French Side for Genuine Caribbean AtmosphereAuthor: Laura Lenz
Date of Trip: May 2013
We are pretty experienced Caribbean travelers and usually stay away from destinations with high influx of many cruise ship arrivals, such as St. Maarten. Though, we gave it a try and selected St. Martin, the French part of the small island with two countries on it. We were pleasantly surprised.
The French part is much less busy, some areas economically even somewhat hit by the high Euro exchange rate of past years, and less developed with regard to hotels, casinos, high rise apartment buildings, which St. Maarten visitor are used to. The French part, especially the village of Grand Case, has still small, genuine Caribbean dwellings, nice fine cuisine restaurants between, inexpensive eating places at the former fish market, and beach bars for watching the sunset right on the beach. Most beaches are very quiet except Orient Beach, which features a string of beach restaurants and bars and a part of the beach is occupied by the clothing optional community of "Club O".
The French part has only a few boutique hotels and a Radisson hotel at a rather remote end of the island. We selected a vacation rental from a website dedicated to the island, www.St-Martin-Vacation.com and found a moderately priced villa. Rates on the island cover a wide range from about $60/night for a basic studio to open end, villas at $10,000/week or more. The majority of villas is priced between $2,000 and $3,000/week.
The island with its unique contrast of French part St. Martin and former Dutch part St. Maarten provides a lot of choice. The range of things to do is much larger than on most other islands, and the rates are very competitive.
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