I’m just returning on the ferry from a successful 3-day stint on Dominica, and will be met at the terminal by Laurent, my amiable Airbnb host from my overnight in Pointe-á-Pitre. He’s taking me to my new Airbnb in a small coastal town called Saint Francois where I will spend the next four days before heading back to embark on my cruise.
Guadeloupe is a French protectorate and one of the least developed Caribbean islands, and has yet to be discovered by throngs of bloated, obnoxious American tourists. So, if you’re looking for an unspoiled paradise in the Caribbean this may just be the place for you. The French who comprise about 90% of the tourists who do not tolerate mediocre food and tacky souvenirs, help to make this destination a top quality experience. The little treasures you bring home will actually be valued after the holiday glow wears off, and the few pounds you may have added will be well worth it. Of course there are baguettes and pastries galore to go along with all of that scrumptious French island cuisine. The supermarket has a fine selection of French wines and cheese to make your stay even more memorable depending on how much you choose to drink.
Guadeloupe is one of the few underdeveloped islands in the Caribbean, and that is certainly one of it’s greatest appeals. No sprawling resorts choking out the virgin, beach-lined coast here. In fact if you come here in the low season you can even avoid the lion’s share of visitors, and be immediately elevated to a most valued guest status. The island resembles a butterfly with each wing comprising the two regions. Grande-Terre is where you will find the mellow, sandy beaches on the East side of the island, and Basse-Terre is more mountainous with a predominantly rocky coast. Here you will find a volcano and national parks, as well as many good seaside options as well.
EN ROUTE TO SAINTE-FRANÇOIS
CHIC & LUXURIOUS AIRBNB STUDIO – A/C, Modern Kitchen, Rain Showerhead, Washer, TV, Wifi. $55/day
MARINA – Behind My Apartment – Beach 200 Meters Away
CASINO MARKET – A fully stocked French market even had Cabecous de Rocamadour, my favorite goat cheese.
LA MARCHÉ DE LA ROTONDE – Circular central market offering everything from food items to souvenirs.
The souvenirs in Guadeloupe are surprisingly chic and not tacky like most islands.
Their quality handcrafted nature sets them apart from others in the Caribbean.
Trying to incorporate a little fruit and veg into the diet to offset all the protein. Little bananas so tasty.
Let’s take a little stroll up the coast of Saint Francois shall we.
SHADY PICNIC SPOTS
THEN THERE ARE THE BEACHES!
And you know you’re on a French island with all of the uninhibited, topless sun worshippers.
PUFFY CLOUDS AND TURQUOISE WATERS ARE UBIQUITOUS
HAPPY COUPLES GALORE
DEADZONE – This tacky waste of waterfront property is brought to you by one of the many, silly, superstitious burial rituals practiced throughout our overpopulated world. Seriously, these desiccated remains are unaware of the magnificent views and fresh sea air as they slumber below in their final dirt nap so I decided to come up with a ritual that give me comfort, and will by my reasoning be of great benefit to those left behind.
Much more sensible plans are being drawn up for when I finally draw my last breath. At this point, I have made it incumbent upon my children that in order to collect on their inheritance that they must take my ashes to France in a “Chock Full O Nuts” can. No wasteful, expensive urn, morose service or maudlin miseries following my demise. They will celebrate my life in the fashion as I lived it in my last years by sharing an adventure together, and in doing so, creating some truly wonderful memories for themselves in the process.
Dina’s good with a camera, and will be in charge of photography to capture the proceedings visually. Danny seems to best suited to chronicalling the adventure through the written word. In fact, I think this could make for a wonderful special interest story in the form of an article or an uplifting puff piece on the news. Who knows, we could all get our fifteen minutes of fame out of this one. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t be able to bask in the glow of celebrity with the rest of the gang, but just designing this unusual post mortem makes me feel better about the whole dying thing. I have never really feared death. It’s the unpleasant dying process that intimidates me. Cancers can be agonizing, heart attacks are awfully painful, and few are blessed with dying in their sleep.
