Grand-Bourg On a BudgetMarie-Galante is an island of the Guadeloupe archipelago, a French overseas territory in the Caribbean. Sometimes called the "Big Pancake" for its circular shape and flat terrain, the island is a prime location for sugar fields which provide the ingredients for Marie Galante's famous cane juice rum. The island is also known for its many windmills, beaches, and historic plantations.
SightsVisitors come to Marie Galante for its beautiful landscape dotted with old windmills and its nineteenth-century heritage apparent in historic buildings for sugar production and plantation sites. One of the best-preserved windmills is that of Bezard which still has its internal grinding mechanisms. It is located to the north of the town of Capesterre-de-Marie-Galante. Another historic structure is the Murat House, a plantation site located near Grand-Bourg, which was built in the early nineteenth century. Today the building has been converted into an ecomuseum and is listed as a Historic Monument where visitors can see the ruins of the old sugar refinery and a garden of medicinal plants. Roussel-Trianon house is another old sugar refinery to the north of Grand-Bourg. These sites and others offer insight into the islands cultural and historic heritage.
The beaches of Marie Galante are another draw for visitors. One of the most popular beaches, the beach of FeuillÃ¨re on the south coast, features white sand, coconut trees, and a turquoise lagoon. It is protected by a coral reef, which makes for great snorkeling. On the west coast, more lovely beaches can be found at Anse Canot, Moustique, Folle Anse, and Trois Ilets.
NeighborhoodsThe island is divided into three communes: Grand-Bourg, Capesterre-de-Marie-Galante, and Saint-Louis. Grand-Bourg is the most populous of the three and is home to the most important port of Marie Galante. It is a picturesque town with a nineteenth-century church and nearby fort. Other significant landmarks here include the Murat and Roussel-Trianon plantations, the Bielle distillery, Punch Pond, and Armand Baptiste Sculpture Gallery.
Capesterre-de-Marie-Galante is especially known for its beaches like the beach of FeuillÃ¨re and the beach of Petite Anse. Also nearby is the historic Bezard Windmill.
Saint-Louis is located on the north end of the island with many beaches on its west end and a famous natural arch carved by the sea called Gueule Grand-Gouffre.
ActivitiesOn land, Marie Galante has plenty to offer in historic and cultural sightseeing, from its many plantation ruins and old windmills to its famous rum distilleries. While there were once 100 such windmills that served to operate sugar mills on Marie Galante, some 70 of these are still standing. Explore the island's past through these sights, while also taking in some of the beautiful island scenery. Visitors also enjoy the distilleries of Bellevue, Bielle, and Poisson, which offer tours of their facilities. Here people can learn about the various stages of the rum production process and also sample the famous spirit.
The beaches of Marie Galante offer another set of activities to be had on the water. Some choose to lounge beachside and go swimming while others engage in kitesurfing or snorkeling on the surrounding turquoise waters.
Marie-Galante also has plenty of trails for easy hiking with sign-posted paths around Anse Canot, the town of Capesterre, and the Murat house.
Food and DiningLocated in the West French Indies, Marie Galante, like the rest of Guadeloupe, has a mix of culinary influences from France, India, and Africa. As a result, the entire archipelago is especially renowned for Creole delicacies, Caribbean staples, and French classics. Fresh seafood provides many of the main ingredients with items like mahi mahi, conch, land crab, and Caribbean lobster. Also popular is a kind of curry, known as Colombo in the French Antilles. This Creole dish is more reminiscent of a stew than a typical curry and is generally concocted with Colombo powder, a mix of cumin, turmeric, coriander, and cloves, all tossed with vegetables and meat or seafood. There are also a number of tasty street foods some of which include bokit and accras. Bokit usually consists of two pieces of deep-fried 'bread' stuffed with meats, cheeses, and a vinegar-based sauce, while accras are a kind of fried fritter typically filled with cod, lobster, or shrimp. Other specialties include coconut sorbet, fresh-squeezed fruit juices, and a rum-based cocktail called Ti' Punch. The island itself is famous for its cane juice rum.
TransportationThere is a small airport on Marie Galante that serves the island, however, most visitors fly into Pointe-a-Pitre International Airport (or Le Raizet Airport), located on Grande Terre. It is the main hub for Air Caraibes and Air Antilles Express, and also offers flights from Air France, Air Transat, American Airlines, and Norwegian Air Shuttle, amongst others.
Ferry boat services are also available between the islands of Guadeloupe. There are several departures from Pointe-a-Pitre on the island of Grande Terre to Marie Galante daily. The island is also accessible by boat from Saint-Francois.