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Update on St. Martin situation following demonstrations

24 Dec 2019

Following a few days of civil unrest on the French side of St. Martin, where the entire half of the island was closed off, we have an update on the situation there now.

Following "a series of civil demonstrations that began on December 12, 2019," the St. Martin Tourist office issued a statement on the current situation.

Dated December 23, the statement starts off with good news that, "much of St. Martin has returned to normal". The statement goes on to say, "shops and restaurants in Marigot, Grand Case and Orient Bay are open and operational as well as the main tourist attractions."

"St. Martin Hotels, guesthouses and villas are open with ease of arrivals and departures."

"The Grand Case airport, The Marigot Port and Ferry Terminal as well as Marina Fort Louis are operating as usual."

The Tourist Office did noe that there may still be debris left from roadblocks, particularly in the Sandy Ground and French Quarter areas.  But they reiterated that all roadblocks have been lifted and visitors can come and go once again.

Restaurant Review: La Sucrière in Marigot, St. Martin

14 Jul 2016

Royal Caribbean cruises that stop in the island paradise of St. Maarten/St. Martin will often find guests heading over to the French side of the island to enjoy the many terrific activities, and certainly French cuisine has to be at the top of that list.

Those that want to enjoy an authentic French cafe experience, will absolutely love a stop at La Sucrière in the French capital of Marigot for the fresh foods, cafe atmosphere and little taste of France in the Caribbean.


Across the street from the ocean are a great many restaurants, including the La Sucrière bakery.

Before you even set foot in this boulangerie, you will have a great view of the harbor in Marigot, with its many yachts and sail boats anchored just off shore.

La Sucrière is set up like an open-air cafe, with plenty of seating underneath a roof that has no walls.  Like many French cafes, dining at La Sucrière is as much about enjoying the ambiance and weather around you, as the food itself.

Inside the bakery is a semi-circle shaped large room with plenty of freshly baked good to consider.  The area is lined with fresh breads, pastries, sandwiches and beverages.

The staff speak French and English, and nearly everything available was made fresh earlier in the day.  In fact, the smells alone as you walk in are worth the visit.


You will find a fairly wide selection of baked good to purchase at La Sucrière.  The French bakery advertises itself as a boulangerie and patisserie, which means it is a bakery and pastry shop.

Frankly, there is a lot of great choices and we quickly found ourselves in danger of over-ordering because everything looked so good.  You should definitely skip eating on your cruise ship prior to visiting this bakery.

La Sucrière features freshly baked breads, French open-faced sandwiches (known as tartines), quiches, cakes, fruits and more.  

If there is one thing missing, it would be cheeses.  Some of the sandwiches have cheese with them, but if you want to enjoy bread with your favorite kind of cheese, you should consider stopping elsewhere prior to eating here so you can combine it.  

The food can be enjoyed at the cafe or wrapped up for a meal later.  Certainly if you are planning on spending time elsewhere on the island, taking some of the amazing food with you is not a bad option.

In terms of the food, it certainly is fresh and sweet.  French breads, like baguettes and croissants, are always good choices and the fact they are baked on the premises really makes it taste better.


La Sucrière was a highlight of our stop to Marigot, because of the quality of the food offered here.  Part of the appeal of visiting ports of call on a Royal Caribbean cruise is the opportunity to sample the local cuisine, and La Sucrière is a fantastic example of French baking.

The combination of atmosphere, freshly baked goods (the smells!) and views from the cafe seating area made this a great meal.  There is some great shopping just steps away, so there are some nice activities to do before or after your meal here.

If you are going to visit the French side of St. Martin/St. Maarten, you ought to stop in at La Sucrière for a bite to eat.

Location: Front de Mer, Marigot 97150, St. Maarten-St. Martin

Excursion Focus: Le Galion Beach in St. Martin

09 Jun 2016

The hurricanes of 2017 damaged the beach. We do not recommend going here until it is rebuilt.

Picking the right shore excursion for families is always a challenge because depending on the age of your kids, what is appealing to one family might be completely uninteresting to another family.  When you have young kids, the choices become even more complicated.

