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Saint-Martin is an overseas collectivity which is an integral part of the French Republic. It benefits from a political stability which prevents it from being overthrown. At the same time, it follows the laws of mainland France.
Generally speaking, the flight time for a direct flight between Paris and Saint-
Martin is eight hours, or nine hours with a stop in Guadeloupe or Martinique. Saint-Martin is 7,500 km from Paris.
To travel to Saint-Martin, it’s an 8 hour flight and then another 45 minute flight operated by Air Antilles Express.
Whether you’re looking to purchase local products or only to visit, don’t miss the Wednesday and Saturday morning markets. Picturesque and lively, they present a perfect little snapshot of the island.
An event not to be missed
Don’t miss the Heineken Regatta, which takes place in March. During this sailing race, multiple events are organized around the marinas.
Sunsets and sunrises
Don’t forget that in the tropics, the sun rises early (between 5:00 and 6:00 am), and sets early (between 5:30 and 6:30 pm).
The majority of post offices and banks close at 4:00 pm in Marigot.
For getting around the island, there are buses running to all the main sites. You can also use taxis, but be aware that rush hour can be very busy.
Be careful not to venture into certain areas late at night, especially those near the beaches.
Be equally careful while swimming in the sea, as the beaches are not closely guarded. And last but not least, the local flora and fauna hold their share of surprises. Centipede bites can be very painful, and can even send you to the hospital in certain cases. Also beware of the Manchineel trees. These are native trees whose sap can cause bad burns.
The majority of post offices and banks close at 4:00 in Marigot.
Vacations and holidays
Les Mardis de Grand-Case (Harmony Nights): Tuesday, January 10 - Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Saint-louis & Rambaud Village Festival: May 14
International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, Marigot : May 27, 2012
Grand-Case Village Festival: July 21
Victor Schoelcher and Grand-Case Festival: July 21
Saint-Martin Festival: November 11.
Going to / Leaving the airportSee detail
Saint-Martin’s Princess Juliana Airport is located in the Dutch part of the island of Saint-Martin, in the Antilles. Its international airport code (IATA) is SXM, and this is what will be on your luggage tags when you fly to the Antilles.
The airport serves the French part, despite the fact that it’s in the Dutch part of the island. This airport gets its name from Juliana, the former Queen of the Netherlands.
Please be aware that there is a second airport on the island in the Netherlands territory: the Grand-Case Espérance Airport.
Learn more about the Princess Juliana Airport by visiting its website.
Not to be missed
Grand-Case one of the island’s quintessential villages, with its wooden houses and colorful gardens. Be sure to also visit Anse Marcel Beach, which overlooks the incredibly clear water. Finally, the Pic du Paradis (425 meters above sea level) offers a breathtaking panorama of the entire island.
Monuments and museums
Make sure you visit Fort Louis. The Durat bridge, Mount Vernon Candy and Old Street (the Dutch side) are worth the detour.
The Arawaks Museum recounts the history of the island. The Rum Museum, entirely devoted to rum, is very educational.
The Nature Reserve of Saint-Martin
Located on the east side of the island, this reserve is a veritable sanctuary for the island’s wildlife. In this entirely protected area, you can discover rare species and enjoy a unique ecosystem.
Diving and swimming
These two activities are obviously must-dos in Saint-Martin. You can also discover the amazing wild islets near Oyster Pond.
You will find West Indian specialties such as chicken Colombo, cod fritters or black pudding. On the island, you can also try grilled shark or rare fish (such as marlin or thazard) as well as the many exotic fruits that are hard to find in mainland France (such as soursop or carambola).
The food capital of the Caribbean
Food is one of the jewels of Saint-Martin, and is rich with a long tradition of excellence. Cosmopolitan, its cuisine is both varied and innovative. Bistros serve spicy flavored dishes, while in high-end restaurants, chefs marry tradition and local riches with their sophisticated savoir-faire.
Restaurants and “lolos”
“Lolos” are small open air restaurants where the food is prepared on a giant grill (often made from recycled barrels). On the menu: ribs, chicken, lobster, fish (swordfish and sea bream).
Numerous on the island, these establishments are less expensive than restaurants, strictly speaking, which can also be found nearly everywhere.
As in all the Antilles, rum and cocktails made with rum are plentiful and delicious, as is fresh fruit juice. Guavaberry is a traditional liquor of Saint-Martin and is produced from rum aged in oak barrels, cane sugar and wild guava berries from the center of the island. This traditional beverage is especially consumed during Christmas.
Planter’s punch recipe :
150 ml white rum or aged rum
300 ml orange juice
300 ml pineapple juice
300 ml guava juice
a dash of Angostura (optional)
Adjust the amounts according to your tastes, and serve cold.
Drink in moderation.
The island of Saint-Martin is divided into two: the north side, which is the French side, linked to Guadaloupe, and the south side, which is the Dutch side, and is a self-governing colony of the Netherlands.
A land having experienced multiple waves of immigration, Saint-Martin has as many as 100 nationalities. Cosmopolitan, the island’s various areas each have their own character. Several languages are spoken: French, English, Dutch, Spanish and three types of Creole (French, English and Spanish).
Music occupies a very important place in the life of Saint-Martin’s people. Numerous concerts (zouk, reggae, gwo ka, etc.) take place throughout the year. On the island, you can hear many different types of music which are a blend of hip hop, salsa, “steel drum” or “Panamn”, the local dance.
A festive atmosphere
The main events are the February Carnival (the most important celebration of the year), All Saints Day (with grave cleaning, picnics and illumination of the cemeteries) and Christmas parades (with costume parades, traditional creole meals, songs and decorations). Generally speaking, you can dance the zouk every night in the various bars on the island or right on the beach during outdoor dances.
Beautiful warm weather
The island enjoys a rather dry tropical climate due to its low elevation. The weather is warm all year round: 25°C on average, and as high as 32 °C, but rarely below 20 °C. The best months are May and June. From July to October, the weather is sometimes wetter, and cyclones can occur.