St Barthélemy blends relaxed Caribbean ambiance with the essence of France. The rolling green hills and sheltered inlets of the tiny island are fringed with white-sand beaches, clear waters and coral reefs. This sophisticated island has an exclusive air and is a favorite retreat for the rich and famous and their accompanying paparazzi. St Barths is renowned for its fine French cuisine and chic boutiques.
Lorient, St Barts
Lorient is the site of St Barths' first French settlement and has a 19th C Catholic church plus a post office, shopping and two flower-strewn cemeteries.On November 1st and 2nd, locals observe All Soul's and All Saint's Day, two traditional Catholic holidays. On those days the local parish priest leads candlelight processions in prayer at the graveyard.Lorient's stretch of beach is popular with locals.
Inside the Eglise de Lorient, a church built of local stone cut to size by women, conch shells serve as holy water basins.
Colombier, St Barts
North of Corossol is Colombier, a residential area of red-roofed cottages overlooking a bay favored by sailors. The area also offers a fine beach of the same name but is only reached by a boat or hike.
St Jean, St Barts
The tiny village of St Jean with its beautiful beach, restaurants and shopping is at the heart of the island.Three shopping plazas in town providing clothing, English language newspapers and restaurants. The airport is nearby.
St Jean Airport
The activity at St Jean's Airport is observed from the top of a nearby hill called La Tourmente. Nothing larger than 20-seat aircraft land in St Barths and only during daylight hours. Most flights servicing the island come from St Martin / St Maarten.
Corossol, St Barts
This two-street fishing village is sometimes called the "straw village," due to the women from established island families who create straw hats and crafts from palm fronds.The older women speak an old Norman dialect and can be seen in a traditional style of dress featuring starched white sunbonnets called quichenottes (kiss me nots).
Ingenu Magras' InterOceans Museum
Ingenu Magras' InterOceans Museum with a collection of over 9,000 shells is the life's work of Ingenu Magras, who began his international collection of shells as a boy in 1925. More are added every year and 1,600 species from the Caribbean are included.
At Pointe Milou those admiring the ocean vistas also overlook a portion of St Barths' coast frequented by surfers.
St Barths Film Festival
St Barths' Music Festival
St Barths' Music Festival, which features top level musicians from around the world was initiated in 1985 by a group of professional musicians from the Pittsburg area.Each year the Festival grows in stature and importance. Ballet was introduced in 1988, and jazz in 1989.The artists of the St Barths' Festival de Musique have included the American Chamber Music Ensemble, the Claude Bolling Jazz Trio, ballerina Valentina Koslova, soprano Alba Quezada, conductor Akira Endo, and guitarist Eric Franceries.The festival is held annually in January.
St Barths has 15 major dive sites, both reefs and wrecks and snorkeling is good off the rocky end of Marigot and Grand Cul-de-Sac where the shallow, reef-protected waters are ideal for children.
St Barths is a popular yacht stop. Motor-boat rentals are available, as well as picnic excursions to 'deserted' beaches.
Everybody owns some type of boat in St Barths and many are used to catch blue marlin, tuna, wahoo, bonito, barracuda, sailfish, swordfish and dorado, but all fish become the property of the vessel.Big game fishing provides excitement for amateurs, but fishers are urged to release any catches back to the wild after measuring and tagging it.A Marine Reserve was implemented in 1996, in order to restore sea life in coastal waters devastated by overeager spear fishers.