Guadeloupe

North America > Caribbean > Lesser Antilles > Guadeloupe


LocationGuadeloupe.png
Capital Basse-Terre
Currency euro (EUR)
Population 384.2 thousand (2019)
Electricity 230 volt / 50 hertz (Europlug, AC power plugs and sockets: British and related types, Type E)
Country code +590
Time zone UTC−04:00
Emergencies 112
Driving side right
Not to be confused with Guadalupe Island west of Mexico.

Guadeloupe, known as Gwadloup in the local creole, and sometimes known as the Butterfly Island (French: l'île 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, southeast of Puerto Rico.

Guadeloupe is the largest of the four departments and collectivities that make up the French Antilles.

Islands[edit]

Map of Guadeloupe
  • 1 Basse-Terre: green and lush vegetation, mountainous with a sulphuric volcano.
  • 2 Grande-Terre: flat and dry with a lot of beaches, some of them very touristy.
  • 3 Marie-Galante Marie-Galante on Wikipedia: boats make the one-hour crossing from Pointe-à-Pitre to this land that is hone to more than 10,000 people, and hiking trails that connect its many restored windmills, colonial dwellings, and old sugar refineries.
  • 4 Les Saintes: composed of Terre de Haut and Terre de Bas, one of the most beautiful bays.
  • 5 La Désirade La Désirade on Wikipedia: there are boats and planes from Grande-Terre to this dry and cliffy island that is home to about 1,600 people
  • 6 Petite-Terre Petite Terre Islands on Wikipedia: uninhabited and untamed. Shuttle boats leave from Saint-François.

Other destinations[edit]

Don't miss the spectacular waterfalls in the jungle of Basse-Terre (Carbet Falls) within Guadeloupe National Park. Some are within 5–10 minutes walking distance from the nearest carpark, 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 vary from season to season) which are certainly worth the while since rum production is an 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 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]

Façade of Fort Napoléon des Saintes, Terre-de-Haut Island, Îles des Saintes

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.

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[edit]

Subtropical tempered by trade winds; moderately high humidity.

Terrain[edit]

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.

Watch[edit]

  • Death in Paradise. Deshaies on Basse-Terre Island is the filming location for the town of Honoré on the fictional British island territory of Saint Marie in the Anglo-French production Death in Paradise. The beautiful scenery often features on the show. Death in Paradise (Q1181286) on Wikidata Death in Paradise (TV series) on Wikipedia

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. Most people working in the tourism industry will speak English and sometimes Spanish or German.

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]

Entry stamp

From the Caribbean[edit]

From North America[edit]

  • Air Canada[6] connects Guadeloupe with Montreal.
  • Air France[7] connects Guadeloupe with Miami.
  • American Airlines[8] connects Guadeloupe with Miami.
  • JetBlue[9] has direct flights from New York-JFK.

From South America[edit]

  • Air France[10] connects Guadeloupe with Cayenne (Codeshares with Air Antilles Express).

From Europe[edit]

Air Caraïbes wide-body aircraft at Point a Pitre airport

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

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).

  • Rentacar - One of the largest agencies of car rental in Guadeloupe, agency at the airport and English speaking counter agents. All types of passenger vehicles and several types of contracts possible.
  • Quickly - Agency at the airport of Pole Caraibes, presents 14 years on the islands of Guadeloupe. All types of vehicles.
  • Locacar - Car rental implemented on Grande-Terre, near to the hotels. Shuttle from airport services.

By boat[edit]

  • From Martinique, Dominica, Saint Lucia, Marie Galante, and Les Saintes: Express des Iles, Brudey Frères [dead link], and Star Ferries.
  • Windward Islands [12] - Windward Islands, one of the worlds largest yacht charter companies, can take care of all charter requirements, from bare boat to crewed in Guadeloupe, Martinique, and St Martin. Operating from its international offices (USA, UK, Germany, France, Spain, Switzerland, Caribbean, Hong Kong, and Dubai).
  • Canadian Sailing Expeditions - Tall Ship Caledonia - Travelers can embark at Pointe-a-Pitre and sail on to various locations such as Deschaies.

