Sint-Maarten -> SMX
We invite you to travel with us in the Caribbean…
We wish to share with you our culture, our gastronomy, our heritage, our History, our childhood anecdotes or our grandparents’ stories.
You will have the pleasure to discover eclectic and colorful subjects!
Sint-Maarten a beautiful island where life is good in the Caribbean!
But where is this confetti of only 87 km2?
The French-Dutch island is located in the northwest of the Caribbean, 250 km north of Guadeloupe and 240 km east of Puerto Rico, north of Venezuela.
Did you know that? One of the oldest Amerindian remains has been found on Saint-Martin: a lambi conch axe dating back to 1800 BC. The island has therefore been inhabited since those ancient times…
In the beginning, there was a tribe cousin of the Maya: the Arawaks. A peaceful and cultured people; they lived in osmosis with the God of nature and venerated their women within the tribe because they gave life! This is why they named the island in their honor: OUALICHI: the island of women!
A few years later, during the 16th century, the great era of corsairs and freebooters, the Spanish, French, Dutch, Portuguese, English and Flemish coveted this island for its protected anchorages and its salt deposits, which earned it the nickname SOUALIGA; Land of Salt.
It was during this century that the Amerindians were reduced to slaves and deported to the neighboring islands.
There are still some grey areas concerning the real discovery of Saint-Martin but here is the most likely story… Christopher Columbus landed on this small rock on November 11, 1493, Saint-Martin’s day, the birthday of this apostle of Mercy who will become the symbol of sharing; Saint Martin of Tours, who entered into grace for having torn his coat in two to warm a shivering poor man.
Our navigator therefore named the island after this former soldier!
After the arrival of French and Spanish freebooters, Holland settled on the island in 1631 with the aim of exploiting the natural salt deposits, a rare commodity at the time. However, because of its modest surface area, the island gradually lost interest, especially in the eyes of the Spanish who ended up deserting it in 1648.
The French and the Dutch then threw themselves into the battle to conquer the island, but neither of the two parties managed to make the other give in without starting an open war. So why not share the island instead of going to war? So they signed the treaty of Mont des Accords (or Mons Concordia, named after the mountain on which the agreement was made) on March 23, 1648, which divided the island of Saint Martin in two: each to his own!
There are many legends about this division and it is in this way that the running and not the cannons defined the contours of the French and Dutch parts.
The best athletes of each community are placed back to back, one facing north, the other facing south. Their mission: to run along the coast. Their meeting point will allow the border to be drawn. A unique event in international diplomatic history.
We will never know if the French champion ran faster, if he cheated a little or if he used some kind of “aRHUMatised” drink! But the Dutch were allowed to have chosen the flattest and most exploitable part of the island…
This is the reason why, today, the French part extends over 53km² while the Dutch part over 34km²; on one side an overseas collectivity within the French Republic (36.000 inhabitants) and on the other a component of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (43.000 inhabitants).
As a border, a monument to the glory of Concordia as well as a signpost on the side of the road that goes around the island. It is called N7, no need to look for the other six.
There is a cosmopolitan atmosphere; all languages are spoken here; the sounds are mixed in French, Creole, English, Dutch and Spanish!
In the stores, conversion is done in euros, florins and dollars. Saint-Martin is the only region in France where the American currency is legal tender. To put it simply, in some shops 1 euro = 1 dollar. The Americans are delighted.
Nowadays, what attracts people to Saint-Martin is not the salt but the color of its waters… They set the island in a jewel box of emeralds and turquoises; with no less than 37 beaches, each with its own specificity, there is something for everyone!
Not forgetting the unmissable islands of Pinel and Tintamarre, protected areas that are part of the Nature Reserve of Saint-Martin.
A little hungry? Go to the “lolos” (local restaurants); a wooden table, a bench, a “doudou”* that holds the grill. You can enjoy fish, pork chops, lobsters, stuffed crabs, cristophine gratins, lambis fricassees… all accompanied by an iced Carib’**, a planteur or a ti’ punch and the gourmet island earns its authenticity star.
Between two sunbaths, the Paradis peak which culminates at 424 m of altitude allows a moment of coolness on the heights and offers a magnificent panorama on Saint-Martin.
Some monkeys or iguanas will spy on you from far, well hidden in the trees…
For visits; Philisburg, the Dutch capital, is shaped with greenbacks that American vacationers come to spend in duty-free stores, bars, casinos and other places a little hotter … This part of the island is called “Las Vegas of the Caribbean”! Very festive atmosphere guaranteed.
Don’t forget Juliana airport located on the seaside; “the place to be” is Maho Beach, come and get an adrenaline shot
– at the time of the takeoff; the runway is so close that the breath of the engines propels you in the water
– Be careful with your bathing suits!
– At the moment of landing, the planes are a little less than 8 meters above you! You can take a selfie to make your friends around the world jealous!
On the “French Touch” side, Marigot, Grand-Case, Orient Bay, Oyster Pond are a must to soak up the Caribbean atmosphere and the Creole architecture…
Two devastating hurricanes (Luis in 1995 and Irma in 2017) have left their mark, but the hymn to a happy life resounds at every corner and the island has retained its title of rare pearl of the Antilles.
St. Martin is a destination of choice for people seeking sun, water sports and turquoise waters lined with fine sandy beaches. The quality of the services and the kindness of the population is not a legend: its nickname suits it perfectly: the “Friendly Island” promises you a total change of scenery and despite its size, you will be surprised by the richness of these places.
*Doudou in Creole: any representative of women is called a “doudou”!
**** Carib’ beer is an institution in the West Indies, brewed in Trinidad and Tobago since 1950; a light blond lager, sympathetically sparkling, made form barley malt. You will enjoy it on a beach at Caribbean sunset!
Alcohool abuse is bad for your health, please consume in moderation.
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