St Martin – The Quiet Side

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French St Martin stands out as the polar opposite of Dutch St Maarten on their shared tiny landstrips. French indifference overcomes the lack of any border restriction. Crossing from vice tourism in St Maarten it is striking to arrive in a bustling French overseas collectivity. Like other collectivities and overseas departments I have visited, it is French all the way and the tourism is mostly inward-looking to the French-speaking market.

St Martin 02

The French flag flies atop Fort Louis

In this series:

St Martin 01

Bustling yet sedate Marigot

Tourism is small-scale and low-key in St Martin. The cruise ship terminal, main airport and the big resorts are all down in St Maarten so the feeling is of a regular French town in a tropical setting. Those off a cruise ship for a day would do well to take the 15-20 minute taxi up to Marigot. It is more urban than island paradise so a visit is for strolling, eating and shopping, at, admittedly, higher prices than St Maarten. It is also the departure point for regular ferries to Anguilla.

St Martin 04

A church in Marigot

Compared to French St. Barth’s, which requires investment in a ferry or shot-hop flight from St Maarten, St Martin gives a taste of France but not as much of island retreat flavor.

St Martin 03

No one has gotten around to removing this rusted hulk

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TimVideo: St Maarten Airport Golf Cart Tarmac Transfer - Rapid Travel ChaiSt Kitts – Plantation Splurge and Mega Fortress - Rapid Travel ChaiAnguilla – Discretion Island - Rapid Travel ChaiSt Barth’s – Gorgeous People, Pricey Hamburgers - Rapid Travel Chai Recent comment authors

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Tim
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Tim

St Maarten a total shithole compared to St Barth’s. Crime is high in St Maarten, gotta watch your surroundings….. This is not the case in St Barth’s. Up to you if you want safe & secure or cheap & looking over your shoulder

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Marshall Jackson
Guest

Agreed. Totally different vibe, and a nice change of pace.

enthusiast
Guest
enthusiast

There’s no border crossing checkpoint/protection at all. You just drive over and see a sign. Phone/service is different on the two sides, as is the currency. USD is commonly used in St. Maarten, and Euros are commonly used in St. Martin.

You can bus from Philipsburg to Marigot for $2 USD. Just look for the mini buses with the destination on the windshield.

Rapid Travel Chai
Guest

@enthusiast – thanks for the info, I liked those buses and I wish they also ran from the airport but I never saw any there except the Philipsburg ones.

Nybanker
Guest
Nybanker

Is the border treated like other intra-EU borders?

Rapid Travel Chai
Guest

@Nybanker – yes, the only way to notice is the “welcome to” signs and the change of tone, it is free movement and no immigration or even anything like a checkpoint.

The Weekly Flyer
Guest

Totally agree. We once took the public ferry from Anguilla to the French side and were pleasantly surprised by the French side of the island.

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