Pointe-à-Pitre is the largest town on the French overseas territory of Guadeloupe. Although it is not the capital (that is Basse-Terre) Pointe-à-Pitre is the economic and cultural hearth of the archipelago. The city itself does not have many things worth seeing; but there is a lively outdoor market near the harbor (go early in the morning when the market is the most colorful and the products are freshest. At the Edgar Clerc archeological museum you can learn more about the original Indian population of Guadeloupe. At Le Gosier beach there is an interesting sea aquarium.
The city has a population of more than 17,000, but Pointe-à-Pitre is surrounded by other towns and in the entire urban area live ten times as many people: more than 170,000. Most of the residents are descendants of African slaves.
Pointe-à-Pitre is located on the island of Grande-Terre, part of Guadeloupe, on the Bay Petit Cul-de-Sac Marin. The city is near the Rivière Salée (Salt River), the narrow strait which separates Grande-Terre from Basse-Terre. There is a big difference between these two main islands. Basse-Terre is volcanic in origin and very green; Grande-Terre is composed of limestone and is relatively flat and dry. This island does have beautiful beaches. Guadeloupe is an archipelago that belongs to the Lesser Antilles, north of the Windward Islands.
The city is Guadeloupe's commercial center, especially because of the harbor, where both freight and passenger ships dock. The largest harbor (Port de Jarry) lies across the bay. Guadeloupe exports agricultural products (bananas, coffee, cocoa and sugar), meat and dairy products (yogurt, milk) and textiles). Tourism is of great importance to the local economy. Many cruise ships stop at Guadeloupe and Le Gosier (not far from Pointe-à-Pitre) is a major holiday resort.
The airport (in French: Le Raizet of Aéroport Guadeloupe Pôle Caraïbes) is located 2.5 kilometers northwest of the city. The airport is located only ten minutes from the center of Pointe-à-Pitre by rental car.
Several private bus companies operate services to other towns on Guadeloupe. There are no timetables or official bus stops: just raise your hand and you can get on. Furthermore, there are many taxis, but for destinations outside of town these are too expensive. There are also ferry connections to other islands of the archipelago, including Dominica and Martinique.
One of the best ways to explore Guadeloupe is by rental car. The main roads are of excellent quality, but drive carefully on smaller roads! These can be unpaved or there hasn't been maintenance for years, causing large holes. It is absolutely not advisable to drive in the dark. Finding a parking space is almost never a problem.
In Point-à-Pitre and on Le Gosier beach, St. Anne and St. Felix there are a wide range of accommodations available. Prices for accommodation on Guadeloupe are quite high. If you're going to Guadeloupe in high season you should book your hotel well in advance. Please read the experiences of other travelers on several travel websites. Some hotels in Guadeloupe (especially on the smaller islands) are not very strict with hygiene of service.
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