Danny & Dina’s mission, should they wish to accept it, will begin in Paris, the city of lights, where they will be required to sprinkle one third of the contents of the coffee can into the River Seine from Pont Neuf Bridge during a nice sunset. Next they will proceed to the magnificent Vallé de la Loire to enjoy the magnificent chateaux. Here they will deposit the next third of the ashes into the Loire River. Then they will proceed to Brantôme, the Venice of the Perigord, where they will spend the evening in a four star hotel housed in a charming old mill house where ducks swim lazily past.
The next evening they will arrive in Sarlat, one of Europe’s largest and well preserved Medieval villages where they enjoy a delicious duck dinner at my favorite restaurant, Le Presidial. And finally they will hire canoes for a lazy paddle down the Dordogne River during which they will commit the final remains into the water, whilst uttering the words”Bonsoir Vanushkin”, which roughly translates to good night dear Johnny. Vanushkin is a Russian term of endearment for the name, John. The empty coffee can will go to whoever wants it as a souvenir of the adventure, my departure and as a tribute to a family favorite film, “The Big Lebowski”. So you see, death doesn’t have to be so awful after all.
LA TABLE D’AMELIE – Lovely restaurant on the water using the name in a favorite French film.
Even the bathroom wall is a charmer.
I WILL RETURN TOMORROW FOR A WATERSIDE TABLE
LOBSTER RAVIOLI – A truly delicious phenomenon in an orgasmically flavorful sauce.
PANNA COTTA – Red fruit compote makes this interpretation particularly enjoyable
Art is everywhere on this colorful and creative archipelago.
POINTE DES CHATEAUX – Payoff for the eight mile bicycle ride – My legs were fine but my butt was killing me.
It reminded me a little of Cathedral Rocks in New Zealand.
PRETTY FROM ALL ANGLES
Feeling good after working the kinks out of my derrière.
CHEZ JEANNETTE – Sorbets Coco – This local lady produced a homemade coconut sorbet that alone was worth the eight mile ride. For starters, I don’t really like sorbet, but the French fellow I asked said it was “magnifique”. It was light as a cloud, delicate in flavor and almost effervesced when it hit your tongue. It was one of the best frozen desserts I have ever consumed. My next visit to Guadeloupe will no doubt involve paying Mme Jeannette a visit or two for another serving of her island paradise in a cup.
The sun was showing signs of going down so I had to hurry if I was going to make it back to Saint Francois. I stopped at craft village to rest my hiney, did some quick power shopping and jumped on the bike and finished the last six miles without a break. I pulled into my building as night fell. Phew. I rewarded myself with another visit to La Table D’Amelie. I just couldn’t resist a second go at the lobster raviolis.
LE ZAGAYA – One of the many exceptional restaurants next to the Caribbean’s turquoise waters.
HOUSE SPECIALTY – Lobster Fricassée – A method of cooking the lobster in which it is cut up, sautéed and braised, and served with its sauce, traditionally a white sauce. In this case it is nestled atop a layer of delicate pasta.
COCO FLAN – Such a light and juicy flan to offset that rich lobster dish. I managed to complete the French tradition of the two hour lunch with the cod fritter appetizer and an espresso to finish. I’m notorious for the eat and run phenomenon so it was a shock to see that even the French had cleared out by the time I paid up.
Yet another visual taste treat for the eyes.
SOMETHING LIGHT AFTER ALL THE RICH FOOD
I was sitting in my place and the dulcet tones of this jazz trio came wafting through the fragrant breeze and into my apartment. As a jazz fanatic I was unable to resist.
GAINSBOURG – The restaurant/bar is named after Serge Gainsbourg the French singer, songwriter, pianist, film composer, poet, painter, screenwriter, writer, actor, and director. He was the greatest French songwriter of the 1960s and 1970s, was as famous for his decadent life and cynical wit as for the songs he sang. He made a career out of writing clever, provocative lyrics, recording many of them himself and giving others to his many famous friends and lovers to sing. His theatrical rudeness and outrageous provocations made him infamous and beloved in France.
One last apricot pastry for breakfast to tide me over until I arrive in France in the end of August.