French Antilles Travel Guide
The French Antilles refers to a group of small islands just off the Caribbean coast of Venezuela revolving around Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint Martin and Saint Barthélemy. Still under French sovereignty, these islands carry a distinctively French ambiance set against an idyllic tropical backdrop.
Guadeloupe is the largest island, covered in luscious green mountains and ringed by excellent beaches. Known for its incredible French Creole cuisine, which is considered some of the best in the Caribbean, Guadeloupe has the added attraction of numerous small inns offering a real island experience.
Expect to see plenty of dancing on Guadeloupe, especially la biguine, which is said to have started here. Calypso, merengue, salsa and jazz are also big hits on this fun-loving island and any night out at a disco will be a memorable one.
Martinique has a culture oozing French flair to complement its stunning powder-white beaches. Most of Martinique’s interior is mountainous, with rainforests surrounding the impressive 3,897 foot Mount Pelée volcano in the north. Most of the islanders live in the capital Fort-de-France, a charming town where the lovely Creole residents create a vibe akin to New Orleans.
St Martin is peacefully divided between the French and the Dutch. For an island this small, St Martin packs a punch with its amazing restaurants, topnotch hotels and hyperactive nightlife. While the Dutch side is a buzz of cruise ships, partying and duty-free shopping, the French side is calm and quiet. It may not have much excitement but the French side savors its reputation as one of most chic spots around, best experienced in its capital Marigot.
Saint Barthélemy, better known as St Barts, is challenged only by Anguilla as the most sophisticated and luxurious island in the Caribbean. The ambiance on St Barts is overwhelmingly chic and Parisian. Culture is put in the back seat as well-heeled vacationers come for the great cuisine, picture perfect beaches and very expensive resorts.
St Barts is the island in the French Antilles where you are most likely to catch sight of a celebrity. Wander around the quaint waterfront boutiques and cafes of the capital Gustavia and you never know who you’ll bump into.