Although it is a relatively central point, international arrivals land nearby the city and a lot of economic exchanges take place in Pointe-à-Pitre. The administrative side of the islands of Guadeloupe is managed in Basse-Terre. Note that if we talk to you about the metropolis, know that it is rather Paris that we are referring to as if it is nearby.
There are very few offers of accommodation or activities in Pointe-à-Pitre. Opt instead for Bas-du-Fort or Le Gosier for a stay if you don’t want to go too far. If you are passing through on a cruise line, rent a car and go out of town. Indeed, there is little to see in Pointe-à-Pitre and you may be disappointed if your stay is limited to this center. Moreover, it is not representative of the island.
Pointe-à-Pitre encompasses 11 municipalities, but its center is among the least populated of the others.. Boarded-up windows, abandoned places, closed establishments, places open only on weekdays, lack of direction; in short, it’s a bit jumbled up. Our presence during the Fête de Saint-Laurent (festival) gave a little color to this greyish environment.
Note that the frescoes on the walls are superb artistic works and the colonial houses with their rusty balconies are part of the urban decor.
The modern Guadeloupe – ACTe MemorialMemorial ACTe denotes incredibly from the city center. Fortunately, it is a little set back, because it is as if all the embellishment budget went to this site at the expense of the city center. The museum is definitely worth a visit, but the imbalance is shocking.
The spice market was busy and the restaurants around were open. There are, therefore, a few places to discover. In alphabetical order:
- ACTe Memorial
- Church Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul
- Darse market – fish market
- House Tourist office
- Marcel Lollia dit “Velo” statue
- Place Gourbeyre
- Place de la Victoire (Victory Square)
- Saint-John-Perse Museum (Monday to Friday)
- Schoelcher Museum (closed for works-2022)
- Spice market and its fountain
This memorial is also a museum dedicated to slavery. Inaugurated in 2015, the architecture of the complex is impressive and is located on the site of the former Darboussier sugar factory. The museum recalls tragic events of human trafficking from yesterday to today and is interspersed with works of art inspired by a not-so-distant past.
For more information click here.
For the official website click here.
In Pointe-à-Pitre, on Place Gourgeyre, the main Catholic Church is Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul. Built between 1807 and 1817, it had to be reinforced over the years following the marked passages of Mother Nature.
It now has an iron frame and is often subject to structural validations to ensure safety and solidity. It is one of the rare churches on the island to always have six statues on the façade including, of course, those of Saint-Pierre and Saint-Paul.
We were lucky enough to be a witness during our visit to the traditional Pointe-à-Pitre cooks’ party. Every year, on the Saturday closest to August 10, the feast of Saint-Laurent takes place. It is a very colorful, gourmet and festive event.
It all begins at the church of Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul where the baskets and meals of the cooks who come to deposit their culinary creations at the foot of the altar are blessed. Dressed in colorful traditional dresses and aprons, the famous cooks of the association of cooks of Guadeloupe celebrate. The church is crowded and songs adorn the people passing through. The ritual continues in the surrounding streets to celebrate the patron saint of cooks: Saint-Laurent.
Darse Marcket – Marché aux poissons
Located on the other side of Place de la Victoire, there is a quay where on one side is a large empty structure and on the other a few fish and souvenir merchants. The large structure, the Darse market, was deserted looking like being abandoned on this rainy Saturday in August 2022. Is it temporary or permanent, hard to say. We took refuge under the extension of the roof to protect ourselves from the pouring rain.
You will surely see the pelicans begging for food from the merchants.
House Tourism Committee
5 Bank Square
On the place de la Victoire is the house of the tourism committee of the islands of Guadeloupe.
This is the head office of the committee in charge of projects and support for tourism development in the region.
It is not clear if this site is open to the public. It was closed on this Saturday morning in August.
Marcel Lollia dit “Velo” statue
One of the greatest renowned Ka players is commemorated with this Statue.
Place de Gourbeyre
Place de Gourbeyre is named in honor of the illustrious Rear Admiral Jean-Baptiste-Marie-Augustin Gourbeyre who rose through the ranks of the French Navy from the age of 14. He traveled several seas and fought against the English in 1809. He became governor of Guyana and later of Guadeloupe from 1841 until his death in 1845 from typhoid. He is recognized for his effort to save the city of Pointe-à-Pitre after the terrible earthquake and the major fire in the city in 1843.
His remains are in the Fort Delgrès military cemetery. In 1848, a bronze bust was installed on the square which now bears his name. The square is at the heart of the city and is surrounded by important infrastructure for the city, in front of the main Church of Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul, the presbytery and the old courthouse.
Place de la Victoire
The central gathering place filled with history was, during our visit, relatively quiet and showed little interest. Despite a geographical situation to envy, the site was relatively sad and gloomy. It was perhaps because of the rain of the moment.
The public square is actually located just in front of the sea and offers an ideal setting for highlighting events, holding demonstrations, organizing shows and celebrating. Place de la Victoire has had this name since 1794.
The esplanade is surrounded by establishments that in theory would have caught my attention, but it was perhaps the maturity of the trees and/or the rain on my glasses that accelerated our visit to the site. I did not notice the surrounding architecture other than the tourist office because we took refuge on the edge of the closed Darse market, which protected us from the torrential rain for a few minutes and allowed us to see the tourist office which was closed.
On the Place de la Victoire, some elements to raise:
1. The bandstand, an interesting octagonal shape whose roof reminds me of an umbrella inverted by the wind.
2. Monument to former Governor Félix Éboué
3. Monument to former Governor and General Charles Victor Frebault
4. The Sculpture Blood Chains/100 Chains/Without Chains appealed to me personally. You should know that in French “Sang, 100, Sans” are homonyms which translates into English as blood, 100, without chains, a direct tribute to the hundreds of men and women who fought with their lives against the chains of slavery.
Spice market and its fountain / Marché aux épices et sa fontaine
The spice market is a large market where you can find not only resolutely delicious aromas, but also jams, ti-punch, fruits and vegetables.
The market is colorful and the people very welcoming and very determined to sell you merchandise. However, you will notice that the merchandise is recurring from one merchant to another and from one market to another. This is normal. A cooperative allows access to local products for resale.
The market is on a large esplanade where a (non-functional) fountain is also on the premises. It was a bustling place.
Not far away, there is a statue of Marcel Lollia nicknamed “Velo” (bicycle in French).
Saint-John-Perse Museum / Musée Saint-John Perse
This museum has a rather particular architecture, but not unique on the island. In fact, after the middle of the 19th century, during a tumultuous crossing from Europe to the United States, two identical houses, intended for the daughters of a prosperous Louisiana cotton merchant, found themselves in Guadeloupe at an auction. The two houses assembled in separate towns are still standing today.
One of them is that of the Zévallos habitation near Le Moule and the second is now the Saint-John Perse Museum. His real name was Alexis Léger but Saint-John Perse did not live there. The poet was recognized for the depth of his texts and the museum in his honor is located in his hometown. He was the recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1960.
The house was originally acquired by the owner of the Darboussier sugar factory.
The site is closed on weekends but presents Creole customs and the life of Saint-John Perse who was also a diplomat.
For the official website click here.
For an overview of Guadeloupe click here.
For all posts on Guadeloupe click here.