Guadeloupe , sometimes known as the Butterfly Island (French: I'ile Papillon), on account of the shape of two of its major islands, is a group of islands in the eastern Caribbean, and is a French overseas department. It is located southeast of Puerto Rico.
Guadeloupe has been a French possession since 1635 except for the years 1813-1814 when it came into Swedish possession as a consequence of the Napoleonic Wars. The island of Saint Martin is shared with the Netherlands; its southern portion is named Sint Maarten and is part of the Netherlands Antilles and its northern portion is named Saint-Martin and is part of Guadeloupe.
Guadeloupe is an archipelago of nine inhabited islands, including Basse-Terre, Grande-Terre, Marie-Galante, La Desirade, Iles des Saintes (2), Saint-Barthelemy, Iles de la Petite Terre, and Saint-Martin (French part of the island of Saint Martin).
Don't miss the spectacular waterfalls in the jungle of Basse-Terre. Some are within 5-10 minutes walking distance from the nearest parking lot, some require at least 3-4 hours of hiking (those are, of course less frequented by other tourists and you might find yourself alone at a spectacular waterfall in the middle of nowhere - an amazing experience!).
The local rum distilleries offer tours (check for opening times as they may very from season to season) which are certainly worth the while since rum production is a very integral part of Guadeloupe's economy. And sampling the local rums is definitely worth the while.
Even though they might not be the best way to get around the island, a ride on the bus is still an experience you should not miss. Cheap, full of locals, conducted by fearless drivers, you can enjoy the beautiful Caribbean panorama to the sound of Guadeloupean zouk music. Some routes are not good for passengers with weak stomachs.
Guadeloupe is an integral part of France so it has the same rules as France, which you can get from France's page.
American Airlines (from San Juan, PR), Delta Airlines (weekly from Atlanta), Air Caraïbes, Corsair, Air France, Air Europe, Air Canada, Cubana... To get more information, you can have a look at Guadeloupe Airport website .
From Guadeloupe, to travel in the surrounding places, here is an idea of the prices (roundtrip): Trinidad ~250 €, Barbade ~260 €, Puerto Rico ~300 €, Dominican Republic ~350 €, Cuba ~550 €
There is an Air Pass to travel between most of the islands of the lesser Antilles delivered by the regional company LIAT Airlines , it costs about $500 for one month and is unlimited, but you have to pay taxes for each airport.
You can obtain information at Agence Penchard, 1 bis rue de la République 97100 Basse-Terre, Tel 0590 812 712 Fax 0590 810 711
From some neighbouring islands, you can travel with your car on ferry companies (See section by boat).
From Martinique, Dominica, Saint Lucia, Marie Galante, Les Saintes: Express des Iles , Brudey Frères , Star Ferries.
By car. The bus system is infrequent and unreliable. Cars can be hired at the airport in Pointe-à-Pitre. The main roads are of the same quality as metropolitan France, but smaller roads are often uneven, pot-holed and frankly dangerous. Prudence is required! Drivers are often undisciplined, but rarely aggressive.
French is the official language of Guadeloupe, although Creole is widely spoken. Everyone understands French but few people understand English.
See also: French phrasebook
Scuba diving and snorkeling. There is an amazing assortment of tropical fish, even in water less than one metre deep. For those who can't swim, glass bottomed boat trips are on offer.
There are many festivals to attend to in Guadeloupe. In Guadeloupe they call them "parties on the street". They use colourful ribbons and tie them round their wrists to resemble the colours of all the nations. Their parties last all through the night until the early morning. They sometimes call them "swatson".
Not to be missed, the plate Colombo (chicken, rice, curry), imported from India, has become the typical regional plate. the expected cost for food is anywhere from 4.99 to 38.99
The local drink is white rum. Do try the "'Ti Punch" (Petit Punch/small Punch) (rum, lime, and sugar cane/brown sugar). Packs a wallop, so be prepared to melt into the island way of life.
For European people coming from an EU country, working in Guadeloupe is allowed without problem. If you're from outside the EU, you will probably need a work permit - check with the French Embassy in your country. Do not forget though that the unemployment rate is around 28%. But if you work in the health sector (doctor, nurse), it will be much easier. Else you could find a job in bars, restaurants, and/or nightclubs. The better is to have a precise idea of what you want to do, inform yourself and prospect before going there.
Voluntary service: Volontariat Civil à l'Aide Technique (VCAT). Conditions: you must be French or from another EU-member state or a country belonging to the European Economic Area. You must be over 18 and under 28 years old (inclusive). You must not have had your civic rights revoked by a court or have been convicted of certain offences. VCAT , Préfecture Guadeloupe .
The main tourist areas (city center of Point-à-Pitre, Le Gosier, St. Anne, St. Felix...) are pretty safe, especially by day. When it gets dark, you should avoid walking around in Point-à-Pitre alone and stay on the main roads and plazas and be aware of smaller side streets. Always try to keep a low profile as a tourist to avoid attracting unwanted attention.
There is no particular disease but you should protect yourself from the sun. Sanitary and medical facilities in Guadeloupe are good. Health care in Guadeloupe is controlled by a state-owned organisation (Sécurité Sociale). Doctors are available in almost every village. Tap water is usually safe for consumption. Public sources of water are unsafe if labeled with "Eau non potable" (no drinking water). Visitors from European Union should bring a E111 form with them. Ask details at your local health care organisation.
While officially a part of France, the country does not have a very europeanized way of life. In fact, life in the Caribbean has a much slower pace. Busses run very infrequently, taxis are hard to find, smaller stores open or close not always on time, queuing in stores is sometimes very time consuming... Try to fall into the local pace and do not complain about minor annoyances as Guadeloupeans will see that as an offense to their way of life. And they are proud of the distinction between caribbean and metropolian (French) life style!
Country code: 590
Dialing within Guadeloupe: all numbers have 10 digits. Landlines begin by 0590 and mobile phones by 0690.
Dialing to Guadeloupe: international prefix + 590 + phone number without the first 0 (this leads to dial twice 590 which is normal). If you dial from France, just use the 10 digits number.
Dialing from Guadeloupe: the international prefix is 00.
Calling to a mobile phone is more expensive than to a landline. Number beginning by 0800 are free phone. Number beginning by 089 are premium-rate.
Few foreign mobile phone companies offer international roaming to Guadeloupe so double-check before leaving. Your company should provide specific roaming to Guadeloupe since it has deferent mobile phone companies than in mainland France.
Alternatively, you should be able to get a Pay-as-you-go SIM card from various locations. There are two companies offering wireless services: Bouygues Telecom Caraïbe and Orange Caraïbe .
Post offices are found in all cities. Letter boxes are colored in yellow.
Less than 20g (postcard, letter with one or two pages in a regular envelop) :
The basic stamp for regular mail is red with the head of "Marianne" (the Republic logo). It does not carry its value and can therefore be used even after a price increase. It is sold in all Post Offices, Bureaux de Tabacs (Tobacco sellers identified by a red lozenge) and postcard vendors. The latter may also carry other common stamps.
In most Post Offices you will find an automatic machine (yellow) with a scale and a screen. Just put your mail on the scale, tell the machine (French or English) the destination, pay the indicated amount and the machine will deliver a printed stamp.