be French or from another EU-member state or a country belonging to the European Economic Area. You must be over 18 and under 28 years old (inclusive). You must not have had your civic rights revoked by a court or have been convicted of certain offences. VCAT [20], Préfecture Guadeloupe [21].

Stay safe[edit]

The main tourist areas (city center of Point-à-Pitre, Le Gosier, St. Anne, St. Felix...) are pretty safe, especially by day. When it gets dark, you should avoid walking around in Point-à-Pitre alone and stay on the main roads and plazas and be aware of smaller side streets. Always try to keep a low profile as a tourist to avoid attracting unwanted attention.

Stay healthy[edit]

There is no particular disease but you should protect yourself from the sun. Sanitary and medical facilities in Guadeloupe are good. Health care in Guadeloupe is controlled by a state-owned organisation (Sécurité Sociale). Doctors are available in almost every village. Tap water is usually safe for consumption. Public sources of water are unsafe if labeled with "Eau non potable" (no drinking water). Visitors from European Union should bring an E111 form with them. Ask details at your local health care organisation.

Emergency phone numbers[edit]

  • emergency services: 112 (which can be called from any mobile phone, even if not connected to a GSM network);
  • fire brigade: 18;
  • police station: 17;
  • specialised emergency medical service (called SAMU): 15.

Respect[edit]

While officially a part of France, the country does not have a very Europeanized way of life. In fact, life in the Caribbean has a much slower pace. Busses run very infrequently, taxis are hard to find, smaller stores open or close not always on time, queuing in stores is sometimes very time consuming... Try to fall into the local pace and do not complain about minor annoyances as Guadeloupeans will see that as an offense to their way of life. And they are proud of the distinction between caribbean and metropolian (French) life style!

Connect[edit]

Phones[edit]

Country code: 590

Dialing within Guadeloupe: all numbers have 10 digits. Landlines begin by 0590 and mobile phones by 0690.

Dialing to Guadeloupe: international prefix + 590 + phone number without the first 0 (this leads to dial twice 590 which is normal). If you dial from France, just use the 10 digits number.

Dialing from Guadeloupe: the international prefix is 00.

Calling to a mobile phone is more expensive than to a landline. Number beginning by 0800 are free phone. Number beginning by 089 are premium-rate.

Few foreign mobile phone companies offer international roaming to Guadeloupe so double-check before leaving. Your company should provide specific roaming to Guadeloupe since it has deferent mobile phone companies than in mainland France.

Alternatively, you should be able to get a Pay-as-you-go SIM card from various locations. There are two companies offering wireless services: Bouygues Telecom Caraïbe [22] and Orange Caraïbe [23].

Post[edit]

Post offices are found in all cities. Letter boxes are colored in yellow.

Rates[edit]

Less than 20g (postcard, letter with one or two pages in a regular envelop) :

  • France (including Oversea Territories DOM-TOM): 0,53€
  • area 2 (rest of the world) : 0,90 €

The basic stamp for regular mail is red with the head of "Marianne" (the Republic logo). It does not carry its value and can therefore be used even after a price increase. It is sold in all Post Offices, Bureaux de Tabacs (Tobacco sellers identified by a red lozenge) and postcard vendors. The latter may also carry other common stamps.

In most Post Offices you will find an automatic machine (yellow) with a scale and a screen. Just put your mail on the scale, tell the machine (French or English) the destination, pay the indicated amount and the machine will deliver a printed stamp.

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