|Marigot, St. Martin
If you have been reading my blog of late, especially in the last week or so, your already aware my latest adventure has taken me, family and friends to the Island of St. Maarten/St. Martin in the Caribbean. I have written a couple stories now about this Island, if you would like to get caught up click on the stories below.
I thought it might be fun to share with you two distinctly different towns on the island. The first is Marigot and the second I’ll write about is Phillipsburg, today I will focus on Marigot. Marigot is on the French side of the Island and is the largest town on this side. I like Marigot for many reasons. The marina’s that are here are simply gorgeous, one is situated on the Ocean side and the other is on the inside bay, both marina’s are separated by no more than a few streets so getting around from one to the other is quite simple.
The marina on the ocean side is also where you have passport control for incoming/outgoing ferries and such from Anguilla, St. Barth’s and other islands. A ferry to Anguilla is about a 45 minute boat ride. Anguilla is a British Colony, while St. Maarten/St. Martin is a French/Dutch Colony. Then you have Saba, St. Barth’s, St. Kitts’ and Nevis all within a boat ride or small plane.
|Sarafina’s fantastic bakery
As I said, to me Marigot is distinctly different than Phillipsburg in both their ambiance, their look, and their attitude. Marigot is French, and there is a bit of a sophisticated air about it. I know, I know, some of you will say snobby or something like that because it’s french, but that would be incorrect. It is more sophisticated, relaxed and has a more laissez faire attitude about it. There are some excellent restaurants located in and around Marigot. But one of my favorite places is Sarafina’s bakery. The best, I mean hands down the best French Pastries and Breakfast on the island. When your there say hi to Giles, he is the guy in charge and extremely friendly.
Originally Marigot was a fishing village on a swamp for which it was named, Marigot was made a capital during the reign of King Louis XVI, who built Fort St. Louis on a hill near Marigot Bay. Today, that building is the most important in Marigot.
Now some of you out there have seen the Marina in Marigot before, however you may not know it. Now this one is going back a bit, but here goes. Do you remember the movie Speed? With Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves, well Speed 2 starred Sandra Bullock and Jason Patrick. The premise of this one was a runaway Cruise Ship. Well there are several scenes of this Cruise Ship sailing directly into an island and crashing through the Marina into a shopping mall. That Shopping Mall was built specifically for this movie, it is a real shopping mall in Marigot. So there is your movie trivia for the day. Marigot is typical of Caribbean towns, with gingerbread houses and sidewalk bistros. Market days are every Wednesday and Saturday morning, where one can find everything from coconuts, avocados, sweet potatoes and plenty of other tropical fruits and vegetables, all kinds of spices and fresh fish, to fine batik wraps, local arts, crafts and paintings.
Nearly everyday you will also find a great outdoor bazaar where you can pick up all your island trinkets in one place. I find this to be a lot of fun, not necessarily because of the shopping, but because of the people watching. There are all walks of life here during the day, all looking to spend some money to buy more stuff.
Stuff that will eventually end up in a yard sale somewhere. One of the things that makes Marigot so nice to visit is that it is small, easy to navigate, you can walk around the whole town in about 1 – 2 hours. Aside from great restaurants, fun, friendly people, a great fresh fish market early in the mornings there is Shopping. If you have money to spend, Marigot has a place for you to spend it. It’s not all cheap island trinkets here.
Channel, Cartier, Mont Blanc, the list goes on and on. I have dropped my fair share here for sure, but let me tell you great deals can be had here. Marigot has to compete with Phillipsburg for the tourist dollar, well specifically the Cruise Ship Tourist dollar. Cruise ships dock in Phillipsburg, more on that later.
This much is true, no matter where you want to spend your dollar, which is duty-free by the way, there is a place to do so. Also, always keep in mind negotiation is part of the buying process here. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to ask for a better deal, you may just get a pleasant surprise. In fact not only should you ask for a better deal, you should ask for a cocktail while your shopping. Seriously, a recent excursion at a jewelry store resulted in the most expensive 12 pack of Heineken in history, haha. The point is, you’ve been taken if your not negotiating.
There a number of great points of interest in and around Marigot as well. One of the most important locations on the French Side of the Island is Fort St. Louis, named after King Louis XVI. Overlooking Marigot Bay on the leeward side of the island sits the imposing figure of Fort St. Louis, the largest historical monument in St.Martin. Named for the famous crusading king of France, it was originally built in 1767 to protect the settlement at Marigot from foreign invaders. The plans were sent over directly from Versailles at the order of the ill-fated French king. Following the events of 1789, the fort was temporarily occupied by the Dutch to prevent the further spread of revolutionary democracy which had reached the island from Guadeloupe. Now, it no longer serves its former purpose, but the steep climb up to the summit provides a panoramic view of the island and the sea surrounding it, and the effort is well rewarded. The area is open 24/7 and there are signs explaining historical events.
The neighboring town of Grand Case is beginning to make a name for itself due to a large selection of Restaurants, one of my favorites is Le California, also try The Rainbow Room if you visit. Outstanding food and location right on the beach.
The sweeping curve of the beach at Grand Case near the northern tip of the island shelters a little fishing village that is famous not only for its fine foods but also for its distinctive style of architecture. Elaborate carvings and fretwork, in what is called a gingerbread style, adorn the fronts of the small wooden houses painted in pastel colors, and the effect is truly charming. Some of the island’s best restaurants also happen to be located in this area, including local dishes at barbecue stands called Lolo’s and souvenir shops. Do not miss the Tuesday night festivities during high season on the Blvd de Grand-Case.
Although I have not had the pleasure to visit this one, even though I’ve been here about 5 times now, is the Butterfly Farm near Le Gallion Beach. At the Butterfly Farm you can walk amongst the rare and exotic butterflies, from around the world flying freely in the tropical paradise, with music, flowers and fresh waterfalls. This will be on my list for the next visit.
I hope you find some time to make your way to Marigot one day, it is well worth the effort, the pay off will be a lifetime of memories.
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