Guadeloupe mixes the best of France – a fully modern infrastructure and fantastic food – with a local culture that people here are proud of and want to share. Guadeloupe’s two main islands look like the wings of a butterfly and are joined together by a mangrove swamp.

Guadeloupe, sometimes known as the Butterfly Island, 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.




Grande-Terre, the eastern wing of the island, has a string of beach towns that offer visitors every variety of fun in the sun known to humankind. From surfing schools to beach bars to long stretches of beautiful sand where azure water laps at the toes of French mademoiselles, it’s all here.



Basse-Terre, the western wing, is home to the national park, crowned by La Soufrière volcano. Hiking trails and a Jacques Cousteau underwater reserve offer adventure for those who want more go than slow in their holidays. But for the gourmets and sun worshippers there are still plenty of places to recharge while everyone else tires themselves out. South of the butterfly-shaped ‘mainland’ of Guadeloupe are a number of small archipelagos that give a taste of Guadeloupe’s yesteryear. Ranging from sheer chill on La Désirade to the cosmopolitan Terre-de-Haut and the largely rural Marie-Galante, the smaller islands each have their own character and round out the long list of ingredients that make Guadeloupe.



Marie Galante, the biggest island out of mainland Guadeloupe.


Saint-Barthélemy, the jet set island.



Les Saintes, composed of Terre de Haut and Terre de Bas, one of the most beautiful bays.

La Désirade, dry and cliffy.

Petite Terre, uninhabited and untamed.

Saint Martin, the French part of Saint Martin adjacent to Sint Maarten, the Dutch part.


Facts about Guadeloupe

Visa None required for residents of the US, UK, Canada, the EU, Australia and New Zealand.
Money euro (€); €1 = US$1.56 = UK£0.79
Official name La Guadeloupe
Departure tax None
Area 1434 sq km
Population 451, 000
Famous for Its butterfly shape
Country code 590
Language French, Creole
Capital Basse-Terre
Phrase Pas ni problem (No problem, no worries)
People Guadeloupeans


The History

In the pre-Columbian period, Arawaks and later Caribs moved to the region from coastal South America. European exploration led to conquest, to colonization, to the eradication of the indigenous population, to the introduction of sugarcane cultivation, and a plantation economy that was dependent on African slave labor. Under French colonial domination since 1635, with brief periods of English occupation, Guadeloupe was shaped by French politics. The first abolition of slavery (1794–1802) and the almost total elimination of the white plantocracy during

The French Revolution had far-reaching social and economic consequences. After the final abolition of slavery in 1848, a crisis of labour and capital led to the introduction of Indian indentured laborers, to the entry of metropolitan capital, and to the centralization of the sugar industry.
During the twentieth century, the local population of color sought to redress political, social, and economic inequalities. With the passage of the Assimilationist Law on 19 March 1946, Guadeloupe became an overseas department of France. This process ushered in wide-scale transplantation of French administrative and political superstructures and educational and social security systems. Integration with France precipitated a decline in both export and subsistence agriculture, a growth in the service sector, a rise in unemployment, massive emigration, and increasing tensions between Guadeloupeans and metropolitan French. In 1974, Guadeloupe was designated a region, ushering in a policy of decentralization.

Read more: Culture of Guadeloupe - history, people, clothing, women, beliefs, food, customs, family, social


Climate and When to Go

It’s no accident that December to May is when most people visit Guadeloupe; the weather is warm and dry at this time.

Pointe-à-Pitre’s average daily high temperature in January is 28°C (82°F) while the low average is 19°C (66°F). In July the average daily high temperature is 31°C (88°F) while the low average is 23°C (73°F).

The annual rainfall in Pointe-à-Pitre is 180cm. February to April is the driest period, when measurable rain falls an average of seven days a month and the average humidity is around 77%. The wettest months are July to November, when rain falls about 14 days a month and the average humidity reaches 85%.

Because of its height, the Basse-Terre side is both cooler and rainier than Grande-Terre. Its highest point, La Soufrière, averages 990cm of rain per year. The trade winds, called alizés, often temper the climate.


What to do?!

