Want the feel and taste of Paris without going to France? Guadeloupe is Paris by the beach, in the jungle, and in the mountains. It’s French down to their chocolate croissant souls and the ideal destination for a hike followed by a genuine French meal. Viva la Guadeloupe!
Guadeloupe is in the French Caribbean and is a part of the Lesser Antilles between Dominica and Puerto Rico. The country includes two main islands, Basse-Terre and Grande Terre, which are separated by the Salée River, and several interesting smaller islands. The capital of Guadeloupe is the city of Basse-Terre on the island of Basse-Terre
The country of Guadeloupe is administered by France as an overseas territory. Most French laws apply to Guadeloupe, and there is a large French influence everywhere one goes, such as an abundance of French cosmetics, wines, and cheeses. And visitors will find that the gorgeous beaches, like so many in Europe, can be topless.
Christopher Columbus discovered the two major Guadeloupian islands in 1493 and named the territory after our Lady of Guadalupe.
The French and the Spanish fought over the colonization of the islands, and slaves were brought in to work on the plantations, In 1816, France took over the permanent colonization of Guadeloupe, and slavery was finally abolished in 1848.
Parlez Vous Francais? When in Guadeloupe, a bit of high school French will go a long way. Everyone speaks French. Guadeloupe is Paris minus the Eifel Tower and snobbish waiters. Here, visitors can revel in major French designer clothes, French makeup, and perfumes. The city of Point-A-Pitre on Grande Terre is a shopper’s paradise, filled with French stores and boutiques. And delectable French food.
Dining is taken seriously in Guadeloupe. It would be a waste of time to look for a MacDonald. Fast-food places are very rare on the islands, where the French culinary arts, along with some Creole cuisine, rule supreme. The aroma of freshly baked French bread and flaky croissants are intoxicating. For a delightful French meal by the marina in Point-A-Pitre, the Bistro Zen has a tasty French menu, chocolate tarts for dessert, and the ubiquitous Guadeloupe rum cocktail.
Language Spoken in Guadeloupe
Guadeloupians speak French, with a few locals conversing in a Créole dialect. This is not an English-speaking country, and a pocket dictionary with some rudimentary French phrases will hold visitors in good stead.
Currency in Guadeloupe
Since Guadeloupe is essentially Paris-lite, it is no surprise that the Euro is the local currency.
Things to Do in Guadeloupe
Guadeloupe is a delightful mix of French sophistication and natural beauty with much to entertain visitors.
The annual two-month Guadeloupe Carnivale held from January through March is one of the most anticipated carnivals in the entire Antilles. The island archipelago is alive with fierce drum music to scare away the evil spirits, dancing in the streets, colorful costumes, parades, and beauty contests.
Hiking La Soufrière Hike, Basse-Terre
One of Guadeloupe’s major attractions and adventures is exploring its active volcano, La Soufriere located within the Guadeloupe National Park for a fabulous view of Basse-Terre and other surrounding islands. For those who get up early enough to catch the sunrise from the top, it is an unforgettable experience, including the stunning Chutes du Carbet waterfall. When hikers reach 950 meters, they will find a natural volcanic sulfur spa for a genuine soaking treat.
La Pointe des Châteaux, Grande-Terre
The Pointe des Chateaux may have Guadeloupe’s best Instagram moments. On the eastern region of Grand-Terre, there are the most picturesque, sculpted cliffs forming a natural piece of art where the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean meet. The waters are turbulent, but visitors can explore the coves. Clothing is entirely optional here, although bringing a picnic basket filled with French goodies is recommended to enjoy the view of surrounding islands.
Grand Cul-de-Sac Marin Natural Reserve Boat Tour
The eco-diversity of this reserve is best experienced on a boat tour to see the coral reefs, mangroves, lagoons, islets, and wildlife consisting of colorful fish, turtles, and sea urchins. The reserve is home to pelicans, herons, and kingfishers. Tucked between Basse-Terre and Grande-Terre, it is a snorkeling paradise. An English-speaking guide will be provided upon request.
Plage de Grande Anse, Basse-Terre
The Grande Anse Beach in Basse-Terre is one of the most stunning beaches on the island with its incomparable view and swaying palm trees. It is a huge beach, guarantying privacy and some isolation from crowds. There are vendors with fruit drinks and snacks.
Jacques Cousteau’s Underwater Reserve
Follow in the footsteps of Jacques Cousteau by exploring this underwater reserve in Basse-Terre Island with its bright coral and striking marine life. The warm volcanic hot springs create some unique fauna and flora in these waters. The springs also keep the waters warm and comfortable for the abundance of fish, such as barracudas, eels, lobsters, seahorses, and others, and for the snorkelers and divers who visit the reserve in search of sea life and shipwrecks.
