With a total of 38000 tourists in the 2008/2009 season, Tropical Tour is the travel agency charging the most important volume of passengers in the French West Indies.
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Guadeloupe, commonly called " l’île aux belles eaux" (island of beautiful waters), with Caribbean sea in the north, Atlantic Ocean in the south. As a butterfly, its 2 wings are Grande Terre island with Pointe à Pitre, economic chief town, and Basse Terre island, with the administrative chief town with the same name.
These two parts of Guadeloupe are really different :
-Grande Terre island, with plate relief, extends on almost 590 km². Its main characteristics are long white-sand beaches and enormous sugar cane fields.
-Basse Terre island, mountainous, is often subjected to storms, a real paradise for hike lovers who will appreciate marvellous waterfalls and la Soufrière volcano (1467m). Its main characteristics are wild rivers and sources, its craters overhanging the region and a huge green forests.
Discovered on November the third 1493 by Christopher Columbus, Guadeloupe with its ancient name Caloucaéra (or Karukéra in Creole) received Arawaks, some fishermen Indian people, coming from Venezuela. They have been wiped out by “Caraïbes”, a cannibal warrior tribe.
Island economy was based on agriculture from Normandy and Brittany. Caraïbes people were used for this activity but were exterminated by epidemics and other pests.
Because they needed labour, they organised first African slaves deportation. It will last four long centuries.
Slavery period will often start off : on February 1794 with the first slavery abolition by the Convention, than with its reestablishment in 1802 by Napoleon Bonaparte, and finally the second abolition in 1848 by Victor Schoelcher, who signed the Abolition Decree. To find new labour, after slavery, authorities decided to employee other workers called « the coolis », people coming from China and above all India. At this time, concurrence among the several plantations is rude and many of them failed. At 19th century, these plantations become « domaines », properties, and were sold to foreign capitalist firms.
First social movements created first socialist deputies. Production diversification introduces banana, pineapple, rice, sugar cane and rum cultivation.
In 1946 Guadeloupe becomes a department, guided by a prefect, assisted by a General Secretary and a sub-prefect, one for Northern Islands (Saint Martin and Saint Barthélemy), one for Pointe à Pitre.
The department is now doted of similar laws as French ones. Some of them have particular dispositions, particular officials salaries, school equipments, and medical and social assistance.
On December 1st 1999, Basse Terre declaration is signed by the three presidents of Guadeloupe, Martinique and Guyana regions. The goal of this document is to put together the efforts to find a adapted way to develop French West Indies and Guyana. Finally, on December 7th 2003, Saint Martin and Saint Barthélemy decide by referendum to accept article 74 of French Constitution and become real French territorial collectivities.
Main race is black. Moreover, many other races as Indians who arrived in 1853, « Blancs- Matignon » and « Békés », descending from european colons, Rasta and Whites are part of Guadeloupe patrimony. This colour blend forms 450 000 inhabitants of Guadeloupe.
Catholic religion is predominant and visible with many churches in all towns of Guadeloupe, as well as some cathedrals.
Other religions are represented : Jehovah witness, 7th day Adventists, Evangelists, Muslims, and many others.
French is the predominant language. English is also spoken in most of tourist structures as hotels, restaurants and tourist offices.
Local population speaks creole, a language born from french, and considered as a exchange language among caribbean people. It’s often incomprehensible for tourists, because it’s an original blend of french, english and spanish.
Guadeloupe people are real athletes : french athletics couldn’t be the same without them !
Hikes, riding, ox cart tours or jeep excursions, Guadeloupe forest offers to you the chance to discover true values of nature !
Moreover, you can really enjoy yourself on the sea with surf, body board, kite-surf, fun-board, hobby cat, water skiing, jet-ski, sailing and canoe ; or under the sea with diving…
Many other activities can satisfy everybody, children too :
- adventure sports as forest hikes;
- waterfalls slopes ;
- canoe-kayak, diving, catamaran cruise, jet sky, fly surf, fun board...
Guadeloupe culture comes for its story and still evolves : you are invited to discover it in the museums or everywhere else where you find many rich and charming testimonies. Permanent expositions of its imagination thru writing or painting, where you can find famous names. Music festivals are the main events, to fell the big vibration.
