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Guadeloupe may be the southernmost from the Leeward Islands, just off the north from the Windward Islands, at Martinique. The area of Dominica splits the two islands, but they're always considered as next door neighbors and bundled together all the time. Guadeloupe comprises of two islands which are a part of the narrow funnel water known as the Rivière Salee. The western island, Basse-Terre, is hilly and dense, while Grande-Terre in the east is comparatively less mountainous. Actually, Basse-Terre features an active volcano, La Soufrière, that's about 4,800 ft high.
 
The Arawaks were the foremost occupants of Guadeloupe, but, like a lot of their Caribbean neighbors, these were eventually removed after the Craib tribe took over in the ninth century.
Even though the island is separated from the Eiffel Tower by 1000's of miles, the people of Guadeloupe are French, with similar privileges accorded to a Parisian. The Euro may be the official currency, French stamps can be used for postage, and also French is the official language.
 
Pointe-à-Pitre is juxtaposed between the two islands, around the gulf of Grande-Terre. The town is as charming as Fort-p-France, Martinique, however it comes with its very own unique pleasures for individuals adventurous enough to find them.
 
Guadeloupe isn't a tropical paradise for that timid. The very best points of interest are hidden, and are hard to unearth. Each day spent only in Pointe-à-Pitre is going to do little to help you witness Guadeloupe's real beauty. Go for the ferry outings to Guadeloupe's more compact satellite islands, Îles des Saintes and Marie-Gallante to be enchanted. 
 
Do… learn some key French phrases before you go. The locals will give you a genuine smile if you make an effort to speak French. With a simple “bonjour,” “merci,” some survival phrases like “how much does this cost?” and the obligatory traveler’s hand gestures, you’ll do just fine.  Do… spend time on Basse Terre
Basse Terre is the large southern island of Guadeloupe, and although slightly less popular with tourists than Grande Terre, it’s got pristine beaches, excellent hikes, and moments of solitude.
 
For some quality beach time, check out la Grande Anse de Deshaies. For trekking, be sure to try one of the numerous hikes that explore local waterfalls. And if you’re big on marine life, go for the Jacques Cousteau Underwater Reserve.
 
Docking & Local Transportation
Cruise ships pier at Port of Pointe-à-Pitre. Downtown Pointe-à-Pitre is easily accessible by foot in the port, and after that you'll have little difficulty making your way around Guadeloupe.
 
Taxis really are a popular and simple choice, but be advised that they're costly. In addition, they are not metered, therefore it is easier to choose a cost before you decide to walk into the cab. Technically, costs are government controlled, but technicality and reality frequently differ. Cabs are permitted to charge 40 % at night, so take that into account.
Pointe-à-Pitre can serve as the primary hub for bus travel through the island. The published directions are in French, so improve before hopping aboard.
 
Things To See and Do
Pointe-à-Pitre, on the island of Grand-Terre, is the largest city and economic center of Guadeloupe with a sheltered cruise ship port five minutes from town. Founded in the mid 1600s, this busy market town is still small enough to cross in 15 minutes.
 
Well-preserved 19th century buildings line the older streets such as Rue Achille and René-Boisneuf, and the bustling markets are a great place to soak up some local color with their tropical produce piled high, aromatic spices, and vendors dressed in flamboyant attire. One of the main tourist attractions in the city is the Place de la Victoire, a park surrounded by lovely homes and restaurants. Near Pointe-à-Pitre, the commune of Le Gosier, with its large marina and many tourist facilities, is a gateway for excursions to the islands of Marie-Galante and Les Saintes.
 
Place de la Victoire
A large park dotted with mango trees and royal palms, Place de la Victoire, is the focal point of Pointe-à-Pitre. Visitors can relax at the sidewalk cafes lining the Rue Bébion on the west side of the park and stroll past the charming old homes along the Rue de Comdt Mortenal on the east side.
 
