Guadeloupe

Capital Basse-Terre
Currency Euro (EUR)
Population 452,776 (July 2006 est.)
Country code +590
Time zone UTC-4

Guadeloupe, known as Gwadloup in the local creole, and sometimes known as the Butterfly Island (French: I'ile Papillon) on account of the shape of two of its major islands, is a group of islands in the eastern Caribbean, and is a French overseas department. It is located southeast of Puerto Rico.

Map of Guadeloupe

Islands

Cities

Grande Terre

Other destinations

Don't miss the spectacular waterfalls in the jungle of Basse-Terre (Carbet Falls). Some are within 5–10 minutes walking distance from the nearest parking lot, some require at least 3–4 hours of hiking (those are, of course less frequented by other tourists and you might find yourself alone at a spectacular waterfall in the middle of nowhere - an amazing experience!).

The local rum distilleries offer tours (check for opening times as they may very from season to season) which are certainly worth the while since rum production is a very integral part of Guadeloupe's economy. And sampling the local rums is definitely worth the while.

Even though they might not be the best way to get around the island, a ride on the bus is still an experience you should not miss. Cheap, full of locals, conducted by fearless drivers, you can enjoy the beautiful Caribbean panorama to the sound of Guadeloupean zouk music. Some routes are not good for passengers with weak stomachs.

Understand

Façade of Fort Napoléon des Saintes, Terre-de-Haut Island, Îles des Saintes

Guadeloupe has been a French possession since 1635 except for the years 1813-1814 when it came into Swedish possession as a consequence of the Napoleonic Wars. The island of Saint Martin is shared with the Netherlands; its southern portion is named Sint Maarten and is part of the Netherlands Antilles and its northern portion is named Saint-Martin and is part of Guadeloupe.

Guadeloupe is an archipelago of nine inhabited islands, including Basse-Terre, Grande-Terre, Marie-Galante, La Desirade, Iles des Saintes (2), Saint-Barthélemy, Iles de la Petite Terre, and Saint-Martin (French part of the island of Saint Martin).

Climate

Subtropical tempered by trade winds; moderately high humidity.

Terrain

Basse-Terre is volcanic in origin with interior mountains; Grande-Terre is low limestone formation; most of the seven other islands are volcanic in origin.

Get in

Passports and visas

Being an integrated part of France, Guadeloupe is considered as European as Paris politically, so European Union immigration rules apply.

By plane

From the Caribbean

From North America

From South America

From Europe

For more information, you can have a look at Guadeloupe Airport website .

From Guadeloupe, to travel in the surrounding places, here is an idea of the prices (roundtrip): Trinidad ~250 €, Barbade ~260 €, Puerto Rico ~300 €, Dominican Republic ~350 €, Cuba ~550 €

You can obtain information at Agence Penchard, 1 bis rue de la République 97100 Basse-Terre, Tel 0590 812 712 Fax 0590 810 711

By car

From some neighbouring islands, you can travel with your car on ferry companies (See section by boat).

By boat

From Martinique, Dominica, Saint Lucia, Marie Galante, Les Saintes: Express des Iles , Brudey Frères , Star Ferries .

Get around

By car

Cars can be hired at the airport in Pointe-à-Pitre. The main roads are of the same quality as metropolitan France, but smaller roads are often uneven, pot-holed and frankly dangerous. Prudence is required! Drivers are often undisciplined, but rarely aggressive.

By boat

Talk

See also: French phrasebook

French is the official language, although Guadeloupean Créole (very different from French) is the native language. Everyone speaks French but few people understand English. Most people working in the tourism industry will speak English and sometimes Spanish or German.

See

The first and second cascades of the Carbet Falls

Natural beauty is perhaps Guadeloups main attraction, and tourists flock to its sandy beaches, azure waters and vast forests. The southern coast of Grande-Terr is the main resort area, where you'll find developed, beautiful beaches and calm waters. It's a good place to kick back and enjoy a cocktail in one of the beach bars or join the many French women bathing in the Caribbean sun. Or, head for one of the many diving schools and explore underwater wildlife. For a fun day trip, hop on a ferry service around the scenic eight islands cluster of Les Saintes, skirting Guadeloupe's southern coast. The gorgeous and rustique island of Marie-Galante makes another perfect trip for a day or even two, as it has lovely scenery, great sands, 19th century windmills and sugar cane plantations to see.

In contrast to the rolling hills and flat plains landscape of Grande-Terr, Basse-Terre (the western wing of the island) has a rough volcanic relief. Here you'll find the splendid Parc National de la Guadeloupe, a 74,100-acre protected rainforest with plenty of trails for expert and novice hikers. The park is home to the 1467m high peak of the La Soufrière volcano, the highest mountain peak in the Lesser Antilles. On its lower slopes are the grand Carbet Falls, a series of 3 waterfalls on the Carbet River and one of Gouadeloup's main attractions. For wildlife lovers, the Zoological and Botanical Park of Guadeloupe offers a great insight in tropical flora and fauna and its animal collection included rare and endangered species.

