My first trip to Pointe a Pitre was in 1990 when I first cruised the Caribbean from St. Lucia to the BVI. This was a marvelous trip that lasted some three weeks on a gorgeous Morgan 60 schooner that was a crewed charter yacht at the Moorings in the BVI. At that time I knew that I wanted to spend the rest of my life cruising these islands. It took a while, but here I am.
Guadeloupe is what we call the “butterfly islands” because of their shape. There is a bridge that links the two sides but it only opens three times a day and the area is very shallow around it. At that time we tried to get through it but went aground. This trip we kept Swan Song gently anchored in Isle de Saintes, part of the archipelago of Guadeloupe some 18 miles from the mainland.
Pointe a Pitre is a mixture of 1950's square concrete buildings and older French style buildings. I fell in love with it immediately as it reminded me so very much of the French Quarter where I had a Creole Cottage, as a pier d tete from 1975 to 1986. I have always love the French culture and food and totally enjoy the French islands in the Caribbean.
Unfortunately, for Americans, the Euro is so much stronger than the dollar that it is very expensive for us to visit here. A story relating to this concerns our fuel purchases – When we were in Venezuela we bought 1,500 gallons of diesel for Swan Song for $80. When we were in Martinique, about four months ago, we bought 18 gallons of gasoline for Leda, our dinghy, and paid $120. This show the high price of gas in French islands.
I love the older homes in Pointe a Pitre. Just as in New Orleans, the upper floors are where people live either renting or owning flats. The ground floor are shops ranging from rather elegant boutiques, to catering to the cruse ship tourists, or selling clothing and house hold items to the local residents – some are even warehouses. The Guadalupean women, wearing brightly colored clothing, sell scarves, sarongs, and ladies underwear out of canvas bags on the sidewalks as well as cobblers repairing shoes on little tables on wheels while their client sits on a box on the sidewalk.
The French are great sailors and many internation regattas are held here. Other special areas are the flower mart, the market, lovely beaches and old sugarcane plantations.
You will find some of the history of Quadaloupe below -
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 labor 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.
The revolutionary hero Louis Delgrès, who committed suicide in 1802 rather than be subjugated to the restoration of slavery, is credited with starting the formation of a national consciousness.
The first independence movements had their origins in Antillean student organizations in France and the decolonization movement after World War II.
The Groupe d'Organisation Nationale de la Guadeloupe was formed in the mid-1960s; in the early 1970s the independentist party—the Union pour la Libération de la Guadeloupe—was founded, and in 1981 the Mouvement Populaire pour une Guadeloupe Indépendante was created. Nationalist activity has focused on political demonstrations, trade-union strikes, electoral abstention, and affirmations of cultural difference. The marginal support nationalists enjoyed in the 1980s has eroded with decentralization.
Relations between the black majority and the East Indian minority are basically devoid of tension. Politics and culture remain arenas of debate as a result of increased French integration and the growing presence of the European Union