Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

POSTCARD FROM ANTIQUA

Dreamy, with a strong French accent

October 22, 2006|Susan Fogwell | Special to The Times

The tiny island of Terre-de-Haut has been called a mini-St. Bart's, but without the chic designer boutiques and exclusive villas. It is a boater's dream. A few Breton-style fishing boats still bob along the waterfront, but for the most part, outboards have taken their place. For serious sailors exploring the archipelago of Les Saintes in the French West Indies, Terre-de-Haut offers a peaceful anchorage in a snug harbor. Days of French-island immersion await.

*

Getting to Terre-de-Haut

Yes, it's out of the way. The jumping-off point is Guadeloupe, which has a small airport and yacht rentals. Terre-de-Haut is 20 miles south -- about two hours by boat. There, you'll set anchor, jump in the dinghy and be at the dock in five minutes. Terre-de-Haut is so small, you can walk everywhere. Although the island is a walker's delight, a scooter, which can be rented, helps to cover every nook and cranny. Tip: Rent a scooter from Jean Louis Cassin at Tropico Velo (about $40 per day).

*

Storming the fort

Whether walking or motoring, it's worth trekking up to Ft. Napoleon, built in 1867. It stands on a hill to the north of town, with a commanding view of the harbor. Start early. Hours are 9 a.m. to noon. Entry fee is $5. (Euros are the official currency here; Terre-de-Haut is still run by France.) The fort has been magnificently restored. The top half has a well-tended garden of labeled succulents.

*

Best view in town

To take in the most sweeping view on the island, walk up the steep road -- closed to traffic -- to Le Chameau (1,014 feet), by the old Napoleonic lookout tower. In the tower, climb the ladder for a 360-degree view of the town and six of the seven neighboring islands. One of the islands, Ilet a Cabrit, is a short dinghy ride away. Plan another day for exploring the ruins of Ft. Josephine, which can be found there. Tip: The hike up to the fort is only for the physically fit. Be sure to bring water.

*

Dive, dive, dive

Jacques Cousteau dived here. If you're a diver, you'll enjoy the thousands of reefs and crystal-clear water. It's a breeding ground for rock lobster and all sorts of marine life. It truly is a diver's paradise. For water as calm as a lake's, with a white sand beach, go to Plage Pompierre.

*

Where to start

Choose between two dive shops: Cedric's Pisquettes (www.pisquettes.com) and Luc & Sylvie's Le Dive Bouteille (www.dive-bouteille.com). Both shops usually offer dives twice per day and rent gear. To snorkel, head two miles out of town to the western end of the island. The Bay of Pain de Sucre has been named one of the most beautiful in the world.

*

On the water

For a fresh catch, Christian Maisonneuve takes people fishing the local way. Get an early start; a line starts to form early in the morning. He also rents fishing boats and kayaks. Ask about Maisonneuve at the tourist office in the center of town. When the breeze is up, the Saintes have prime windsurfing. If you don't have windsurfing equipment, rent it at Hotel Bois Joli. A week's rental is about $300. Hobie Cats can be rented too (011-590-99-54-94).

*

Boutiques and galleries

Boutiques with local handcrafts as well as T-shirt shops are wall to wall along the main drag of Bourg. For a reminder of your trip, artist Pascal Foy crafts by hand small replicas of house facades in the Saintes. His work is detailed, down to the hinges on doors and shutters. Prices start at $120. Shipping is recommended. For original oil paintings and objets d'art, go to Didier Spindler's Gallery. You're bound to find something to your liking at a reasonable price.

*

Getting there

From LAX to Point-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe, American offers connecting flights (three changes of planes). Restricted round-trip fares begin at $870 until Nov. 14, increasing to $906 until June 20.

*

Where to stay

The Auberge Les Petits Saints aux Anacardiers is a lovely, intimate hotel, with rates about $175; 011-590-5-90-99-50-99, www.petitssaints.com.

*

For more info

Maps, magazines and brochures are available at the tourist office in Bourg on Terre-de-Haut; 011-590-99-58-60. The French Government Tourist Office in New York: (212) 838-7800.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|