In Grande-Terre island, you find Pointe-à-Pitre and
sub- prefecture, many white-sand beaches and most of the hotels of the island. Sugar cane and wild landscapes in the northern part of the island complete this unique contrasts land.
- Porte d'Enfer sea cliffs. This sensational cliffs extend Grande Vigie walk. Manu wonderful view points following the street between « Pointe de la Grande Vigie » and « la Porte d'Enfer ».
- Pointe-à-Pitre. Economical main town, a cocktail of 70ies modernism, colonial relics and lively atmosphere. Market, shops and mixed crowd contribute to a very special ambiance.
- La Pointe de la Grande Vigie. Extreme north, 80 m high on the sea. Landscape is really grandiose.
- La Pointe des Châteaux ends in 40 m. high rocks. Atlantic ocean air, proximity to the beaches, (wonderful example, Anse à la Gourde beach***) and the sumptuousness of landscape makes it the most visited place of the island.
- Sainte-Anne beach : the water is translucent and calm, an ideal bath for babies and children.
- Vieux-Bourg Morne-à-l'Eau and Macou islet. The first is a traditional fishermen village, the second a white-sand beach of Morne à l’Eau mangrove. Don’t leave the island without visiting the astonishing Morne-à-l'Eau cemetery***.
Basse-Terre is the highest island between the two wings, its culminating point is la Soufrière volcano. Green and luxuriant, it protects a wonderful tropical forest.
- Basse-Terre town. Historical and administrative main town of the island, with its beautiful colonial buildings, dominated by Soufrière volcano, some traditional “ cales ”(houses) and a market, crowd in the morning.
- La Route de la Traversée, boarded with tree ferns and with caribbean pins, cuts in two parts the national park of Guadeloupe. Visitors will be totally satisfied. You can also stop and visit zoological and botanical park.
- La Soufrière volcano. This active volcano landscape is nearly lunar, and the view on all near islands is splendid.
- Carbet waterfalls (near Capesterre). Second waterfall is the most visited and grandiose. The third one, less high than others, is less wild. You can reach the first by a quite steep path, only for athletes.
- Malendure. From this black-sand beach you can take the boat to visit Cousteau submarine reserve depth, with its Pigeon islets.
- Pointe-Noire. It’s the departure point to many echo- tourist excursions, in vanilla or coffee plantations (caféière Beauséjour in Acomat). It’s the region of wood sawyers, that’s why you’ll also find the “Wood House museum”.
- Grand Cul- de- Sac Marin natural reserve. It belongs to the archipelago biosphere reserve. Mangrove visit can show you a large variety of birds. Nearby you can stop and visit the superb Séverin rum factory.
Coffee, vanilla, cacao, rum and sugar cane Museums. All these flavours which makes you mouth water. Everywhere in the archipelago you can discover different tastes.
Guadeloupe archipelago is composed by many islands :
Grande Terre, Basse Terre, Marie Galante, Les Saintes (Terre de Haut et Terre de Bas), la Désirade, Saint Martin and Saint Barthélemy. They are in the middle of the Caribbean basin.
Guadeloupe island is between Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean. Like a butterfly, its two wings are Basse Terre and Grande Terre islands.
East side, with Pointe-à-Pitre town, the island economical lung, Grande-Terre and its 590 km² offers many little relieves with marvellous white-sand beaches and sugar cane plantations.
West side, Basse-Terre island (848 km²),more rainy and montanious,one of the most beautiful region of Caribbean islands. A real paradise for walkers, Basse-Terre has more than 300 kilometres of tracks: waterfalls, bubbling sources, sulphurous waters, craters, sugar cane fields, bananas plantations and primary era forests, the most beautiful and better preserved of Caribbean. “ sous le vent ” coast (to leeward) shelters creeks and bays, fishermen kingdom, but also many km of beaches. Two unique sites could resume Basse-Terre island : Carbet waterfalls and Soufrière active volcano, culminant point of little Antilles (1 467 m).
Many natural sites in the national park, for a very rich green paradise. Floral parks as Jardin Botanique in Deshaies, or Domaine de Valombreuse in Petit Bourg.