Get around[edit]

Ferry to La Desiderade

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 bus[edit]

There is a public bus system. You can find the routes and timings on Karulis. Most routes start from Pointe-à-Pitre and connect with the main locations, such as the Airport. Services are limited on weekends.

By taxi[edit]

You will find plenty of taxis. But this is definitely the most expensive way of getting around. Fares are 40% higher from 21:00 to 07:00, as well as all day on Sunday and holidays. It's possible, but expensive (about ~€200/7 hours), to sight see by taxi. You could ask your hotel for help to make the arrangements.

See[edit]

The first and second cascades of the Carbet Falls

Natural beauty is perhaps Guadeloupe's main attraction, and tourists flock to its sandy beaches, azure waters and vast forests. The southern coast of Grande-Terre 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 rustic 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-Terre, 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 1467-m-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 Guadeloupe'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.

Former town hall, Pointe à Pitre

In Pointe-à-Pitre, there are museums, a bustling creole market place, an aquarium, and the impressive colonial fort to explore. The Mémorial ACTe is a museum tells the history of slavery and the slave trade from ancient times to modern-day.

Guadeloupe is the filming location for the Franco-British TV series Death in Paradise, with the island doubling as fictional British Overseas Territory "Saint-Marie". The real village of Deshaies doubles for "Honoré", where the characters' police force is based.

Do[edit]

Scuba diving and snorkelling. 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".

At the Distillerie Damoiseau on Grande-Terre, you can find out how rum is made, and enjoy a tasting session.

The Zoo de Guadeloupe in Basse-Terre has about 85 species of animals in this popular garden and nature reserve. Hiking trails and hanging bridges will give you the feel that you are in the jungle.

Buy[edit]

Money[edit]

Exchange rates for euros

As of September 2022:

  • US$1 ≈ €1
  • UK£1 ≈ €1.1
  • AU$1 ≈ €0.7
  • CA$1 ≈ €0.8
  • Japanese ¥100 ≈ €0.7

Exchange rates fluctuate. Current rates for these and other currencies are available from XE.com

Like the rest of France, the official currency is the euro ("", ISO currency code: EUR). It is divided into 100 cents.

Shopping[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 holiday pictures to friends and family to warm everyone up to Caribbean temperature)

Eat[edit]

Restaurants[edit]

Most restaurants in Guadeloupe offer local Creole cuisine. These restaurants are often found on or in close proximity to a beach, on a shore or in a marina, and on a national highway.

There are also a few restaurants with fine French cuisine.

International cuisine and fast food are also represented in Guadeloupe.

Local specialties[edit]

Not to be missed, the plate Colombo (chicken, rice, curry), imported from India, has become the typical regional plate. The expected cost for a restaurant meal is from €5-40.

