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Saint Barthelemy - L'Anse de Colombier, part of a natural marine reserve - f.m. photo

Saint Barthelemy - Baie des Flamands - the longest walkable beach on the island (about 700 meters) - f.m. photo

Practicals

Transport

St Maarten is a 40-minute ferry ride away. 

Roads:

There is no public transport on the island. The car and the scooter are basically the only way to circulate. The choice of a scooter is risky for the inexperienced, as there are a lot of steep slopes, roads are narrow, bumpy here and there, and very slippery during and right after a rain.  


Traffic is dense, with slowdowns during rush hour in Gustavia, towards Saint-Jean and Lorient. The speed limit is 50 km/h (31 mi/h) in all inhabited areas.

If you rent a car, choose a smaller model, as it will be easier to park and maneuver. A dozen rental companies have a counter at the airport, including the major international brands. The rates go up in the high season when it is imperative to make a booking.


Taxis

You can find a few at the airport or the port of Gustavia.  Some offer tours to discover the island: 60 Euro a 30 minutes tour to see the north-eastern half of Saint-Barth (Gustavia, Corossol, Colombier, Flamands, Anse des Cayes), and 80 Euro to discover the rest of the island in one hour. A 90 minutes full tour costs about 100 Euro. Not per person! Prices are for up to eight people.


St Barts - road traffic - k.s. photo

Saint Barthelemy - a plane of the St Barth Commuter airline - c.b. photo

Saint Barthelemy - Gustavia - port - f.m. photo

Saint Barthelemy - Gustaf III Airport - runway - f.m. photo

Saint Barthelemy - Rental Mini Mokes - St Barths’ emblematic car - from 125 EUR/day - f.m. photo

Accomodation

If you wish to rent a villa with a spectacular sea view, the price of 150,000 USD for a week should not scare you off. 

Food

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Saint Barthelemy - lobster bisque

Saint Barthelemy - Gustavia - Le Select Bar - Avoiding progress since 1949 - f.m. photo

Fun

Generally, all the parties end at around eight or ten in the evening, but every day you can find somewhere to dance from three in the afternoon. On Fridays at La Plage Club there are famous DJs and musicians performing live.

Every Saturday: Bagatelle. The barmaids all dress up in Marie Antoinette style costumes and wigs.
The Bagatelle is also famous for its truffle-flavored pizza. On the day of the French national holiday, it’s virtually impossible to reserve a table. Everybody gathers here to watch the fireworks.

Sunday is Nikki Beach. You can come here for free and – if you feel like it – dance on the table. Young and old come here to party, and whether you’re eight or eighty, you’re welcome to get up and dance. All the most famous DJs perform here.
Pizza sushi is also on the menu!
Champagne runs from 270 (Taittinger Brut) right down to 30 (!!!) (Mathusalem Cristal Roederer) You can even order Mathusalem Dom Perignon Rose Gold, but this is so inconceivably expensive that they don’t even list the price on the menu.
Crazy-rich tourists go through top-price champagne by the crateload. During the fireworks, they bring crates of champagne out to the tables and these big-shots drink it straight from the bottle, not bothering with glasses.” (Judy, 2016)


Saint Barthelemy - party

Saint Barthelemy - champagne price list

Health

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Saint Barthelemy - Shell Beach - water shoes may help - f.k. photo

Background

Saint Barthelemy - Gustavia - view from the Prefecture building - f.m. photo

Destination in brief

Saint Barthelemy is a Caribbean island, an overseas territory of France. St. Bart's, a shortened name, is in everyday use. French people like it that way: Saint-Barth. 

St. Bart's is an exclusive vacation destination, notedly,  terrible expensive. We may well say that St Bart’s is the most expensive vacation destination in the entire Caribbean.

The closest other island is Sint Marteen/St. Martin (northwest of St. Bart's). 

Size: 24 km² (9.2 mi²) - one main island and several small islets in the Leeward Islands - the mainland can be walked around in half a day

Population (in 2020) -  9,870 - White, Creoles (mulattos), Blacks, Guadeloupe Mestizos

The majority of the population is European descent; about half of them descended from the original settlers who came in the 17th century, the other half recent immigration from Metropolitan France.

Language: French (primary) and English 

Religion:62% Christian

Currency: Euro

Most common surname: Questel

History

In 1784–1875, Sweden traded Saint Barthelemy, this West Indian colony from France, in exchange for trading rights on Gothenburg (the largest Swedish port). In 1875 Sweden sold the territory back to France after a referendum where the locals voted for a re-unification with France. The Swedish colonial rule is reminded by the name of the capital city, Gustavia (King Gustaf III was the King of Sweden between 1772 and 1792). In Gustavia, some signs are both in French and Swedish. The official name of the airport is Gustaf III Airport.

After the French rule returned, Saint-Barthélemy had slept like Sleeping Beauty princess until 1956, when the prince, in the guise of Rockefeller, galvanized life into the island by the kiss of snobbism. Wealthy Americans, celebs started to frequent the island where the tropical Caribbean and the refined French taste have successfully mixed.

In 2012, as a so-called French overseas collectivity, the island also became an overseas European Union territory.



Nowadays

Part of the island's appeal is that there is no mass tourism. The price level keeps away backpackers, tour operation package consumers. It is forbidden to build a villa higher than a palm tree. Hotel investors better look elsewhere in the Caribbean region.

On Saint Barthelemy, prices are about 25% higher than in the expensive Paris.

The elite tourism makes the island rich. So much that since a few years ago, residents don't even have to pay taxes.

People


The first settlers of the island, the French, were Normans, Bretons, and from the region of Vendeé. Despite the almost hundred years of Swedish colonial rule, Swedes left a minimal cultural and genetic mark. In the first half of the 19th century, the Black slaves and the mulattos were three times more than the white settlers. But after 1857, when France abolished slavery, most freed slaves left the island to try their luck in more prosperous destinations. In the last two decades of the 19th century, basically, the descendants of the first settler families made up the population.  

Nowadays, these old rooted White French inhabitants are loyal to France, speak French (though with a slight Creole touch), and even keep few traditions of their descendant's original French region. They tend to dislike non-French business people who look for opportunities on the island. However, the younger generations of these families tend to be somewhat Americanised and don't look very different from California's surfer beach boys or selfie addict teenage girls.
Anyway, about half of the French population are new settlers from mainland France.    


Tourist etiquette

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Saint Barthelemy - beach ashtray - f.m. photo

Attractions

Beaches

Saint Barthelemy - Saint-Jean beach - f.m. photo

Saint Barthelemy - The Gouverneur Beach (Anse du Gouverneur) - f.m. photo

Saint Barthelemy - Anse des Cayes (northwest of the island) - f.m. photo

Saint Barthelemy - Shell Beach - f.k. photo

Gustavia

Saint Barthelemy - the bay of Gustavia - f.m. photo

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