The French West Indies
Guadeloupe is a collection of islands located in the Lesser Antilles chain of the Caribbean. Officially an overseas region of France, Guadeloupe is home to over 400,000 people. The two main islands of Grande-Terre and Basse-Terre are separated by the Salée River and present a unique butterfly shape. The majority of Basse-Terre is covered in Caribbean rainforest and is designated as one of France’s ten national parks. Rich volcanic soil and the higher altitudes of the national park support the island’s diverse flora and fauna. French is the official language of Guadeloupe and spoken by all, but Creole is also heard throughout the island. As an overseas region of France the accepted currency is the euro.
For centuries Guadeloupe was peopled by the Amerindians and known in the local language as the “island of beautiful waters”. The islands that make up the Guadeloupean archipelago were fought over for a large part of their modern history. Amerindians repelled repeated attempts of colonization for over a hundred years. The Spanish were the first to establish a colony on Guadeloupe’s shores but were soon expelled by the French. The island became a colonial battleground between French and English forces, each vying for control of the islands. France eventually laid claim to the islands and in 1644 slavery was implemented to meet the demand of the booming sugar industry. Multiple slave revolts shed light upon the island’s troubled past of colonial slavery and add further complexity to Guadeloupe’s history.
Build your Guadeloupe vacation!
Guadeloupe’s Creole food culture blends vibrant local spices and freshly harvested vegetables with seafood right out of the water. Piment, the islands deliciously spicy scotch bonnet pepper paste, is used to add unique flavor and heat to the island’s dishes. Barbecued meat is a Guadeloupean staple and can be found at the many roadside grills scattered throughout the island. Traditional baking and cooking techniques are still used and visitors are encouraged to learn about the cassava, sugar cane, coffee, and rum industries. Late afternoon snack? Drop by one of the islands many food trucks to try a freshly made Bokit, the island’s fried dough sandwich. Tropical fruits like coconut, banana, star fruit, and mango are a plenty, as long as you catch the season. Did we mention the rum? With centuries of rum production Guadeloupe boasts some of the finest spirits in the Caribbean. And let’s not forget about the coffee. The French introduced both arabica and robusta coffee trees to the island in the 17th century.
Stop into the closest boulangerie for crunchy chewy baguettes and sweet or savory pastries that mimic the bakeries of Paris. The island offers a host of restaurants specializing in traditional French cuisine and creative chefs are platting dishes that weave traditional French and Caribbean food culture together. Come explore your inner foodie.