ISLANDS OF GUADELOUPE: MARIE GALANTE
island of Marie Galante, has at least a hundred mills, is the third
largest among the islands of the French Antilles, at 158 km2. 30 km
from Guadeloupe, Marie Galante is circular in shape with rolling
hills, (Its highest point is just 204 meters) and its countryside is
extraordinary. The northern coast is characterized by its high
cliffs and nearly a quarter of the region in the north is separated
from the rest by a deep fault. Today Marie Galante reminds you of
Guadeloupe as it was fifty years ago: retaining it agricultural
nature, this warm & welcoming island is almost entirely dedicated to
the cultivation of sugar cane. Step back in time to surreal scenes
of duel ox drawn carts kabwé transporting sugar cane to the 106
mills scattered across the island like sentinels. The islands
thrilling and bloody past provide the visitor a chance to learn with
a step back in time, what life was like before. The few surviving
distilleries are considered to produce amongst the best of rums.
Marie Galante is bordered by heavenly, deserted beaches, some are
considered the most beautiful of the archipelago of Guadeloupe. The
region north of the island is the most picturesque, with forests,
hills and beautiful beaches, where you get the feeling that time has
|The beaches in Marie
The beaches of Marie-Galante
are considered some of the most beautiful in Guadeloupe,
it is no coincidence that most of the publicity shoots
for Guadeloupe are shot here!
There are about ten beaches and each one is more
beautiful the other: some on the Atlantic coast and the
others, protected by coral reefs on the Caribbean side.
Leeward side and with long white sanded stretches lapped
by the placid waters of the Caribbean Sea. All to be
Anse de Mays - Saint Louis
Le Feuillère Beach - Capesterre
Anse Moustique - Saint Louis
Les Galets Beach - Capesterre
Anse Feuillard Beach - Capesterre
Accommodations in Marie Galante
Marie Galante offers a variety of accommodation to suit
all tastes, but no 5 star properties.
The welcome is heartfelt & genuine. Most of the
bungalows and hotels are concentrated long the coast
between Grand Bourg Capesterre. Accommodation "chez
l'habitant" or “locals houses,' are easy to find on the
history of Marie Galante
The history of Marie-Galante is quite eventful.
Christopher Columbus discovered the island in 1493,
known to its native inhabitants, (Caraibes,) as Aulingan
(Cotton island,) and renamed after the caravel of
Columbus, Maria Galanta.
The first French colonists settled in Vieux Fort in
1648. At the beginning of 1700's the first slaves were
brought to the island for the tobacco plantations. With
the arrival of the Dutch, driven from Brazil, the
production of sugar developed and gave life to the first
Sugar plantations creating the monoculture of sugar
cane. The Dutch attacked the island several times
plundering and destroying the mills and factories, then
from 1692 to 1816 the British and French fought for
Marie-Galante five times. In this period the island saw
independence from 1792 to 1794.
After numerous bloody conflicts between rebels and slave
masters, in 1848 the abolition of slavery was achieved.
But the attempts by influential white farmers to restore
"order" in 1849 gave birth to a bloody fight at
Habitation Pirogue, which became famous after the tragic
events that saw tens of blacks slaves dying for the
right to freedom, the date is now remembered with a
|Distilleries in Marie
Three distilleries in Marie-Galante remained in
operation: Distillerie Bellevue, Distillerie Bielle,
They produce an excellent white rum 59°. They are open
to the public most mornings.
Opportunity to buy direct.
|Diving in Marie
The dive spots in Marie Galante
are unforgettable and a once in a life time opportunity.
Depending on the season you may encounter dolphins and
listen to whale songs which resonate in the waters.
Turtles, barracuda, angel fish, parrot fish, moray eels,
lobsters, octopus, leopard rays and moray eels are
common fare for divers, amongst its wonderful virgin
|Excursions and hiking
For those who want to seize a
taste of the authentic Marie Galante and like walking
and hiking, the trails are a numerous. From the tourism
office, you can buy a map detailing pedestrian routes &
|Le P'tit Kiwi – local
distillery Bellevue, the first and only eco-distillery
of Guadeloupe, do not miss a visit to the boutique run
by Christophe, the P'tit Kiwi. We were fascinated by the
skill and sensitivity of this young artist-craftsman in
the working of Calebasse.
|Visiting Marie Galante
Marie Galante can be seen
in one day, but we recommend you stay a few nights in
order to fully appreciate the atmosphere and the beauty
of its beaches.
Grand Bourg is the capital, lively in the morning
and sleepy in the afternoon.
