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Coastline view of Terre de Haut Island, Guadeloupe

Terre-de-Haut, Iles des Saintes, Guadeloupe

Only 15 kilometers (nine miles) separate Guadeloupe from Terre-de-Haut, the major island of the Les Saintes archipelago, but the two can feel worlds apart. While much of Guadeloupe is green and lush, Terre-de-Haut is dry and scrubby. The former had a plantation economy for a long time, and many of its residents are descended from African slaves. Residents of Terre-de-Haut have traditionally made their livelihoods from fishing, and they trace their roots back to Brittany and Normandy in France. More than 400,000 people live on Guadeloupe, fewer than 2,000 on Terre-de-Haut. What the two islands share in common, however, is a decidedly French take on island life. On Terre-de-Haut, this translates into a certain relaxed joie de vivre. Meals of grilled fish are paired with cold rosé and views of the pretty harbor. There are no malls, no mega-resorts and, with only a few cars on the island, no traffic jams. Your activity for the day will most likely consist of walking to the hilltop fort or one of its beaches, or perhaps practicing your French in the handful of stores and cafés in town. If you have long intended to slow down and learn to savor the moment, this is the island on which to work toward that goal.