Deshaies: A Taste of Guadeloupe

Bay of Deshaies, Guadeloupe

You guys, I have colours for you today. Heaps of colours! The colours of the Guadeloupe islands. Of Deshaies, specifically, a village on the northwest corner of the main island Basse Terre. The butterfly-shaped one. I spent most of my time on Guadeloupe ambling along the beach and idly sauntering around the little village by the bay, enjoying the kaleidoscope of hues. Ease is the name of the game here.

Here is a little photo essay to entice you to stop by when you’re in the neighbourhood. I will also tell you how Guadeloupe is preparing for the possibility of natural disasters, and then there is Death in Paradise. Scroll on!

Deshaies, Guadeloupe
Deshaies, Guadeloupe

The colours of Deshaies

Deshaies, Guadeloupe
Deshaies, Guadeloupe

Cannot help but be cheerful in these surroundings, can you…

Deshaies, Guadeloupe

Crumbling? Charming? Both!

Tsunami ahead? Follow the tsunami route.

A natural disaster is an all-to-realistic risk in this region. Over the last 500 years, the Caribbean has experienced 75 tsunamis.

And whilst Guadeloupe has not had a volcanic eruption in centuries, it doesn’t mean the islands are safe. There are 21 active volcanoes in the Lesser Antilles. And, as if that isn’t enough, there are submarine volcanoes as well, including the interestingly named Kick’em Jenny near the Grenadines.

Just north of Guadaloupe, on neighbouring Montserrat, the volcano Soufrière Hills has been active since 1995. The southern neighbour, Dominica, has 9 live volcanoes! A little further south, Mont Pelée on the island of Martinique has been on yellow alert since 2020. With neighbours like that, it is best to be ready. And Guadeloupe is ready.

The tsunami evacuation route in Deshaies is easy to spot, with signs all about the place. Visible, yet not intrusive. You cannot miss them.

Deshaies, Guadeloupe - tsunami route
Deshaies, Guadeloupe - tsunami route
Deshaies, Guadeloupe - tsunami route
Deshaies, Guadeloupe - tsunami route
Deshaies, Guadeloupe - tsunami route

Starting in the centre of Deshaies, the signs show you where to go, and how far you have left before you are safe.

It is quite impressive, the elaborate preparation for possible natural disasters here in Deshaies. In addition to this clearly marked tsunami route, Guadeloupe is part of the Caribe Wave, an annual exercise simulating a geological event – typically a collapsing volcano or an earthquake – leading to a tsunami.

Alerte Tsunami! Rejoignez les hauteurs rapidement!

The broadcast is repeated in Creole and English: Tsunami alert! Get to the heights quickly!

Less chance of panic should a tsunami occur. Not only will you know where to go, but you will also have practiced. Guadeloupe seems to be ahead of the game here. A role model for low-lying islands and other vulnerable areas, it seems.

Follow the signs

As you know, we like the world’s curious spots here on Sophie’s World. And the tsunami safe spot in a little village on Guadeloupe, why that’s a pretty curious spot. Off I go.

The path leads through the aptly named Rue de la Vague Bleu (Blue Wave Street) along Deshaies Bay, up a steep hill with a green stairway along the side, past the cemetery, and ending on top of the hill, where there is a school and a sports field. From there, if you venture across a small bridge, you are at the entrance to the forest. The Littoral de Deshaies will take you to the top of Gros Morne hill along an old colonial path. An easy hike – and historic, too. About 5k, 2 hours.

Deshaies, Guadeloupe
Deshaies, Guadeloupe

Cannot stop now, can I…

Death in Paradise

Have you seen it? The British-French series about quintessentially English detectives coming in from the Metropolitan Police in London, one after the other, to solve crimes on the Caribbean island of Saint Marie, one of the last BOTs (British Overseas Territories) remaining?

Catherine's Bar, Honoré, Saint Marie, aka Deshaies, Guadeloupe
Deshaies, Guadeloupe

What? So is this Saint Marie, then?

Well, Saint Marie is fictitious. But otherwise, yes. We are indeed in Saint Marie. The filming location, at least. And Deshaies is Honoré.

You can take a Death in Paradise tour, showing you around the locations. I decide to search them out on my own instead, and find Catherine’s Bar, or Le Madras, as it is called IRL. It was closed when I stopped by, so no sundowners with imaginary cops in this tropical locale. However, cheerful beachside bars abound, so no worries…

I also find Honoré Police Station.

Honoré Police Station, Honoré, Saint Marie, aka Deshaies, Guadeloupe

Can you picture Jack, Florence, Fidel, JP and the rest of the gang on the balcony here?

Inside is a museum (entrance fee €10 as at March 2023), where you can sit at their desks and buy merch in the little shop.

But it’s the seductive Guadeloupe nature, the endless beaches and the turquoise Caribbean that play the lead.

Beach bar in Deshaies, Guadeloupe

Deshaies waterfront in the noonday sun

Bay of Deshaies Guadeloupe