With luxury hotels, an international golf course, a casino and a marina, the commune of Saint François has become one of the main seaside resorts of the island but has nonetheless managed to keep the charm and authenticity of a fishermen's village.
Situated at the extreme point East of Grande terre, Saint François was not populated for a long time due to the distance and significant dryness of the area. In effect, it wasn't until the 17th century that the first settlers who then prospered in sugar production. When slavery was abolished, many indians who had come under contract from Pondichéry and Calcutta to work in the cane fields stayed in Saint François where one inhabitant out of three is of Indian origin. The surrounding countryside is still scattered with old windmills which form the heritage of the past sugar era.
Today, market garden produce (melons and tomatoes) tend to replace the canes. And even if a lot of fields remain, there is only the factory of Gardel and the distillery Damoiseau, in Moule, to accommodate the canes. Nowadays, Saint François is more a fishermen center, as the many barges dancing on the water in the new fishing port testify, protected by a huge sea wall. When night falls, a number of little restaurants are scattered in the fishing port of Saint François, from gargote à poulet boucané to gastronomic restaurants without forgetting Creole cantines.
But first and foremost, Saint François is gettting to be a popular seaside resort. The dryness that turned away the first settlers is a major asset to the community which experiences the lowest rainfall of the island. The exceptional beaches and the preserved environment can be added to the list. Indeed, the charm and authenticity of Saint François has been kept through carefully planned urbanization. Since 1970, the community has been equipped with a golf course, a marina, a casino and many luxury hotels and rivals Sainte Anne as the envied place of the challenger of the Gosier village in this tourist hit parade.
This tourist complex is situated in the East part of the community. Crossed by an avenue bordered with boutiques and restaurants, the marine can be found on the right. It is a pleasant place to stroll when night falls and to dine in one of the charming restaurants which surround it. It is where the shuttles leave from for Désirade and Marie-Galante and the boats for Petite Terre. Higher up, the casino welcomes players and other one-armed bandits. A large range of hotels of different standards is spread up to the point where the international 18 hole golf course is located, designed by Robert Trent Jones. Among coconut trees and royal palm trees, it is a well-groomed course which also has a club house, a boutique and a restaurant to offer.
Situated along the sea front, Saint François conceals exceptional beaches among the most beautiful on the island. At the village entrance, the magnificent beach of Raisins Clairs unreels its band of white sand near the transparent waters of the lagoon. Unfortunately, there are less and less seagrapes on the sea front, which have been replaced by almond trees which offer more shade. The center includes two beaches, at the end of the Avenue de l’Europe : the beach of the Lagoon and the superb beach of the Meridien hotel, bordered with coconut trees. As you leave the village on your way to la Pointe des Châteaux, the road along the sea front, punctuated with little beaches, stretches its ribbon amongst magnificent landscapes and wild and turbulent vegetation.
After the hameau of the Anse Kahouanne, to the left, a path leads to the Anse à la Gourde, a long beach of white sand, particularly popular amongst the local population at weekends. Further along, to the left, the Anse tarare is a pretty little creek with clear waters, but essentially occupied by nudists who appreciate the isolation of the place.
At the end of the road, the Pointe des Châteaux rises its rocky spur and its rocks which were sculpted by the sea. Here, at the far end of the island, the Atlantic ocean drives its waves to attack the land in a wild landscape which is can only remind you of Normandy or Brittany. A lovely cove of white sand is inviting you to sit and contemplate this fascinating sight. Swimming is forbidden because of the height of the waves and the strong currents which pull you to the open sea.
To the left side, bordering the old salines, a romantic and wild beach deploys its long stretch of white sand. On the right, the Pointe des Colibris at the top of which stands a gigantic cross, offers an exceptional 360° view over the whole of Guadeloupe and its surroundings. An orientation table will help identify the surrounding islands.
Open to the sea, Saint François is particularly popular with sport enthusiasts. Deep sea divers will appreciate the various spots, whether in the lagoon or in the open sea or the high land. During the Alizés period, the triangular sails of the windsurfs color the lagoon and sink into the channel to jump and surf the waves. Finally, with one front facing the Atlantic and the other facing the Caribbean sea, at la Barque, in the old port, at Anse à la Gourde or another secret spot that only the experienced know of, there is always a wave somewhere to please the surfers.