Just over the French side of St. Martin is a small beach that offers the perfect kind of beach day for young children or anyone that enjoys going to the beach without waves.


The appeal of Le Galion beach is a horseshoe shaped beach that has little to no waves, which makes it perfect for kids that cannot swim or are not strong swimmers. 

The beach is a short drive from where Royal Caribbean docks its cruise ships and just over the French side of the border.  Upon arrival, there is a large cove surrounded by a beach that provides easy access to the water.

There is no cost to access the beach, but there are charges to use the chairs and/or umbrellas (5 Euros for either).  The beach is frequented by tourists and locals alike, with locals usually setting up further down the beach where they can just put out a beach blanket.

The chairs and umbrellas are provided by the nearby bar and restaurant, which offers waiter service and has a full bar menu, as well as a good-sized lunch menu.  

Over the years, the amenities and offerings at Le Galion beach have been improved and there are diving platforms (complimentary), kayaking, paddle boarding, jet skis and more available for hourly charges.


Le Galion is a quiet family beach that is great for non-swimmers and kids to have a relaxing day.  The beach is a shallow lagoon, and adults can walk out many dozens of yards from shore and not have the water go past their waist.  

Le Galion also tends not to get as crowded as some other beaches frequented by cruise guests.  It is a laid back beach experience that offers just enough for kids to do, without relying on a ton of water toys that can turn the ocean into a virtual playground.

We have brought our children to Le Galion for years because the beach experience is perfect for kids that just want to splash around without fear of getting knocked over by waves or suddenly finding them in deeper water than before.

The cost to use the beach chairs and umbrellas is fair and waiter service that brings drinks and food is pretty good.  There is nothing else around, so you are dependent on the beach bar for food and drink, but their prices are fair for the French side of the island and the staff speak English and French fluently.

If you want a quiet, relaxing beach that has little-to-no waves, then Le Galion beach is perfect for you.

Excursion Focus: Bikini Beach in St. Martin

08 Oct 2013

If you think the perfect Caribbean beach is somewhere with crystal clear water that has beautiful color and delicious mixed cocktails, then we have the spot for you.  Located on the French side of St. Martin as part of the larger Orient Beach region, Bikini Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean and a great place to spend a day.


Bikini Beach is part of Orient Beach on the French side of St. Martin (St. Maarten).  Orient Beach is known for being quite beautiful and the Bikini Beach operation offers services that are sure to make your time at the beach as relaxing as possible.

Getting to Bikini Beach from your cruise ship will require a taxi/car ride of about 20-30 minutes.  Like all beaches on St. Martin/St. Maarten, admission to the beach is free but use of the services does cost extra.  Four chairs and 2 umbrellas will run $20, which is a fair price in the Caribbean.  In addition, bar and restaurant service is available either by waiter to your beach chair or you can walk to the bar area and enjoy lunch there.

By far the reason to visit Bikin Beach is the beautiful beach.  The water color is the sort of thing you see in postcards and the water is amazingly clear.  Orient Beach is such a large beach that there's a number of other operations set up on the beach similar to Bikini Beach, but the size of the area helps keep crowds manageable.

For an additional cost, there are some water toys you may get access to.  During our visit, for $10 per person, you could use the trampoline, log and water obstacle.  The beach also partners with locals who can provide other services such as jet skiing, parasailing and massages for an additional cost as well.

Like many beaches in the Caribbean, locals will walk up and down the beach offering services and goods for sale.  A simple no is usually enough to send them on their way to the next guest.


There's no question that the ocean here is the main attraction and the color and vividness of the water really made this one of the most beautiful beaches I've ever been to.  If you want a beach with some of the best looking water you've ever seen, this is the beach for you.  The sand is also really soft and no rocks or shells to really speak of (at least none that you can feel while walking).  Once in the water, the bottom is sandy and free of rocks for the most part so no water shoes required.