Zoo de Guadeloupe, Parc des Mamelles, Basse-Terre
The Zoo de Guadeloupe is in the Guadeloupe National Park in the jungle forest on a trail filled with heart-stopping hanging rope bridges and lovely gardens leading to the zoo, which is home to 85 different animal species, including monkeys and jaguars. The fun part is that its lush jungle location makes it seem as if they are being viewed in the wild. There is also a special play area for children.
Best Regions to Visit in Guadeloupe
Basse-Terre is the most visited of Guadeloupe’s two major islands. Its landscape includes the active Soufriere volcano, unequaled opportunities for hiking the island’s green mountains, and several banana plantations. Amandiers and Cluny are both excellent beaches to visit.
One of the best restaurants on Basse-Terre is Rocher de Malendure with its wonderful panorama of Pigeon Island and the dive boats going to Pigeon Island. The fresh seafood is directly off the boats; their jumbo crayfish in cream and rum sauce is superb. Ste. Rose is on the north coast of Basse-Terre, with seven sugar refineries and the rum distillery Severin, where visitors can witness the stages of the rum-making process and enjoy some seafood in the dining room.
While in Ste. Rose, check out the sulfurous baths of Sofaïa for a relaxing soak.
Grande-Terre is the major beach region of Guadeloupe, and the Petit Havre Beach and the Datcha Beach are ideal for swimming and surfing. Visitors to the resort area of Le Gosier can indulge in all watersports, shopping, restaurants, and nightclubs. There is always the Casino du Gosier, where guests gamble while and the champagne flows freely.
The island of Marie-Galante is named after the ship Christopher Columbus was sailing at the time he discovered this charming isle. Marie-Galante is still unspoiled and natural with white sandy beaches and lush green hills an hour’s ferry ride from Pointe-a-Pitre. The main district is Grand-Bourg. A must-see is the Chateau Murat. This 19th-century sugar plantation is a historic exhibition of sugar and rum production spanning back to the 18th century and now serves as a museum. Remnants of the chateau can still be seen, as can the garden for medical plants. While on Marie-Galante, stroll the lovely Petite Anse beach and treat yourself to a French seafood meal at La Playa restaurant.
For an extended stay on Marie-Galante, there are several beach-front hotels available.
Les Saintes is a Guadeloupian get-away divided into two groups of even smaller islands, Terre-de-Bas and Terre-de-Haut. The views from either of the islands are stunning. The hotels are mostly on Terre-de-Haut by the beach. Visitors can indulge in a delectable French meal at the Au Bon Vivre, and they can stroll, relax, snorkel, and scuba dive. It’s a lovely village with red-roofed houses, with a Napoleon fort turned into a Guadeloupian museum. UNESCO lists Les Saintes Bay as one of the “most beautiful bays in the world.” It is, in effect, a picture postcard come to life.
Terre-de-Bas is more isolated than Terre-de-Haut, but it does have Grande Anse, a magnificent beach, and accommodation in its village, Petite-Anse, as well as French and Creole dining.
Best All-Inclusive Resort or Hotel in Guadeloupe
La Caravelle in Point-A-Pitre, Grande-Terre, is a tropical beachfront paradise unrivaled in its all-inclusive offerings. In addition to all-inclusive dining at the Hibiscus Restaurant, guests can enjoy the unlimited beach, fitness activities, and nightly entertainment. While adults can indulge their fantasies at La Caravelle, it is the children that may have the most fun. Their kids’ club has a trapeze and archery lessons and goodies at the Mango Bar. They frequently march through the property signing French songs they have learned in their club.
Best Resort or Hotel for Couples in Guadeloupe
Ecolodge Tendacayou in Basse-Terre is the perfect fantasy escape to paradise as it surrounds guests with the tropical forest and the Caribbean Sea providing some incredible views and opportunities for exploring. Spend time with nature in one of the resort’s 14 individual villas, huts, or even a treehouse, where only the chirping of birds will interrupt your romantic getaway. There are several indulgent spa packages, such as a milk bath at sunset with champagne, or a milk bath with a half-hour couple’s massage.
Best Resort or Hotel for Families in Guadeloupe
La Creole Beach and Spa is on Grande-Terre close to the village of Gosier and not far from Pointe-à-Pitre. The resort is set in a stunning tropical garden filled with palm trees and gorgeous exotic flowers and has a one-of-kind view of the beach and ocean. Creole cuisine is available at both restaurants. The resort offers ocean cruises, concerts, yoga classes, and pool workouts.
The kids’ club is free and has a wide variety of activities for children, such as treasure hunts, cooking lessons, and tours of the aquarium. For parents with lunch plans, the club will watch the children for you. Perfect for everyone!