Basse-Terre, Guadaloupe

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The outline on a map of the French Caribbean island Guadeloupe is often compared to a butterfly. Its eastern half, Grande-Terre, is home to most of the island’s resorts, which are strung along its southern coast. At the point where the two “wings” meet is Guadeloupe’s largest city, Pointe-à-Pitre. Basse-Terre is the more untamed wing that forms the western half of the island, a mountainous area that’s home to the Parc National de Guadeloupe as well as La Grande Soufrière. This active volcano is the tallest peak in the Lesser Antilles, the string of islands that form the eastern boundary of the Caribbean Sea, where it meets the Atlantic.The city of Basse-Terre, at the southwestern corner of Guadeloupe, is the island’s capital, with a history that’s more than a century longer than that of Pointe-à-Pitre. (The French first arrived here in 1635, while the island’s largest city wasn’t developed until the 1760s.) A number of historic buildings, most notably the 17th-century Fort Delgrès, can be found here, though for travelers today it is perhaps best known as a jumping-off point to nearby destinations. The peak of Soufrière creates a dramatic backdrop as ferries depart regularly for the archipelago of Les Saintes.
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