Basse-Terre city, the administrative capital of Guadeloupe, is home to a range of colonial buildings. Furthermore, there are the 19th century Cathedral of Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul, the main square and adjoining Jardin Pichon. In Pointe-à-Pitre, there are museums, a bustling creole market place and aquarium and of course the impressive colonial fort to explore.

Do

Scuba diving and snorkeling. There is an amazing assortment of tropical fish, even in water less than one metre deep. For those who can't swim, glass bottomed boat trips are on offer.

There are many festivals to attend to in Guadeloupe. In Guadeloupe they call them "parties on the street". They use colourful ribbons and tie them round their wrists to resemble the colours of all the nations. Their parties last all through the night until the early morning. They sometimes call them "swatson".

Buy

Eat

Not to be missed, the plate Colombo (chicken, rice, curry), imported from India, has become the typical regional plate. the expected cost for food is anywhere from 4.99 to 38.99

Drink

The local drink is white rum. Do try the "'Ti Punch" (Petit Punch/small Punch) (rum, lime, and sugar cane/brown sugar). Packs a wallop, so be prepared to melt into the island way of life.

Sleep

Work

For European people coming from an EU country, working in Guadeloupe is allowed without problem. If you're from outside the EU, you will probably need a work permit - check with the French Embassy in your country. Do not forget though that the unemployment rate is around 28%. But if you work in the health sector (doctor, nurse), it will be much easier. Else you could find a job in bars, restaurants, and/or nightclubs. The better is to have a precise idea of what you want to do, inform yourself and prospect before going there.

Voluntary service: Volontariat Civil à l'Aide Technique (VCAT). Conditions: you must be French or from another EU-member state or a country belonging to the European Economic Area. You must be over 18 and under 28 years old (inclusive). You must not have had your civic rights revoked by a court or have been convicted of certain offences. VCAT , Préfecture Guadeloupe .

Stay safe

The main tourist areas (city center of Point-à-Pitre, Le Gosier, St. Anne, St. Felix...) are pretty safe, especially by day. When it gets dark, you should avoid walking around in Point-à-Pitre alone and stay on the main roads and plazas and be aware of smaller side streets. Always try to keep a low profile as a tourist to avoid attracting unwanted attention.

Stay healthy

There is no particular disease but you should protect yourself from the sun. Sanitary and medical facilities in Guadeloupe are good. Health care in Guadeloupe is controlled by a state-owned organisation (Sécurité Sociale). Doctors are available in almost every village. Tap water is usually safe for consumption. Public sources of water are unsafe if labeled with "Eau non potable" (no drinking water). Visitors from European Union should bring an E111 form with them. Ask details at your local health care organisation.

Emergency phone numbers

Respect

While officially a part of France, the country does not have a very Europeanized way of life. In fact, life in the Caribbean has a much slower pace. Busses run very infrequently, taxis are hard to find, smaller stores open or close not always on time, queuing in stores is sometimes very time consuming... Try to fall into the local pace and do not complain about minor annoyances as Guadeloupeans will see that as an offense to their way of life. And they are proud of the distinction between caribbean and metropolian (French) life style!

Connect

Phones

Country code: 590

Dialing within Guadeloupe: all numbers have 10 digits. Landlines begin by 0590 and mobile phones by 0690.

Dialing to Guadeloupe: international prefix + 590 + phone number without the first 0 (this leads to dial twice 590 which is normal). If you dial from France, just use the 10 digits number.

Dialing from Guadeloupe: the international prefix is 00.

Calling to a mobile phone is more expensive than to a landline. Number beginning by 0800 are free phone. Number beginning by 089 are premium-rate.

Few foreign mobile phone companies offer international roaming to Guadeloupe so double-check before leaving. Your company should provide specific roaming to Guadeloupe since it has deferent mobile phone companies than in mainland France.

Alternatively, you should be able to get a Pay-as-you-go SIM card from various locations. There are two companies offering wireless services: Bouygues Telecom Caraïbe and Orange Caraïbe .

Post

Post offices are found in all cities. Letter boxes are colored in yellow.

Rates

Less than 20g (postcard, letter with one or two pages in a regular envelop) :

The basic stamp for regular mail is red with the head of "Marianne" (the Republic logo). It does not carry its value and can therefore be used even after a price increase. It is sold in all Post Offices, Bureaux de Tabacs (Tobacco sellers identified by a red lozenge) and postcard vendors. The latter may also carry other common stamps.

In most Post Offices you will find an automatic machine (yellow) with a scale and a screen. Just put your mail on the scale, tell the machine (French or English) the destination, pay the indicated amount and the machine will deliver a printed stamp.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Thursday, December 31, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.