  • Boudin créole (or Boudin for short). A black pudding spicy with Creole ingredients.
  • Féroce d'avocat. A variation of guacamole. You never know how hot the seasoning will be until you taste it.
  • Bananas. The "dessert banana" tastes pure or flambéed with rum and is the ideal ingredient for countless recipes, whether as jam, cake, tart, ice cream, fruit salad, punch or smoothie. A staple of Antillean cuisine, the plantain can be fried, grilled, boiled or made into chips.
  • Accras. The very popular Accras are small fritters traditionally made with cod. But some also contain other fish or shrimp or vegetables. According to tradition, donuts with vegetables are prepared on Good Friday. Every August, on the Saturday closest to Saint Lawrence Day, there is a parade in which Guadeloupe chefs dress in traditional costumes and parade through the streets of Pointe-à-Pitre, showing the Accras and other Creole dishes to try are enough.
  • Sorbet coco. Prepared by beach vendors in traditional wooden sorbet vats, this refreshing treat is an ideal snack after a swim in the sea or after a little siesta on the beach.
  • Rhum agricole. The agriculturally produced rum made from sugar cane juice. The number of distilleries in Guadeloupe has drastically decreased over time and less is produced as a result. However, Guadeloupe still has nine very famous distilleries.
    • Ti Punch (Rhum, Lime, Cane Sugar). Traditionally served in many venues by placing a glass, a slice of lime, cane sugar and a whole bottle of rhum on the table for the guest to mix their own ti punch. Be careful with the dosage: the rhum has at least 50% by volume. A local saying goes: "Tue-toi toi-même!" ("Kill yourself!")
    • Planteur. Rum with fruit juices.
    • Rhum au coco. Rum with coconut water.
  • Gratin de christophine (or Cristophine for short). The chayote, called "Christophine" in Guadeloupe, is a large green or white berry in the shape of a pear, with a taste reminiscent of zucchini or potatoes. It is a fruit of the gourd family and has health-promoting properties.
  • Colombo. Colombo, a blend of spices, is an indispensable ingredient in Guadeloupe's cuisine. Traditionally, it consists of turmeric, coriander seeds, cumin, fenugreek, mustard seeds and black pepper. Milder than curry, this flavourful concoction is a wonderful addition to vegetables, as well as chicken, shrimp, pork, swordfish and crayfish dishes. By the way, the famous and delicious Colombo with chicken is one of the most iconic dishes in Guadeloupe. Every year at the end of July, the municipality of Saint-François takes place the Colombo festival.
  • Chicken boucané. The famous smoked chicken, popular for its spicy and succulent taste, is made with meat that has been previously marinated in onions, garlic, spring onions, chilli, lemon juice, thyme, oil, salt and pepper and then grilled very slowly cooked over a mild, moist heat and without a flame.
  • Sauce chien. This seasoning sauce traditionally consists of scallions, onion, garlic, parsley, chilli, lemon juice, oil, warm water, salt and pepper. It is served with grilled chicken, meat and fish.
  • Jams. Contrary to what one might think, Creole jams are not made to be stored, but are served with dessert and it is not uncommon to find them in a local cake. Some of the most popular jams include those made with banana, coconut, guava, mango, pineapple, and papaya.
  • Blanc-manger coco. To make this dessert, in addition to coconut milk, you need sweet condensed milk, gelatin leaves, vanilla, cinnamon, and grated lime zest.
  • Fricassee de ouassous. A large freshwater shrimp very popular in Guadeloupe, the Ouassou can be prepared in a number of ways: grilled, flambéed with rum, or fricassee to be served as a main course. In a beautiful green setting, the Pointe-Noire Aquaculture Park offers guided tours of the shrimp tanks.
  • Blaff de poisson (or Blaff for short). Traditionally, this stew is prepared with snapper, tuna or mackerel. This stew's name comes from the sound the fish makes when it falls into the pot of boiling hot water. Sometimes this dish is offered as court bouillon. It then contains a little less fish

Drink[edit]

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

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.

Stay safe[edit]

The main tourist areas (city centre 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]

Habitation Murat, the main building of a former sugar plantation, now a museum

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 their European Health Insurance Card 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 it is a part of France, the country does not have a very Europeanised way of life; life in the Caribbean has a much slower pace. Buses 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 get into the local pace and do not complain about minor annoyances, as Guadeloupeans will see that as an offence to their way of life. And they are proud of the distinction between Caribbean and metropolitan (French) lifestyle.

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 is one company offering wireless services: Orange Caraïbe.

Post[edit]

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

Rates[edit]

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

  • 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.

This region travel guide to Guadeloupe is an outline and may need more content. It has a template, but there is not enough information present. If there are Cities and Other destinations listed, they may not all be at usable status or there may not be a valid regional structure and a "Get in" section describing all of the typical ways to get here. Please plunge forward and help it grow!