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Saint Barthélemy

Saint-Barthélémy is a top luxury destination located in the Northern Caribbean in the French West Indies. The combination of outstanding beaches, preserved nature, top notch accommodations, impeccable restaurants and the French touch make this small island one of the most private and exclusive resorts in the world.

Map of Villas in Saint Barthélemy

Introducing Saint Barthélemy

Hidden in the Caribbean

Saint-Barthélémy is a part of four territories among the Leeward Islands in the Northeastern Caribbean that comprise the French West Indies. For many years it was a part of the bigger island Guadeloupe. Today, St Bart’s is known as one of the top luxury destinations in the world.

Covering an area of 25 square kilometres, the island only counts about 9,000 inhabitants but its climate attracts more than 70,000 people during the winter holiday season, especially for Christmas and New Year’s Day.

The Stars’ Exclusive Destination

As one of the smallest islands of the area, St Barts is appreciated by the rich and famous for its privacy. In fact, as a very exclusive and private destination, St Barts hosts the most famous stars – do not be surprised to come across Jay-Z or Alicia Keys during your stay. The place is a true haven of peace very far from the hustle and bustle of city life.

An Escape in Paradise

Given its attractiveness, world class restaurants can be found on the island as well as luxury brand shops and luxurious spas. Nightlife will not disappoint you with top of the range bars and clubs that will transport you further than you could ever imagine.  For French culture and cuisine lovers, this is the ideal getaway where you will find the best France has to offer.

Surrounded by shallow reefs, the volcanic island is also home to fabulous beaches and sights. Along the coves with beautiful turquoise waters and conserved wild life, take time to go snorkel or explore around by yacht or jet-ski. Winter from December to April is the dry season and offers average temperatures of 30 degrees which makes St Barts a sun-filled relaxing place.

Tranquility, serenity, charm, luxury, perfection – there is no complete list of adjectives to describe the island.

History and Culture

An Unworthy Island

In 1493, during his second voyage, navigator Christopher Columbus discovered the Lesser Antilles chain of islands, including Ouanalao, the first name of St Barts. Because of its lack of interest at that time, the island was left by Columbus who went on to other discoveries.

In 1648 the French nobleman Longvilliers de Poincy settled in the close St Kitts decided to colonize Saint Barthélemy and sent 50 men to establish a settlement. This small colony grew but in 1656 the Carib Indians massacred these first European inhabitants so that the island was abandoned. After peace was made in 1659 De Poincy sent a group of 30 men. By 1664, the colony had a population of 100.

Until 1674 the island was under the rule of the French and attached to the Colony of Guadeloupe. Corsairs, thieves, and pirates made it their refuge. Despite a British invasion that plundered the island in 1744, Saint-Barthélémy remained a French possession. But in 1784 an arrangement took place between King Louis XVI and King Gustav III that traded the island from France to Sweden in exchange for a warehouse in Gothenburg – today’s second largest Swedish city and a main trade port at that time.

An Economic Miracle from Sweden

Consequently Saint Barthélémy became a Swedish possession. King Gustav made intelligent economic decisions such as declaring Gustavia a duty-free port, and St Bart’s expanded considerably so that a period of progress and prosperity started. By 1815, the population had grown to 6,000 people. However, the Napoleonic Wars and a series of natural catastrophes such as repeated periods of drought, hurricanes, torrential rains, and a terrible fire in 1852 made King Oscar II decide to retrocede the island to France.

Ups and Downs

In 1878, after a popular referendum, the nationality of the island was once again French. An era of sleepy calm began for Saint Barthélemy perturbed by invasions by the British flotilla, slave revolts, and the lack of resources, which pushed families to migrate to the American Virgin Islands.

The Second World War created years of misery. In 1946 the first schools opened their doors, and the first roads were traced through the mountains and into the countryside. The Port of Gustavia knew more and more activity, and the island received electricity in 1961.

