Sea, Sand and Freedom — Our Escape to St. Barths, Part II

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Salt Ponds at Saline.

We also visited Saline, probably the most well known beach on the island. Behind the dunes and the beach is a massive salt pond. Salt was harvested here until the early ‘7os.

Saline is a very long beach. It was calm as the winds again were blowing from the other side of the island. Nude sunbathing is not frowned upon here, and a stroll up the beach can provide some interesting views.

Footprints on the East Side of Saline.
Footprints on the east side of Saline.
Looking West on Saline.
Looking West on Saline.

The beach has a large dune behind it. The dune was also damaged by Irma, and the Collective is working hard to build them back up and protect them. In the distance you can see the islands of Saba and Nevis.

This Plateau Went Quickly.
This plateau went quickly.

A nice lunch can also be found at Shellona on Shell beach. Loungers are available on the beach below, and lunch is also served.

The Harbour at Gustavia
The harbor at Gustavia.

We parked on the harbor in Gustavia, as Shellona charges 20 euros to valet park a car. Plus it’s only a short walk from here. Mid-size yachts stand in a row on Rue Bord de la Mer.

The New Chez Ginette
The new Chez Ginette.

Chez Ginette was an island institution located in Anse de Cayes since 1972. It was a bar/cafe in a hidden part of the island that drew locals and French celebrities. Ginette served the best rum punch in the Caribbean. We had been absent from St. Barths for some years and when we returned a few years ago we couldn’t find it. It had burnt down. I heard a rumor it was back.

Gigi and Some of the 120 Flavors of Rum.
Gigi and Some of the 120 flavors of rum.

And it was! What a nice surprise! Ginette’s daughter Gigi was in a new space in Corossol surrounded by photo collages of all her mother’s favorite and famous guests. We were greeted with more than 120 varieties of rum with aromas of fruits, flowers, and spices (the small bottles are decorated with fabric tops).

The Photos Continue
The photos continue.

Large or small, you can order the punches for delivery from Gigi’s website, here.

Hermes, Please.
Hermes, please.

There are so many boutiques on the island now. I did stop into Hermes to try and find something I could not find in New York. Other shoppers had put their bags on the buttery leather chairs, so Aggie couldn’t try them out. Vuitton, Dolce Gabbana, Ralph Lauren, Bulgari, Cartier, Prada and scads of smaller brands line the street. It is a shoppers’ heaven.

Hermes, Le Carre d’Or, Gustavia

Clic Offers Art and Clothing.
Clic offers art and clothing.

Clic is an art gallery with a dollop of clothing (there is also a Clic in Nolita in NY). The gallery belongs to Christiane Celle, who started the original Calypso St. Barths many years ago.

Clic, rue de la Republique, Gustavia

The Original, Le Select.
The original, Le Select.

While shopping on our way to meet friends for a drink, we passed by the legendary Le Select, a meeting place for locals on Friday night. Le Select is where Jimmy Buffet met his cheeseburger in paradise.

Inside Montaigne Market
Inside Montaigne Market.

Montaigne Market is a very chic branch of the Avenue Montaigne boutique. Haute beachwear (day to night) at its best.

Montaigne Market 4, rue General de Gaulle, Gustavia

One of the Laurent Effel Boutiques.
One of the Laurent Effel boutiques.

Laurent Effel has three boutiques in Gustavia. One has men’s clothing, shoes and belts; one has women’s shoes and this location offers bags exclusively. They have recently gone beyond leather and added shoes and bags in crocodile, alligator, and ostrich. All of it is easy to wear and well made.

Laurent Effel, rue du General De Gaulle, Gustavia

Inside Vara.
Inside Varda.

Varda is a moody store filled with lots of interesting things. The space is owned by Djordje Varda,  who is also the creator of all the flower arrangements at the Crillon Hotel in Paris. Not surprisingly, he has a variety of beautiful flowers in the shop. The books are designed by Christian LaCroix. Browsing here is pure fun.

Varda, rue de General De Gaulle, Gustavia

Victoria on The Harbor.
Victoria on the harbor.

Victoria is a bar restaurant and the end of the rue du General de Gaulle, at the end of the Gustavia harbor. Our friends who live here say it is not unusual for people to trip on the pavement and end up in the harbor! It is a pretty place to have a drink and a casual dinner.

On the Water at Maya's.
On the water at Maya’s.

We then headed to one of our favorite restaurants on the island, Maya’s. Owned by Randy and Maya Gurley, it is a longstanding favorite. Maya oversees the kitchen and turns out dinners that are simple perfection. Located in Public, on the water, you can look out at the huge yachts moored outside the harbor while you dine. Chances are some of the passengers might be in the restaurant, too.

A Morning Rainbow Over Mont Jean
A morning rainbow over Mont Jean.

We woke up the next morning to light showers and a fantastic rainbow. The day brought clouds, then sun, then clouds. Rain in St. Barths can be odd. When it is partly cloudy, a small cloud can be dropping rain on the other side of the island and it will be sunny overhead. This was one of those days.

Heading to St. Jean
Heading to St. Jean and Gustavia.

An hour later the sky was sunny as we drove to Gustavia.

The Line for Testing
The line for testing.

It was Saturday; and we were leaving the island on Monday. We had to get a 72-hour Covid test. There is one clinic on the island on the point in Gustavia where you can make an appointment or just line up. We got a PCR test and our test results were emailed to us the next day. Quick, clean, and easy.

A View From the End of La Pointe.
A view from the end of La Pointe.

We had never walked around La Pointe before. It is beautiful. At Christmas time, this is where the mega yachts all park. There were a few around the corner. Big clouds on the left looked a bit menacing.

Some of the Boats are Decorated for the Holidays.
Some of the boats are decorated for the holidays.

We had to go pick up some groceries and walked by the “smaller” yachts in town. Some of them are decorated for the holidays.

A Quick Deluge With Blue Skies
A quick deluge with blue skies.

As we came out of the grocery store, a small cloud overhead dumped buckets of rain for about five minutes.

Anse de Flamands on a Calm Day
Anse de Flamands on a calm day.

The next day we went to Flamands, another favorite beach. Earlier in the trip the waves had been very tall as the winds were whipping them up. The winds changed direction and the beach calmed down for our visit.

Guahnahani Under Construction
Le Guanahani under construction.

Later that afternoon we went to one of our other favorite beaches, which was a short walk from our villa. You have to go through Le Guanahani hotel to get to the beach. The hotel is under construction from the damage done by the hurricane. There is parking for beach goers as all beaches in France are public.

The Rothschild Estate.
The Rothschild estate.

You have to descend a steep staircase down to the beach, but you get to take a look at the estate that Benjamin Rothschild built back in the ’60s. Our friends on the island are not quite sure who owns it now, but it is beautiful from above.

Anse de Marechal in The Afternoon
Anse de Marechal in the afternoon.

The Anse de Marechal is small but beautiful. And never crowded. The wall at the right is part of the Rothschild estate. Years ago, there was no wall. If you go to the end of Marechal you can walk around the point to the Anse de Grand Cul de Sac.

Aux Revoir St Bath and Saint Jean.
Aux Revoir St. Barths and Saint Jean.

It was time to go home. We had a last lunch at Eden Rock. Aggie did not want to go. We promised her she would be back.

Click here for Part I of Our Escape to St. Barths

Barbara Hodes is the owner of NYC Private Shopping Tour, offering customized tours in New York and Brooklyn. 

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