GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATION

This vacationer's villa is situated on the leeward side of the French West Indian island of Guadeloupe which is located in the Lesser Antilles of the Caribbean.

The butterfly-shaped island of Guadeloupe combines the Caribbean complement of beautiful beaches and soaring mountains with an ambiance all its own. As a department of France, it is very French in its customs, its outlook and is an outpost of French gastronomy.

This extreme "Frenchness" is both good and not-so-good. For the islanders themselves it provides a strong sense of identity and security, but it also shuts them off to a large degree from the more open and cosmopolitan societies of the Caribbean community.

 

For the visitor, however, it presents a marvelous change of atmosphere from the British, Dutch and Spanish-American islands - a sample of France right in the heart of the West  Indies.

Non-observance of tipping for instance is prevalent and the menus are as varied and tempting as along the boulevards of Paris. Indeed, basically and classically French, the cuisine is richly supplemented by Creole island specialties, notably seafood.

 

Lying between the islands of Antigua and Dominica, Guadeloupe is, next to Trinidad, the largest of the Lesser Antilles.

The island is immensely attractive beginning with its overall shape, which, as already said, is that of a butterfly.

Actually the two wings are different islands, separated by a narrow strait, and each has its own name : Grande-Terre, the low lying side ; and Basse-Terre, the mountainous one.

 

Along the south shore of Grande-Terre are some of Guadeloupe's most popular beaches. However, truth be told : there are beaches all over the place on both sides of the island.

The wing of the butterfly called Basse-Terre is the high side. Indeed, its interior is simply one long mountain range, culminating in the volcano Soufrière, 4 800 feet high (which can be climbed by ambitious treckers who want to get a breath-taking view of Guadeloupe and its surrounding seas and satellite islands, weather permitting, of course).

 

To the north of Soufrière, cutting across the spine of Basse-Terre, is a road which brings the leeward-side and windward-side together. It is a gem of both engineering and scenery. The old way is an older road which runs right round the island, circling along the island's rim and which provides a half-day (fast) or full-day (slow) drive of marvelous beauty and scenic variety.

 

Indeed, the north and south western shores offer some of the finest and wildest  West Indian scenery. It is a region of bluffs and headlands, deep bays and scrub forest-covered valleys, and the road, now high, now low, curves through it like one of the corniches of the French Rivierra.

Taking both Grande-Terre and Basse-Terre, all around the butterfly, in a word, the most pervasive and appealing charm of guadeloupe is its almost limitless variety.

 

If that were not enough, Guadeloupe has a number of satellite islands (Marie-Galante and Désirade and Petite-Terre as well as Les Saintes which, by the way, has one of its bays listed by UNESCO as one of the most beautiful in the world) which have just as many varied well-worth seeing sites --- as "far-out" and almost primitive as any escapist could wish.

 

They can be reached by ferry-launch which ply twice a day between the main island and its satellites on a daily basis. Few Carib Islands can match them for loveliness and peace, and few have returned whithout having their heart stirred.

 

There is much more to behold and to experience in this archipelago of Guadeloupe, but you'll have to come and discover it all for yourself.

 

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