Fort St. Louis
Overlooking Marigot Bay on the leeward side
of the island sits the imposing figure of Fort St. Louis, the
largest historical monument in St.Martin. Named for the famous
crusading king of France, it was originally built in 1767 to
protect the settlement at Marigot from foreign invaders. The
plans were sent over directly from Versailles at the order
of the ill-fated French king, Louis XVI. Following the events
of 1789, the fort was temporarily occupied by the Dutch to
prevent the further spread of revolutionary democracy which
had reached the island from Guadeloupe. Now, it no longer serves
its former purpose, but the steep climb up to the summit provides
a panoramic view of the island and the sea surrounding it,
and the effort is well rewarded. The area is open 24/7 and
there are signs explaining historical events.
The Marigot Market
On Wednesdays and Saturdays mornings, an
open-air market is set up along the wharves on the Blvd. de
France, offering a colorful array of homegrown produce, tropical
fruits and spices, and freshly caught fish. It is a perfect
opportunity for mingling, people watching, and just sampling
the food. Across from the market are the "Lolo's",
featuring arts, crafts and local restaurants.
St.-Martin Museum, "On The Trail
Of The Arawaks"
At the southern end of Marigot, next to the
Marina Port la Royale, is a museum dedicated to preserving
St.Martin's history and culture. A new building houses a variety
of pre-Colombian treasures unearthed by the Hope Estate Archaeological
Society. Among these are a reproduction of the 1,500 year old
burial mound that was only discovered in 1994, artifacts dating
back as far as 1800 BC, and some beautifully adorned ceramics
from around 550 BC. A colonial exhibit details the history
of the plantation and slavery period, and early 20th Century
photographs provide glimpses into the island's modern development.
It is open daily free of charge. Open from 9 am to 4 pm entrance
fee is € 5.00 (Tel: 0590 29-48-36)
The capital city of Marigot is perhaps the
most French in spirit of all the cities in the Caribbean. Colonial
houses stand beside smart cafés and bistros, pastry
shops and luxury boutiques, and in many ways it looks just
like any of the French market towns you might expect to find
on the Continent. A shopping center newly built at the foot
of Fort St. Louis, with luxurious boutiques such as Chanel,
Lacoste. At the southern end of town down by the harbor is
the Marina Port la Royale, elegant stores with the latest in
European designer fashions and fine jewelry, all free of tax.
The entire city is only four streets wide, so it is very easy
to get around.
The sweeping curve of the beach at Grand
Case near the northern tip of the island shelters a little
fishing village that is famous not only for its fine foods
but also for its distinctive style of architecture. Elaborate
carvings and fretwork, in what is called a gingerbread style,
adorn the fronts of the small wooden houses painted in pastel
colors, and the effect is truly charming. Some of the island's
best restaurants also happen to be located in this area, including
local dishes at barbecue stands called Lolo's and souvenir
shops. Do not miss the Tuesday night festivities during high
season on the Blfd de Grand-Case.
Halfway between Marigot and Grand Case lies
the picturesque setting of Colombier, a sumptuous green valley
lush with tropical vegetation and sinking gently between rolling
green hills. It is one of the most beautiful and most peaceful
spots in St. Martin, perfect for private walks and quiet relaxation.
There is also a newly opened watermelon plantation, where the
fruit is used to prepare liqueur, deserts and other treats.
Rising from the center of St. Martin at a
height of 1,400 feet stands Pic Paradis, the highest point
on the whole island. Climbing to the top, where there are two
observation decks, provides a spectacular view of the scenery
and the tropical forest below. You can also try the FLYZONE
Atop this mountain, located right on the
border between St. Martin and St. Maarten, the original treaty
dividing the island in two was signed by the French and Dutch.
There are also the ruins of the old sugar plantation "La
The French word for Lowlands, are located
at the westernmost end of the island beyond the Simpson Bay
Lagoon. They are home to some of the most exclusive villas
on the island and feature two of St. Martin's prettiest beaches
at Plum Bay, Baie Rouge and Baie Longue, the location of the
5-star La Samanna Hotel.
Butter Fly Farm
At the Butter Fly Farm you can walk amongst
the rare and exotic butterflies, from around the world flying
freely in the tropical paradise, with music, flowers and fresh
Visiting Hours: 9am to 3pm
Entrance fee: 10 US dollars or 10 Euro + return ticket, kids pay half price
Tel: 0590 87 31 21
Orleans, The French Quarter
The quiet little fishing village of Orleans,
also called the French Quarter, is located on the eastern side
of the island just north of the border with St.Maarten. It
was the original settlement of the French in St.Martin and
some of the original seventeenth-century structures are still
preserved here. This part of the island has not been developed
extensively, so much of the old atmosphere has remained unspoiled.
There are only a few residences here today, together with a
few small shops.