Today we’ll take a short trip to Pointe-à-Pitre – the biggest city in Guadeloupe.

We’ll also take a look at a short history of the island which will be a nice introduction to my ultimate guide to Guadeloupe. This information will be useful for us for a better understanding of the island’s culture.

So keep reading to discover a bit of the Caribbean history.

A little bit of geography

Administratively, Guadeloupe forms the region of France as an overseas department. That’s why the citizens of the European Union can to visit this region with national ID only. The official currency is euro and officially spoken languages are French and Antillean Creole.

Guadeloupe is often considered as one island, meanwhile, it consists of two lands separated with a narrow strait. The lands are called Basse-Terre and Grande-Terre. Additionally, Guadeloupe’s department includes also a few smaller islands: Marie-Galante, La Désirade, and the Îles des Saintes.

The map of Guadeloupe - Sketch - Sunday in Wonderland Blog

All of Guadeloupe’s region definitely differ from each other. Grande-Terre is mostly covered with rolling hills and flat plains. It’s easier to live and pass through thanks to the well-developed road network.

Read more: 21 awesome things to do in Guadeloupe!

Basse-Terre, unlike, is mostly covered by wild forests and is dominated by nature. The land is mostly mountainous with the highest peak in the Lesser Antilles – the volcano La Grande Soufrière.

A dose of historical facts

Centuries ago, the island was settled for the first time by Arawak people coming from South America. They called their land Karukera – “The Island of Beautiful Waters”. With time, the island has been taken over by Caribs, another nation thanks to which the region gained its name.

They were living peacefully until November 1493, when Christopher Columbus landed on the beach while seeking fresh water. He named the discovered land after the Virgin Mary – Santa María de Guadalupe.

In 1635 the island was successfully taken by the French Company of the American Islands after years of resisting Spain. From that time Guadeloupe belonged to France, being given to British for a few short periods.

The possession of the island was in the center of many interests because of the lucrative sugar trade. The region was perfect for sugar cane culture which was its main advantage during the centuries.

The sugar factory of Darboussier'a from XIX century located in Pointe-à-Pitre - Sunday in Wonderland Blog
The sugar factory of Darboussier from XIX century located in Pointe-à-Pitre


Pointe-à-Pitre is the largest city on Guadeloupe. In 2015 the total number of inhabitants just in the city was 16 343 persons. Not too much, but counting also the suburbs it was 314 647 (in 2014). Less than Gdańsk, more than Gdynia. The administrative capital of the island is located in a town called Basse-Terre, nevertheless, it’s Pointe-à-Pitre which is considered as a commercial and economic center.

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Being honest, this city did not enchant me. Our main reason for going there was to find a computer service to find out if there was any chance for our computer to work (remember the story from the previous post?). We found a good place with a nicer serviceman than last time. But he advised us that it is more worth to by a new computer than to repair the old one. Well, that happens.

But coming back to the city: it does not look gorgeous. If you would spend only a few days on the island, I think you can boldly skip this point on your must-see list.

Block buildings in Pointe-à-Pitre - Sunday in Wonderland Blog
Block buildings in Pointe-à-Pitre
Main commercial street in Pointe-à-Pitre - Sunday in Wonderland Blog
Main commercial street in Pointe-à-Pitre

But besides this general impression, there are still some highlights worth seeing if you, however, would come to Pointe-à-Pitre. I would highly recommend visiting Mémorial ACTe because it’s definitely one of the best things to do in Pointe-à-Pitre.

If you would like to get to know his city as much as it’s possible, it is a great idea to take a guided trip. You can check out a few possibilities below.

The marks of an old-time architecture

The general visual impression of a city center is not the best at first glance. There is still a lot of work to do because plenty of city corners are unkempt. But if you look really closely, you can see some details remaining the old splendor. The city was destroyed a few times and get some serious damages after fires, earthquakes, and hurricanes, but you can still find some buildings from the XIX century.

In fact, this architecture made of steel skeleton and bricks looks charming even besides untended surroundings. The skilled eye will surely appreciate its old beauty.

City marketplace with a typical french stone tiles - Sunday in Wonderland Blog
City marketplace with typical french stone tiles
Old town buildings in Pointe-à-Pitre - Sunday in Wonderland Blog
Old town buildings in Pointe-à-Pitre
Fruits and vegetables market in Pointe-à-Pitre - Sunday in Wonderland Blog
Fruits and vegetable market in Pointe-à-Pitre

The museum of Saint-John Perse

One of the mentioned buildings serves nowadays as the museum of Saint-John Perse who was a French poet and diplomat born in 1887, in Pointe-à-Pitre.

In the museum, there is also a permanent exhibition of creole clothes shown in beautiful interiors from the century. For a while, you can imagine how people were living in Guadeloupe during the XIX century.

Read more: Discover more historical fun facts in Coffee Museum in Guadeloupe

The front facade of the John Saint-Perse's Museum - Sunday in Wonderland Blog
The front facade of the John Saint-Perse’s Museum
The interior of the John Saint-Perse's Museum - Sunday in Wonderland
The interior of John Saint-Perse’s Museum

The Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul

The interior of this modest from the outside temple truly surprised us. The impression is so much different from what we can see in European cathedrals because it is not made of stone but of metal.

The iron construction makes the church look so light. The whole interior is very brights thanks to colors of materials but also thanks to opened doors and windows – there is a nice air circulation inside.

The construction of the church started in 1807, but the building was a victim of an earthquake in 1843. First, it was made of wood, so the damages were huge. It was reconstructed years later and its structure was changed to metal. And the curiosity: the iron skeleton was made by the atelier of Gustave Eiffel.

The church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in Pointe-à-Pitre - Sunday in Wonderland Blog
The church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in Pointe-à-Pitre
The interior of iron church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in Pointe-à-Pitre - Sunday in Wonderland
The interior of the iron church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul

Mémorial ACTe

One of the best things to do in Pointe-à-Pitre is a visit to the Caribbean Center for Expressions and Memories of Trafficking and Slavery – Mémorial ACTe.

After wandering in the city center, a visit to this museum was a nice change. The building has a modern form and really enjoys the eye. The museum was launched in 2015, so the exhibitions have an advanced dimension.

The permanent exhibition concerns the problem of human trafficking and slavery during the centuries. The history of the Caribbean islands is rather brutal and not so grateful. With the colonization and discovering of gifts of the Caribbean lands, the slavery exploded in popularity. Millions of people, mostly from Africa, were have been brought to the region against their will and forced to hard work on plantations and farms.

This museum is an ideal place to visit during the sweet vacation in the paradise to make a stop and reflect for a while on the misery of other people. And think about what can we do about it.

And here’s a small curiosity for museums fans: you are not allowed to take your phone to the exhibition. You must leave it in the locker. Do you know what that means? No zombie-visitors taking thoughtless photos of everything, while you want to contemplate that everything! Really impressive, I was waiting for that innovation.

Modern design of Mémorial ACTe in Pointe-à-Pitre - Sunday in Wonderland Blog
The modern design of Mémorial ACTe
Modern design of Mémorial ACTe in Pointe-à-Pitre - Sunday in Wonderland Blog
Modern design of Mémorial ACTe in Pointe-à-Pitre - Sunday in Wonderland Blog

Verification of expectations

Pointe-à-Pitre will surely not land on the list of my favorite places. But I’m glad that I could check it out on my own skin.

Nevertheless, there were a few places that I liked in that city. And maybe the above list will become an inspiration to Guadeloupe visitors to see it anyway.

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