Markets and Shopping Streets
The colorful and bustling markets of Pointe-à-Pitre exude all the culture and color of this vibrant town. Tropical fruits, fragrant spices, local crafts, and brightly-hued flowers are a sensory feast at the harborside market along La Darse, the inner harbor road. Fishing boats tie up here to sell their catch. Other markets around the town include Saint-Antoine, Saint-Jules, and the Flower market. Shopping hot spots include the Center Saint-John Perse, and the boutiques and jewelry shops of Frébault, Nozières and Schoelcher Streets. Shoppers will also find many smaller stores and stalls on the noisy, animated side streets.
 
Museum Saint John Perse
The Museum Saint John Perse (Musée Municipal Saint-John Perse) honors the islands' renowned poet and Nobel Laureate, who was also known as Alexis Saint-Léger. The museum is housed in a carefully restored two-story colonial house dating from the 19th century. On the ground floor, visitors can explore an authentic period Creole residence, while the top floor contains exhibits on the poet's life, a library, and videotheque. The poet's house of birth is nearby at 54 Rue de Nozières. Address: 9 Nozières Street, Pointe-à-Pitre
 
Iron Cathedral
The curious Cathédrale de St Pierre et St Paul in Pointe-à-Pitre features arches constructed of riveted iron girders, reflecting the influence of past hurricanes and earthquakes.Address: Rue du Général Ruillier, Pointe-a-Pitre
Gosier
A commune of Pointe-a-Pitre, Gosier is a picturesque seaside town with a large marina, tourist accommodations, and many shops. Boats to Marie-Galante and Les Saintes leave from here. Nearby, at Fort Fleur d'Epé lie the ruins of a French garrison built in 1759 to guard against English raids. Photographers will enjoy the flowering trees, rusting cannons, and views out to sea.
 
From Gosier, visitors can take a boat to Isle of Gosier, a small island just offshore with a beach and old lighthouse.
 
Aquarium de la Guadeloupe
Rated among the best French aquariums, Aquarium de la Guadeloupe in Gossier showcases the region's rich marine life. The museum is about 11-minutes by car from Pointe-à-Pitre. More than 60 species of tropical fish, as well as sharks and turtles, are contained in numerous ponds. The snorkeling tours are popular with children and adults alike.Address: Place Creole, La Marina, Gosier 97190, Guadeloupe
Official site: http://www.aquariumdelaguadeloupe.com/
 
Museum Schoelcher
The Museum Schoelcher, in Pointe-à-Pitre, is dedicated to the life and works of Victor Schoelcher, a major activist who helped abolish slavery in Guadeloupe. Housed in a beautiful colonial building, the museum displays exhibits and artifacts of the slave trade as well as works of art belonging to Monsieur Schoelcher. Address: 24 Rue Peynier, Pointe-a-Pitre
 
Fête des Cuisinières
Fête des Cuisinières or Festival of the Women Cooks, in Pointe-à-Pitre, is an annual event held in August. During this time women dress in colorful costume, and celebrations take place throughout the day and into the evening with entertainment, dancing, and food. Tickets sell out almost instantly for the festival's five-hour feast, which many consider is some of the best Creole cuisine in the Caribbean.
 
Eating Out
For scenic seaside dining in Pointe-à-Pitre, La Canne a Sucre is a great choice. Menu items feature a subtle blend of Southern France and the Caribbean, with various other international flavors mixed in, including spicy nouvelle creole cuisine. Seafood dishes are as fresh as can be, direct from the sea to your plate! This is also where you can enjoy the best views of the Pointe-à-Pitre harbour, so be sure to reserve a table out on the terrace.
 
If you like wine with your meal, then check out Côté Jardin. Located in the Pointe-à-Pitre Marina, this chic, upscale eatery with an impressive wine list serves mostly French favorites that are as authentic as it gets. You can even find boeuf charolais imported direct from France on the menu! Those more partial to local fare won’t be disappointed either as there are a few refined Creole dishes on the menu, including a scrumptious catch of the day with Creole sauce.
 