Tourism Soars in the 80’s

In the 1980s, life on the island evolved in every way – tourism became the motor of the economy, the conditions in the schools were much improved, sports became quite popular and changed the habits of the population. An electric plant was built to produce electricity and wires carried the power to all corners of the island. Important projects were led to modernize the island as the airport expanded and continued to expand through its most recent renovation.

Today, the island keeps evolving and new projects are planned. Environmental protection has become a burning issue as the population and tourism continue to grow.

Through a referendum in 2003, island residents sought separation from the administrative jurisdiction of Guadeloupe, which was finally accomplished in 2007. The island of Saint Barthélemy became an Overseas Collectivity. A governing territorial council was elected for its administration, which has provided the island with some autonomy. St. Barts has retained its free port status.

The Coat of Arms

After the national archives asked every French municipality and department to create its own “symbolic crest” in 1977, the municipality of Saint Barthélemy contacted a heraldic artist who helped to create the coat of arms taking into account the complex history of Saint Barthélemy that left many important symbols. Ouanalao was the Carib Indian name for Saint Barthélemy, the Maltese Cross illustrates that the island once belonged to the Order of Malta, the fleur-de-lis represents the French monarchy that marked France’s rule of the island, the gold mural crown represents the Greek goddesses that protected the fortune of a city, the crowns of three Swedish kings remind of the Swedish era of the island and the Pelicans are the mascot of the island.

Things to do

St Barth’s Music Festival

A unique performing arts festival with the finest live music and dance performances in an informal setting of local churches and community halls. The musicians are soloists and principals from symphony orchestras from all over the world. The singers are from the Metropolitan Opera, the New York Opera, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and La Scala in Milan. The dancers have performed with the American Ballet Theater of New York City, the Paris Opera Ballet, the San Francisco Ballet, the Boston Ballet and the Bolshoi Company in Russia. After the concerts, do not be surprised to spot the performers dining in one of the fine restaurants the island has to offer.

Saint Barth’s Fun Cup

Three days of windsurfing competition and an extraordinary occasion for all those who are passionate about windsurfing. With the ambiance of a top sporting event and a strong sense of conviviality, do not miss this sporting event that hosts the best world champions.

Arrival of the AG2R Transat

The arrival of the famous transatlantic race. Aboard their boats, the sailors head the race toward St Barth, the pearl of the Caribbean where their arrival is always well prepared. The local tradition is to welcome the boats with the sound of foghorns while blowing conch shells.

St Barth’s Summer Sessions

13 Days of live music with more than 30 musicians from 7 different countries and 40 concerts in 17 venues! Since 2009, the non-profit organization “St Barth Rocks” has been making this electro rock music festival that has incredibly spread.

St Barth’s Cata Cup

The most important event for sports catamarans in the Caribbean. St Barth’s Cata Cup was born in 1992, on the momentum of a few sailing enthusiasts and has been constantly growing since his creation.

Places to see

Natural Reserve of Saint Barth

It protects the island’s environment. Its main missions are the monitoring of marine habitats and mammals, the tracking of turtles, the support of wildlife, and to raise public awareness. The best diving and snorkeling spots of the island are in the reserve but get informed of the rules! You will appreciate the iguanas, the aquatic plants “water lily”, and many species of orchids.

The Wall House

One of the vestiges of the Swedish era. This two-story stone building is currently home to the island’s library and its principal museum. Located at La Pointe on Gustavia Harbour, the recently restored historic building features artifacts and pictorial documents of the past of Saint-Barthélemy.

The Little Anglican Church

Another vestige from the Swedish times. Topped with a wooden cupola and built in various colonial styles, its houses are painted in beautiful bright Caribbean colors behind their white clapboard facades.

Fort Gustav

Built in 1787 by the Swedish, this fort sits atop a steep hillside and houses historic ruins such as ramparts, guardhouse, munitions depot, wood-burning oven, cannons, etc. It is also a sight to enjoy breathtaking view overlooking Gustavia and its port. Take the cactus-studded path to come to the place !

39 Villas in Saint Barthélemy