|Antilles Info Tourisme|
Saint Barthélémy is situated at a distance of 200kms from continental Guadeloupe and 25kms from Saint-Martin. It is a mountainous island of 25km² (0.62 acres), whose only even area is occupied by the airport's runway.
Discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493, he named it after his brother.
As the climate is rather dry, agriculture has never been developped.
After Swedish domination of about one century, when Saint Barth was granted its statute of free port, the island was retroceeded to France and was part of the overseas departement Guadeloupe until the referendum held on December 07, 2003, when the inhabitants voted to become a French oversea community of their own.
Despite of the tight relationship with France, the American influence is considerable because of tourism and priviledged relations with the American Virgin Islands.
Thanks to stringent building regulations and price control, Saint-Barth never became a destination for mass tourism and today is the paradise for millionaires in the Caribbean. The Saint-Barths, residents from France and other countries live in one city, Gustavia, and a dozen of villages.
Rent a Minimoke or a small offroad vehicle, lift off the top and discover the island - on the narrow, winding roads you hardly ever exceed 50 km/h (31 miles/h):
Twenty white, sandy beaches, all public, most of them sheltered by a coral reef, are awaiting you all around the island, everybody will find his favorite place.
The inland is dry and mountainous, nevertheless, the highest peak is at 300m (984ft) only. Stonewalls separating the parcels of land remind of the Brittanic origins of the inhabitants.
The natural leeward port of Gustavia became an important provisioning and trade site during the colony wars in the 18th century. Today the warehousesh have been replaced by restaurants and taxfree luxury shops along the small streets, where some white, red-roofed houses, the belfry and the Wall House still remind of Swedish domination. Go up to Fort Gustave from where you have an amazing panoramic view and visit the Saint-Barth's historical museum.
In the evening, one meets in one of the many restaurants and bars in the populous city center.
Leave Guastavia to the North, drive up the hill "La Tourmente", where the landing airplanes nearly touch the road before throwing themselves on the runway that finishes on a beach. Continue heading eastward to Saint-Jean, a tourist resort with many shops, restaurants and hotels on a beautiful bay.
Follow the road to Lorient, a typical Saint-Barth's village, where you should stop at the cemetery, that has nothing of a mournful place.
Heading farer East, you'll reach the beautiful beaches of the Grand and Petit Cul de Sac. Then turn South, drive up the morne Vitet, the island's highest pass at 281m (922ft), who offers a breathtaking round view.
Other dream beaches are at Saline - until 1972 salt was extracted here, now the ponds are a natural reservation for birds of passage. Anse du Gouverneur and the steep access roads offer many new viewpoints.
Return to Gustavia by Lurin, a residential district where there road offers even more viewpoints.
Cross Gustavia and drive westward, direction Colombier. You'll cross Anse des Cayes, another residential area with a beach ideal for surfing, then Anse des Flamands, a small village nestled in tropical vegetation with a huge beach shaded by coconut trees.
The pointe à Colombier with its beach at the west point of the island is not accessible by car, but from the viewpoint Grande Roche at the end of the road you can take advantage from the panoramic view over the whole island, the small isles in front and to Saint-Martin. The Colombier bay is one of the favorite mooring sites for sailing yachts.
Heading back eastwards, you should stop in Corossol, a small fishermen's village, that seems to resist modern times.
Small wooden houses, colored fishing boats, women wearing traditional bonnets (quichenotte) and braiding hats and other decorative articles from palm leaves.
Finally, the shell museum is worth a visit.
For further information about St. Barth, contact:
Office Municipal du Tourisme (Tourist Board)
Quai Général de Gaulle, Gustavia - 97133 St. Barthélemy
Tél.: 0590-27 87 27 - Fax: 0590-27 74 47
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