Le Moule

Le Moule served as an early French capital of Guadeloupe, and was an important Native American settlement in pre-colonial times. It's an authentic provincial town with a bustling main street, fish market, cinema, a few art galleries and a scenic harbor. Major archeological excavations have taken place in the area and Guadeloupe's archeological museum, on the outskirts of town, is well worth a visit.

The wide town square has a few historic buildings, including the town hall and a Neoclassical Catholic church. Along the river are some discernible waterfront ruins from an old customs building and a fortress dating back to the original French settlement.

There's also a lovely tranquil beach with reef-protected waters and plenty of shade at L'Autre Bord, about 1km (0.6mi) east of town. Baie du Moule, on the west side of town, is popular with kayakers and surfers and has its own surf school.



Musée St-John Perse

Musée St-John Perse occupies an attractive 19th-century colonial building with ornate wrought-iron balconies. The museum is dedicated to the renowned poet and Nobel laureate Alexis Léger (1887-1975), better known as St John Perse, who grew up just down the street at No 54. The house offers both a glimpse of a period Creole home and displays on Perse's life and work.



Réserve Cousteau

Jacques Cousteau brought Pigeon Island to international attention a couple of decades ago by declaring it to be one of the world's top dive sites. The waters surrounding the island are now protected as the Réserve Cousteau, an underwater park teeming with fish and coral reefs to explore.


More attractions/sights at:



Shopping and Markets

The luxury items that you can purchase in Guadeloupe are all imported from France. You'll find lingerie, perfumes, designer fashion, jewelry, china, cheese, patés, and liquor all with French labels. If you are looking to really support the local economy, try picking up products made right in Guadeloupe. As you browse the markets, you'll find dolls dressed in madras, fishermen hats woven of split bamboo, woven items, spices arranged in baskets, coffee, and locally distilled rum.

The best shopping to be had in Guadeloupe can be found in the city of Pointe-A-Pitre. Here there are a number of open air markets, where ladies sell spices and handicrafts alongside food booths. The Central Market is located at Place de la Victoire, the main square. Frebault, Nozieres, and Rue Schoelcher are the main streets to wonder down for boutiques featuring French products. Also, at the Darse on the first Sunday each month, there is a flea market selling simliar products as the open air markets. Moule, Sainte-Anne and Saint-Claude also hold flea markets on alternating Sundays.
The official currency in Guadeloupe, like in France, is the Euro (€). The United States Dollar (USD), is accepted in many stores, however, change may be given in the Euro. Major credit cards are also widely accepted.


The shopping scene in Guadeloupe is not large, but it is good none-the-less. If you are interested in French products, or Guadeloupan made souvenirs, you'll find them all as you explore the island.


Traditional Events

Zoo Regatta
Usually held in mid-January. The best teams from all over the world compete in this regatta on Sun Fast 37 yachts. Parties, sporting events, spectacles, and childrens' activities abound on Gosier beach to continue the celebration. See Web site for dates: (French only)


Traditionally starts the first Sunday in January and runs through Ash Wednesday. Music everywhere, costume and singing contests, dance marathons... the streets of Guadeloupe come alive for this yearly celebration.


Route du Rhum
Begins End of October
A single-hulled boat race that takes place every four years. The race begins in Saint-Malo and finishes in Point à Pitre.


Cocoa Festival “Saveur Cacao”
In Vieux-habitants, the 3rd week end of April. An exhibition where you can buy all kinds of chocolate products, guided visits of coffee plantations, tastings, and more.

Tour de Guadeloupe regatta
April. Sail boats depart from Gosier and pass by Marie-Galante, Deshaies, and les Saintes before returning to Gosier. Zouk music and ti-punch are offered every night!

Festival de la Guadeloupe
Music, foklore, gastronomy, and traditional celebrations from the beginning of July to the end of August.

Chanté Nwel and Noël Kakado
November to December
The Chanté Nwel are traditional Christmas carols of the French West Indies, which stray at times from strict religious tradition. Throughout the period of Advent, in practically every commune, villagers get together on weekend evenings to celebrate the approach of Christmas with singing. Gathered around the kakado crib (named after a small, blackish river crayfish formerly eaten at Christmas), set up in a different place each year, the people sing carols, hand down ancestral traditions and eat traditional dishes.

