Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Cruising to the French Caribbean

Looking to season your next cruise vacation with a bit of French flavor? That’s easy to do when you choose an itinerary that visits an island or two in the "French Caribbean"!

Colonized by France in 1635, Martinique has subsequently remained a French possession. Exceptional French food, French music and fashion, make the island a paradise for Francophiles. (A bit of island trivia…Napoleon's Empress Josephine was born on the island in 1763). Most cruisers spend their day on the island relaxing on one of the many beautiful beaches (swim tops optional) or exploring the winding streets and colorful markets of the island's capital, Fort-de-France. A popular excursion is a visit to the glorious Jardin de Balata, home to a stunning collection of over 3,000 tropical plants, as well as several ponds with lilies, stairs, and a massive bamboo forest. A must do at the gardens is a stroll across an unnerving treetop ladder pathway high up in the canopy for its incredible panoramic views!

Shaped like a butterfly, Guadeloupe is actually two large Caribbean islands connected by a bridge over the Rivière Salée. Cruise ships can dock on either side.  Pointe-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe’s largest
city, is located on the eastern side known as Grande Terre.  The shops offer a large selection of French goods such as fine wines, designer fashions, French perfumes, jewelry, lace work, and cosmetics. Guadeloupe National Park is on the western island, Basse-Terre.  Here you’ll find the active La Soufriere volcano and acres of tropical forest. The park is enormous, making up most of this half of the island. The best way to experience it is to hike a few of the countless trails, ranging in all difficulty levels. Although hiking the volcano is strenuous, the way to the waterfall, Cascade aux Ecrevisses is an easy stroll on a paved path. Not far from the falls is a picnic area and swim hole!

Saint Martin is an island split between the French collectivity of Saint-Martin and the Dutch territory of Sint Maarten. It is always a favorite stop for Caribbean cruise ship passenger! The French side is known for Orient Beach, reputed as much for its natural beauty and setting as it is for being the island´s foremost swimsuit optional beach. Water sport facilities are available, such as jet skis, sailing boats, and paragliding. The town of Grand Case, a former fishing village, is the place to go for delicious French Gourmet food. Marigot, the capital of the French side of the island, has become a mecca for duty-free shopping, with a focus on luxury and French fashion. There is also a market that’s fun to visit with lots of craft stands. Here, creators, artists or simply vendors lay out their wares every day of the week except Sunday.

St. Barthélemy (also known as St. Barts and St. Barth) is a small, volcanic island located in the northwest Caribbean Sea is also the Caribbean’s most elite and most expensive island! The capital city, Gustavia, is quite picturesque with its charming gingerbread-trimmed cottages and yacht-filled harbor. There are chic boutiques, galleries, and an open-air market. St. Barts offers the best shopping in the Caribbean, and since it’s a duty-free island it’s easy to justify a splurge…think Hermès, Chopard, and Louis Vuitton! Well I can dream, can’t I? For a more affordable way to spend the day, St. Barts has over 20 beaches, all gifted with gleaming white sand. Few are crowded, even in peak season. All are public and free!

No comments:

Post a Comment