Published: July 1st 2008June 14th 2008
A picturesque view of Les Saintes from the top of Fort Napolean.
We left St. Bart's just after sunset and had a wonderful sail to Les Saintes. And yes- we actually sailed. We were booking it around 8 knots with full sail and engine off, just the sound of the waves and the water rushing against the hull- nice! It was the first time since we left the Bahamas that the wind was off our stern not dead on the nose, so instead of bashing thru the waves we just got pushed along, surfing down them as they came in behind us. It was a calm night and we enjoyed watching the lights of St. Kitts, Nevis, and Antigua as we sailed by. We had to plot our course to pass the island of Montserrat on the windward side because the volcano there is erupting and spewing out ash. Unfortunately we didn't get to see it erupting as we passed because the top of the volcano was in the clouds, but we saw where the lava flow destroyed the town of Plymouth 10 years ago. Then there was Guadeloupe in the distance. We were making such great time that we decided to bypass Guadeloupe and keep going to the next set of islands,
The waterfront of Isle de Saintes, a charming fishing village.
called Les Saintes.
The Saints are an archipelago of French islands, just off the southern coast of Guadeloupe. And if there was one word to describe Les Saintes, it would be charming. The main town of Bourg des Saints is really just a quiet fishing village. It is quaint and picturesque, all the houses have red roofs and the church steeple in the center of town can be seen from the anchorage (and the church bells ring every 15 minutes throughout the day and can be heard in the anchorage as well). The town is built along the waterfront and very accessible by dinghy. There are many great boutiques and restaurants in The Saintes, a few art galleries, a patiserrie which sells delicious baguettes and pain du chocolate, and a gelato shop that has the best ice cream in the Caribbean. We had a great time exploring town, buying trinkets and sweets, and had many delicious meals of local fresh seafood.
One day we decided to hike up to Fort Napolean atop the hill on the north end of town. It was quite hot and humid, so the hike was miserable. But the views were amazing, post-card perfect
Bourg de Saintes
The town of Bourg des Saints, built right along the waterfront.
pictures of town and the harbor all along the way. And when we finally made it to the top we were excited to explore the fort and cactus garden there. There were so many different varieties of cactus growing around the fort- some supple with sharp spikes, others gnarly and intertwined in a giant web, and of course the tall and spiky variety we all know so well- very cool. Then we went inside Fort Napolean and explored all the exhibits there. I particularly liked all the old photographs that depicted the people and history of Les Saintes, to watch it grow from a just a few sea-side shanties on the beach to the town that it is today- fascinating. But the most memorable aspect of visiting the fort was all the goats there, we had so much fun watching them climb up and down the steep rock walls of the fort. What curious animals!
Our favorite anchorage in Les Saintes was away from town though, tucked in behind Pain de Sucre, or Sugar Loaf Hill. Sugar Loaf is a 200 foot mini-piton with sheer granite cliffs that drop into the crystal clear turquoise water below. This idyllic anchorage
The view from one of the many great restaurants in Les Saintes.
has a small white sand beach, lined with palm trees, and is a perfect spot for a picnic. The snorkeling was great at the anchorage and we would just jump of our boat and go for a swim amongst all the fish. It was just lovely. Back 3 years ago, when we were leaving Oregon and getting ready for this trip, we were so excited to see the Caribbean. And now we are here and I am happy to say that this place is what we envisioned and hoped to find. A beautiful anchorage, a charming fishing village rich in French culture and cuisine, and pristine waters with snorkeling just off the boat. Needless to say, we loved our time here in The Saints.
There are more photos below