Festival de Jazz de Pointe-à-Pitre (Pointe-à-Pitre Jazz Festival)
Both international and local musicians perform in Place de la Victoire for this jazz festival also known as a “crossroads of Creole music.” Workshops, exhibitions and a whole host of activities (including a poster competition) take place during the festival, which each year looks at a different theme.

More events at:



Creole cuisine is at the crossroads between the different influences of France, the Caribbean and Africa. The two basic ingredients are fish and fruit. Take a trip to the market to try out all the exotic fruits you may have never even seen before. And don't forget, for apéritifs (or at any other time of day), ti-punch, the national drink is definitely the way to go.

Guadeloupe hosts an extraordinary variety of fruit and vegetables, otherwise available only in exotic supermarkets. In addition to pineapple and bananas (bearing evocative names such as “get dressed young man” , “gimme more” or “God save me some”), lime (basic ingredient of the island’s compulsory punch), passion fruit or maracuja (delicious in sorbets) and guavas and mangoes fill West Indian fruit stalls. Coconuts are also a must, just as typical local vegetables like maniocs, cristophines (a type of local turnip) or sweet potatoes.

This spiky crustacean with its long antennae is the king of Guadeloupe, even though if it were up to him, he would probable trade this title with anyone willing to take it…The crayfish is the bait the tourist is sure to get hooked on due to its quality and more than reasonable price - compared to Metropolitan wallets that is. Breeders compete in offering exceptional quality, and consequently the crayfish is on every menu, served with sauces of various taste and colour. Not so long ago, however, this charming reddish animal was considered “poor man’s bread”, and was eaten by fishermen only when fish were scarce and hard to find! It came to be considered the pearl of West Indian cuisine as its popularity grew to a craze in Metropolitan France. Local restaurants today offer incredible promotions on whole crayfish, and the offers sometimes even reach “all you can eat” levels.

Local specialties
Accra : cod fritters with shrimps.
Bélélé : tripes garnished with bread balls (Specialty of Marie-Galante.
Blaff : fish or seafood boiled in a spicy broth.
Boudin : black or white pudding, often extremely well-prepared, even in more modest establishments. In certain restaurants, this specialty is prepared of “lambi” a special type of sea snail, quite rare and delicious.
Calalou : green soup made from prawns and herbs, vegetables with crab or pork.
Chélou : dish prepared of beef variety meet, mutton and rice.
Chiquetaille de morue : shredded and grilled cod, served with vinaigrette sauce.
Christophine : vegetables served in salad or au gratin.
Colombos : dish prepared from all kinds of meat, though most typically lamb, chicken or goat.
Dombré : a Guadeloupe specialty. Flour balls cooked with dry vegetables.
Féroce : a mixture of avocado, cod, manioc flour and peppers.
Macadam : a Martinique specialty: a cod broth mixed with cooked rice.
Matoutou : crab fricassee.
Pâté en pot : thick soup of mutton variety and vegetables.
Poulet boucané : smoked chicken prepared on a closed barbecue equipped with a chimney. The meat is placed on the top of the device, and is cooked slowly in smoke.
Souskai : marinade of salt, garlic and lime.
Ti-nain morue : a typical Creole dish of dry cod and banana, a breakfast specialty for certain locals. It’s extremely invigorating, and will definitely fill you with energy for the day.
Touffé : braised meat.

Here's a traditional recipe for you to try!


Bananas Flambee Recipe


2 servings


1/2 stick butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
Pinch ground cinnamon
2 bananas, sliced in rounds and tossed with the juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 cup dark rum
Vanilla ice cream







Melt the butter gently in a large saute pan. Add the brown sugar and stir to combine. Add the cinnamon and cook until the mixture is thick and bubbly. Toss in the bananas.

Turn the heat up to high, pull the pan off the burner and add the rum and tip into the flame to allow the flame to "JUMP" into the pan and set on fire! Do this carefully and respectfully but have fun, it's all about the show.

Spoon over ice cream and try not to eat it all yourself.


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Catherine Castelain
Date Last Modified: 4/3/15
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