Saint Louis, a ferry
dock to the north of the island, is a quiet village,
situated on a white beach with several small
restaurants, beautiful beaches to the north of the
country (Vieux Fort, Anse Moustique, Anse Canot). North
of Saint Louis, towards Vieux Fort only ten minutes by
car to admire the Great Gueule Gouffre, a natural arch
carved by the sea. a ferry port to the north of the
island, it is a quiet village, situated on a white beach
with several small restaurants, beautiful beaches to the
north of the country (Vieux Fort, Anse Moustique, Anse
Canot). To the north of Saint Louis, towards Vieux Fort
and only ten minutes by car, admire the Great Gueule
Gouffre, a natural arch carved by the sea. Also worth a
visit is the coulourful panorama of Caya Plate.
The fine and breezy beaches of
Capesterre are also worth the trip. Here there is
the greatest concentration of tourist facilities,
although the village itself does not offer any special
The Habitation Roussel, dating back to 1700 and now in
ruins, has been classified a national monument since
1981 because of its colonial significance.
The Habitation Murat
Eco-museum of Marie-Galante, the Habitation Murat dates
back to the 1600's and had a protagonist role in the
golden age of sugar. It was one of the largest estates
on the island, with an area of 200 hectares and more
than 200 slaves . The property consisted of about thirty
buildings, 2 mills, one hundred cases (housing for the
slaves), la maison de maître, with a superb architecture
and built by the British during a period of colonization
The eco-museum offers an overview on the history of
Marie-Galante and an attractive medicinal herb garden.
Only 1.5 km from Grand Bourg,
in the direction Capesterre, signs are on the left. Open
to the public from 8 to 13 and from 14.30 to 17.30.
During the weekend from 9am to 12 and from 14 to 16.
Guided tours. Tel. 0590 979441
Le Mulin Bézard
BEZARD at Capesterre is the only one of the 106 mills
Marie Galante to have resisted time and weathering.
Built in 1814, the golden age of sugar production,
(Marie-Galante alone produced 20% of all the sugar from
Guadeloupe,) it remained in operation until 1940 and was
well renovated in 1994, to be turned into a museum.
Admission € 2 adults, children 1euro.
La mare au punch
La mare au punch or "the punch
swamp." To celebrate the abolition of slavery in 1848
slaves of the Habitation Pirogue poured into the swamp
hectoliters of rum. The celebrations lasted days and
The Ox competitions
A true cultural tradition from
Marie Galante, from June to February, the Ox
competitions are held usually on Sundays. A real
atmosphere winners on the podiums, music &
entertainment. These races take place in small villages:
Morne Lolo, Canada, Vanniers, Bambara and Saint-Michel.
Ask the tourist office to find out dates and venues of
the road connecting Grand Bourg and Capesterre, in the
hamlet of Murat stop to a visit Victor Tibedeo, a
craftsman who makes crafts with wood, roots, Calebasse
Getting to Marie Galante
Marie-Galante is about 30 km from
Guadeloupe and there are daily connections between the two
The ferry from Pointe à Pitre leaves from the maritime station
at Bergevin and lands in Saint Louis and Grand Bourg. There are
6 returans crossings a day. The crossing takes 45 minutes,
crossing the coast about 39 euros round trip, 24 euros one way.
Saint François ferries depart from the marina, linking
Guadeloupe Marie-Galante almost daily with departures early in
the mornings and return trips later in the afternoon.
Tickets are 33 euro return and available at the dock.
The ferry which provides some midweek trips leave from Sainte
Anne and lands at Sainte
Louis, which is further north of Marie Galante and the oldest
village on the island.
Leaving from Les Saintes the ferry sails at the end of the
afternoon from Terre de Haut. The return trip leaves the next
day. It is about a 45 min crossing.
By plane: Tropic Airlines tel. 0590 202 018 (tel. airport in
Grand-Bourg 0590 975100)
Moving around the island
Marie-Galante is a fairly large island,
with a circumference of 15 km. We recommend renting a scooter or
Many car rental companies operate in Grand-Bourg Saint Louis and
offer car, scooter and MBK hire.
There 2 are regular bus lines, the first connecting Grand Bourg
to Capesterre, the second from Grand Bourg and Saint-Louis.
Several independent mini-buses offer shuttling between villages
and hamlets. As elsewhere in the archipelago of Guadeloupe
public transport is frequent during the morning and slower in
the afternoon when times become unpredictable. Average price is
2 Euros paid on arrival.
plentiful on the island!