The town that could endure several earthquakes – this modern metropolis connects the both parts of the island and is popular among sailors because of its beautiful natural port…
On the island of Guadeloupe, which is a French overseas department as well as being part of the Lesser Antilles, lays the town of Pointe a Pitre, the largest city and widely regarded as the economic capital though not the administrative center, a position which is filled by Basse-Terre. With such statistics, the city has a very good potential to attract some serious crews.
Though not certain, it is believed that the name derives from the name of a Dutch sailor who settled on a promontory overlooking the Hogs Islet, just south of today’s modern town. Since his name was Pitre, the name literally means “Headland of Pitre”. Later explanations derived the name Pitre from the Spanish pitera which means agave, plants that were used to make ropes.
Travel & Arrival
Being the economic capital of Guadeloupe certainly has its perks, such as its own airport, located at 3km north of downtown Pointe a Pitre and bearing the same name as the town, alternatively being known to travelers as La Raizet Airport. It acts as the main hub of Air Caraibes, because it’s the largest of the 6 airports on the archipelago. tourists can book a flight with either of these airlines: Air France, Air Canada, American Eagle or Corsair.
Another fun way of traveling to the island is by boat. The port is suited for the big cruise ships which dock here on a daily basis, bring the hoards of holidaymakers to the Caribbean shores. Also, there are numerous ferry companies making trips around the neighboring islands, enabling you to expand your horizons with a day trip. The only choice you’ll have to make is between the fast and modern ferries (comfortable and with air conditioning) or the older but somewhat nostalgic boats.
Avant & Apres Sail
Sadly, with economic growth, the City of Pointe a Pitre lost that colonial French charm. There are few historical buildings that remain standing due to the many disasters that have plagues the city in the past, mainly earthquakes and fires, compelling the locals to always rebuild from scratch. Even the famous cathedral has been rebuilt twice before. The other gathering place for visitors is the lively central square, Place de la Victoire.
The waterfront also constitutes an attraction, with its many shops, restaurants and boutiques, not to mention that exotic atmosphere generated by all the commotion, the colors and the aromas. There are also a few museums around the center area in case any of your sailors wants to get a taste of the colonial times, such as the Musee Saint-John Perse and Musee Victor Schoelcher. Outside of town, you can marvel at the Fort Fleur D’Epee, which was built in the 18th century.
The word of the day when it comes to food and eating out is French cuisine, but with that Creole twist which many gourmets consider enticing. Among the favorites are various fish dishes or rack of lamb, prepared with savory herbs and spices. Prices fall mostly in the middle range, but there are, as in any town, those fancy places that will overcharge for a simple meal.
Moving on to shopping now, which is a great tradition in Pointe a Pitre, not to mention the favorite pastime of all the visiting tourists. Clothes and accessories rank supreme, but jewelry and perfumes (many made in France) are also popular shopping choices. The two main streets where shopaholics converge regularly are Rosebleu and Rue Frebault. For more traditional souvenirs, head down to the waterfront.
Actions and Events
Lots of the festivities going on in Pointe a Pitre have something to do with the town’s Creole heritage. In January and February you’ll get a glimpse of the Carnival which goes on during the weekends with loud music and colorful costumes, in March you can participate in the Gardel Trophy Race for yachts and crews, in April there’s the Festival of Fish and the Sea, in June there’s the Jet Ski World Championship, in August there’s the famous Festival of the Women Cooks lasting 5 days and in December you can check out the Jazz Festival going on.