Saint-Barthélemy is a French island located in the Caribbean at 17°54'N 62°50'W . Administratively it is part of Guadeloupe, which is an overseas department of France. The island is also known as Saint Barts, Saint Barths, or Saint Barth. In 2003 the population voted in favour of seccesion of Guadeloupe in order to form a separate territorial collectivity. Saint-Barthélemy was first claimed by the French in 1648, and except for a century as a Swedish colony, between 1785 and 1878, it has remained in French hands. Located approximately 150 miles east of Puerto Rico, it lies near the islands of Saint Martin, Saba, and Anguilla. Most hotels in Saint Barts are small and exclusive, but private villas are also a available. There are no timeshares. Saint Barts has a small airport (IATA identifier SBH) that is served by small regional commercial aircraft and charters. Most visiting aircraft carry less than twenty passengers, such as the Twin Otter, a common sight around Saint Barths and throughout the northern West Indies. It is rumored that Jimmy Buffett wrote "Cheeseburger in Paradise" at now famous Le Select, a restaurant and bar located in Gustavia. Gustavia, which is the main town of the island, was named after King Gustav III of Sweden, and remains as a reflection of the Swedish period.
The principal gateway to St. Barths (SBH) is through Juliana Airport in nearby Dutch St.Maarten, where flights arrive daily from both the USA and Europe. International carriers arriving at Juliana include American Airlines, Continental Airlines and US Air from the USA, and Air France, Corsair and KLM from Europe. From St. Maarten, WINAIR, Air Caraïbes, and St-Barth Commuter, make the ten minute shuttle flights to St. Barths(SBH). Air France and Corsair also fly regularly from France to Guadeloupe. From Guadeloupe, Air Caraïbes offers a few direct flights to St. Barths (45 minutes) and others via St-Martin departing at times meant to accommodate the arrival of the bigger planes from France. Air Caraïbes also has sereral flights a week between San Juan and St. Barths via St. Martin. And new this season (03/04) Inter Island Express based in San Juan, offers two direct flight a week from San Juan to St. Barths.(SBH) Locally based charter flights are also available. The airstrip in St. Barths is small, and pilots are required to have special training to land. For many, the landing, especially on a windy day, is an adventure in itself.
Generally speaking, no accomodation is really cheap on this island... On the other side, a very high quality of service and beautiful buildings. So it remains somewhat coherent. About half the beds which are available at St.Barths are privately held (villas and apartments). There are a very few number of hotels on the island, all very well integrated in the landscape and...very small. The largest hotel has 76 rooms, the others have half of that. This destination is completely different as the other Caribbean places :-)
We stayed at La Banane, which is really a great. Very nice people here, who still know what is "service". We felt at home! On the other side, the hotel war renovated in 2000 and it is amazing. Just 9 bungalows, but ... hey, great ones. We were *very very* happy with our choice :-)
St. Barths is a duty free port, and shoppers will be delighted with the range and number of shops: from a shaded table by the side of the road, to the elegant displays and marble floors reminiscent of Rue du Faubourg St. Honoré in Paris. The highest concentration of shops is in Gustavia, followed by St-Jean, with its several shopping centers. It is wise to allocated more than a single afternoon to see what's what and where's where.[via St-Barths.com]
One of the best things about St. Barts is the quality and variety of the food. This is true not only in numerous local restaurants, but in many local homes and villas as well, due to the unusually wide range of foodstuffs available at local grocery stores, and due to the quality of local catering services. Shopping for food in St. Barts can be a delightful social pastime in itself.
We tested the following restaurants, see our appreciation:
|K'fé Massaï||very good||Lorient|
|La route des Boucaniers||very good||Gustavia|
|The Hideaway||good||St Jean|
|La Gloriette||disappointing||Grand Cul de Sac|
|Pipiri Palace||very good||Gustavia|
|Wall House Restaurant||very good||Gustavia|
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