An Authentic Taste of Guadeloupe and Martinique
A South Carolina couple heading for Guadeloupe and Martinique, in the French West Indies, is searching for an authentic experience of the islands' best volcanoes, beaches, and rum.
On Martinique, we're staying on Presqu'île de la Caravelle, and on Guadeloupe, we'll be near Ste.-Anne and Deshaies. Any restaurant suggestions?
Your hotel on Martinique is just a 15-minute drive from Tartane, where there's a row of well-priced restaurants. In La Trinité, a village next to Tartane, locals go to La Tartanaise restaurant for the unofficial national drink, ti-punch, made of rum, lime, and sugar (5 rue Galba, 011-596/596-58-54-87, dinner from $16).
Kouleur Kreole, in Ste.-Anne, serves French and Creole fare (chemin de la Plage, 011-590/590-91-45-76, entrées from $13). If you want to enjoy rum drinks and not worry about driving home, make a reservation at L'Americano Café, next to the town market. A shuttle will pick you up at your hotel and bring you back when you've finished dinner (blvd. Georges Mandel, 011-590/590-88-38-99, entrées from $12). In Deshaies, stay away from the main strip, where the restaurants are expensive. Instead, go to Barbuto, a tapas place on the water, for cappa santa, or seared sea scallops (Le Bourg, 011-590/590-89-87-28, barbutonyc.com, plates from $11).
How much time should we allow for each capital city?
A half day in Guadeloupe's Pointe-à-Pitre is plenty. Spend the morning shopping for traditional crafts and flavored rums at the Marché Couvert, on the corner of rues Peynier and Schoelcher, and then have lunch at the Paella Grill (29 rue Frébault, 011-590/590-82-12-34, lunch from $11).
In Martinique's Fort-de-France, you'll want a full day to explore the compact downtown. Some highlights: the colorful Schoelcher Library, built in Paris for the 1889 World Exposition and later shipped to Martinique (rue de la Liberté, free); La Savane, the main park in the center of the city; and Fort St.-Louis, a historic naval fort that's still an active naval base. Stop for the French-Creole cuisine at CyberDeliss, a café/bar six blocks west of La Savane. The owners love to serve—and talk about—their favorite island rums (113 rue Ernest Deproge, Point Simon, 011-596/596-78-71-43, entrées from $9).
We'd love to visit a rum distillery.
Guadeloupe's Musée du Rhum, at the Reimonenq Distillery in the village of Ste.-Rose, does a great job of explaining the process that turns sugar cane into rum. In addition to the historic stills and old cane-crushing machines, there's an interesting—if random—collection of model boats, butterfly specimens, and coiffes, or madras head wraps. From Pointe-à-Pitre, take the N2 and then just follow the signs (011-590/590-28-70-04, musee-du-rhum.fr, admission $9).
Unasked-for advice Book a tour to dive or snorkel at Guadeloupe's Cousteau Reserve. It's said that if you touch the head of the Jacques Cousteau statue, you'll have only good luck in the water (011-590/590-98-86-63, heures-saines.gp, $78).
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