While the beach is great, the icing on the cake is the service provided by the Bikini Beach staff.  There's wait staff that will deliver any food and drink you need to right to your beach chair.  Prices for the food and drink are about what you might pay at an average restaurant in the United States, so it isn't a tremendous value but when you're on vacation at a beautiful beach, it just feels nice to have someone bring you drinks without having to get up.  The wait staff was also attentive and we never had to play "where did the waiter go" game.

The bar also has more formal tables that are covered to sit at if you prefer to get away from the water while you have a snack or drink. The staff claims there is a WiFi signal that guests can access but you essentially have to walk into the parking lot to access it and I was never able to actually connect.  The staff also natively speaks French but their English is more than adequate.

We happened to visit Bikini Beach during the off season but Orient Beach in general can get full during the busier months of the year.  Make sure you get off your Royal Caribbean cruise early and go directly to the beach for the best availability.  

Because Bikini Beach is on the French side of St. Martin, topless sunbathing is possible so it's something to consider if that sort of thing bothers you.

Overall, Bikini Beach is a wonderful choice for anyone that wants beautiful water, a great beach and bar/restaurant service on top of it.  The level of service was terrific and it's hard to beat the view.

Address: Orient Bay, St Martin

Cost: Beach admission free; Use of chairs and umbrellas additional cost.

Excursion Focus: Le Galion Beach

07 Mar 2013

The hurricanes of 2017 damaged the beach. We do not recommend going here until it is rebuilt.

The island of St. Martin is known for its beautiful beaches but one of its lesser known beaches is a great choice if you're looking for a very calm ocean experience that is perfect for young children. On our recent cruise to the Eastern Caribbean, we tried Le Galion beach on the French side of St. Martin.


Le Galion beach is a small cove that has a reef/sandbar that breaks any waves well off shore so it's basically a beach that is more like a pond. In addition, the depth of the water barely exceeds a foot or so for a good few yards.  All of this makes for perfect conditions for young children who want to be in the water but cannot swim or are not strong swimmers.

The beach is horseshoe shaped and is free to access, although if you want to use the chairs and/or umbrellas that are set up, it will cost a small fee (2 chairs and an umbrella cost $15).  One half of the beach has soft white sand while the other half has rocks and coral for those that want to do a little snorkeling.  The water tends to be very clear and it's just the perfect environment for kids to play in.  It's also serene enough for adults to enjoy for the quiet ambiance that a beach like this provides.

There's a small restaurant and bar on one end of the beach that has your basic beach bar food as well as a full array of drinks.  There is no waiter service but the beach is small enough that walking to it is not a problem.  Le Galion tends not to be as crowded as other beaches so that usually means no vendors walking up and down the beach trying to sell stuff to you.


Le Galion beach is perfect for families who have kids that want to play in the water but most beaches have too rough a surf for it to be safe.  Our two year old who cannot swim had no problem playing in the first few feet of water, that barely went up to her thighs when standing up.  

For adults, le Galion is great if you just want a no-frills, calm beach experience.  We saw plenty of adults without kids enjoying the beach on their own.  Given the relative lack of surf, this is not a beach that you will find lots to do in the water but there are 2 floating docks that anyone can swim to.  The first dock is relatively close to shore and a good option for kids but the other dock is further out and best suited for adults.  Otherwise, there are no other water toys available. 

What I love about le Galion is how simple and serene everything is.  For my daughter, it was heaven because of the no waves.  For the adults, we enjoyed sitting on our chairs and enjoying a few adult beverages while taking everything in.  The restaurant/bar is somewhat expensive, depending on what you order.  Drinks are average in price, although it's still cheaper to drink here than your cruise ship.

I do need to mention le Galion is a clothing optional beach, and on our visit we did see about 4 women bathing topless.  During our time, the sunbathers kept to one side of the beach while the families seemed to be on the other.  It was not a big deal for us and unless you're looking for it, the nudity is easy to miss.  

Location: e Galion Beach Rd., Quartier D'Orleans, St-Martin / St Maarten

Cost: Beach access is free. Chairs and umbrellas available for rent.

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