Iguane Cafe in St-Françoise, Grande-Terre offers one of the more dynamic dining experiences in Guadeloupe. The menu here is constantly evolving with African, Asian, Indian, French, and Creole influences all employed in ever-new and more inventive ways by acclaimed Chef Sylvain Serouart. Hopefully you can get a taste of the fabulous fillet of sea bream grilled with spices, tomato rougaille, and Basmati rice – a real treat!
 
Auberge de la Vieille Tour in Gosier; Grande-Terre is another great gourmet option. You’ll find traditional French cuisine here with some nice fusion touches in a romantic setting built around an 18th century sugar mill. Creole cuisine is featured on Thursday and Sunday nights.
 
Tamarind chicken, lobster ravioli, spiced saddle of rabbit, and some truly amazing desserts are among the inventive creations served by French-born chef (and pastry master) Philippe Dadé at Ti Kaz’ la in Terre-de-Haut, Les Saintes. The open-air bar and dining area here are right up against the sea, so you can settle in the sea after your meal.
 
Chez Henri in Sant Louis, Marie-Galante is a chic, modern restaurant named for the chef-owner Henri Vergerolle who returned to Guadeloupe after many years in France and created this culinary-cultural hive that buzzes with music, art and dining. The creole omelet is a must, as well as the catch of the day, fresh from the sea and served with Caribe sauce.
 
All of these restaurants serve great desserts, but for something really special, don’t miss David Vignau, Maitre Chocolatier in the Destreland Commercial Center in Baie-Mahault. His delicious chocolate, macaroons, and haute pastisseries will leave you speechless!
 
The Essence of Guadeloupe -- At some point as you stroll through the market, order a glass of rhum agricole from one of the local vendors. The drink is a pure form of rum that's fermented from sugar-cane juice. Savvy locals claim that the rum (whose brand name is Rhum Damoiseau) is the only kind you can drink without a hangover the next morning.
 
Shopping
We suggest that you skip a shopping tour of Pointe-à-Pitre if you're going to Fort-de-France on Martinique, as you'll find far more merchandise there, and perhaps friendlier service. If you're not, however, we recommend the following shops, some of which line rue Frébault.
 
Your best buys will be anything French -- perfumes from Chanel, silk scarves from Hermès, cosmetics from Dior, crystal from Lalique and Baccarat. Though they're still expensive, we've found some of these items discounted (but not often) as much as 30% below U.S. or Canadian prices. Most shops will accept U.S. dollars, but they'll give these discounts only for purchases made by traveler's check. Purchases are duty-free if brought directly from store to plane. In addition to the places below, there are also two duty-free shops at Aéroport Guadeloupe Pôle Caraibes (tel. 590/21-14-66) selling liquor, rums, perfumes, crystal, and cigarettes.
 
Most shops open at 8:30am, close at 1pm, and then reopen between 3 and 5:30pm. They're closed on Saturday afternoons, Sundays, and holidays. When the cruise ships are in port, many shopkeepers stay open longer and on weekends, and sometimes remain open throughout the midday closing.
 
One of the best places to buy French perfumes, at prices often lower than those charged in Paris, is Phoenicia, 121 rue Frébault (tel. 590/82-25-75), which has a good selection of imported cosmetics as well. Another leading perfume shop is Au Bonheur des Dames, 49 rue Frébault (tel. 590/82-00-30), also known for its skin-care products.
 
If you're adventurous, you may want to seek out some native goods in little shops along the back streets of Pointe-à-Pitre. Look for the straw hats, or salacos, made in Les Saintes islands, usually created from split bamboo. Native doudou dolls are also popular gift items.
 
Open-air stalls surround the Marché Couvert (covered market) at the corner of rue Frébault and rue Peynier. Here you can discover the many fruits, spices, and vegetables that are fun to look at as well as to taste. In madras turbans, local Creole women make deals over their strings of fire-red pimientos. The bright fabrics they wear compete with 
the rich colors of oranges, papayas, bananas, mangos, and pineapples. Best times to visit are Monday to Saturday 7am to 1pm.


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