WHY WE LOVE IT
- A mere eight square miles (with just 8,500 residents) awash in beautiful people and stunning small hotels and villas—making Saint Barthélemy (a.k.a. St. Barth, St. Barths, St. Barts and SBH) la plûs sexy of all the Caribbean islands.
- The highest-quality restaurants (more than 80!) and shops in the Caribbean—expect your plastic to get a workout.
- The waterfront capital, Gustavia, a study in chichi-cute.
- The gorgeous beaches, most of them topless (this being a laissez-faire French isle) and some bottomless too. No pressure, though!
- Superbe windsurfing, sailing, fishing and people-watching/yacht-spotting.
WHEN TO GO
High season begins in December (which is especially busy) and extends through April; rates go up accordingly. It’s quietest and least expensive in July and August. Low season, though, means more rain and the chance of hurricanes, as well as the closure of some restaurants and businesses (sometimes even hotels) for several months.
WHAT TO PACK
Bathing suits, polarized sunglasses, sunblock, camera, U.S. passport, binoculars (for birding). Generally, for all its chicness, St. Bart’s has a very unbuttoned style. Nonetheless, bring "smart casual" clothing for evenings; a handful of the fancier restaurants request that men wear long pants and, occasionally, jackets at dinner.
WHAT TO BUY
Designer clothes, lingerie, swimwear, sandals; rhum vanille (vanilla rum); Ligne St. Barth scents and lotions; duty-free French wines; lantana straw baskets.
GETTING MARRIED ON ST. BART’S
It’s a tough job, but at least one of you has to do it—that is, live on the island for not less than a month and 10 days before the wedding. You’ll need to present your passports; official birth-certificate copies dated at least three months before the wedding; and certificates attesting that you’re single, divorced or widowed, also notarized at least three months ahead. All these documents need to be translated into French by a certified translator. For more information, contact the on-island tourism office (see below) or the Gustavia town hall’s Registration Office (590-590-29-80-43). To arrange ceremonies at the Catholic churches in Gustavia or Lorient, call 590-590-27-95-38. For the Gustavia Anglican church, call 590-590-27-89-44.
Start by logging on at st-barth.info. By phone or in person, you can inquire at France on Call (514-288-1904) or the French Government Tourist Office/Maison de France (franceguide.com), with offices in New York (825 Third Ave., 29th floor; 212-838-7800) and Los Angeles (9454 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 210; 310-271-6665), which can provide free maps and brochures. You can also contact the on-island Office du Tourisme de St-Barthélemy (590-590-27-87-27 from outside the island; firstname.lastname@example.org). Other helpful Web sites include allostbarths.com, gotostbarths.com, sbhonline.com, saint-barths.com and stbarthweekly.com.
LA CASE DE L’ISLE
Hotel Saint-Barth Isle de France
Baie des Flamands
During the day at this sleek, family-owned inn on the northwestern coast (see Sleep), you’ll want to nab a canvas director’s chair overlooking the Baie des Flamands. Come evening, the beachside deck, with armchairs, tablecloths and the floodlit waters below, serves as a très romantique backdrop to dinner. La cuisine? Mostly classic French (duck confit, terrine de foie gras) but leavened with un po’ Italian (gnocchi with cured Parma prosciutto in a mushroom sauce), a nip of North African (rack of lamb with dates, prunes and couscous) and, of course, a soupçon of Caribbean (mahimahi en papillote with wine and citrus sauce). Keep in mind that it’s closed in September and half of October.
Hôtel le Toiny
Anse de Toiny
Does Le Toiny’s tony open-air dining room, with its white-cushioned banquettes and panoramic bay views, deserve its rep? Certainly the portions are small and the checks are large—but then again, anyone who’s dined at one of the mother country’s temples of gastronomy shouldn’t be fazed. (The hair-raising drive to get here, though, is another story.) At this major restaurant named after an iconic local tree, Stéphane Mazières of course serves French classics (duck foie gras; veal chops with black truffles and artichokes), along with more creative bits of kitchen wizardry, such as eggshells filled with egg yolks, whites, bacon mousse and black truffle. Then there’s the occasional Asian touch (rack of lamb with shredded coconut and exotic spices). Add superb service and a 300-label wine list and this is one tree you might want to climb.
THE HIDEAWAY, CHEZ ANDY
If you’re convinced that all popular restaurants on this island are impossibly pricey, this place will happily prove you wrong. And how could anyone resist Brit comedian-manqué Andy Hall’s pledge of "corked wine, warm beer, lousy food, view of the car park"? Everyone on the island sooner or later makes it to this bamboo-sided barefoot joint with plastic chairs and tables, drawn by its great thin-crust wood-oven pizza, pastas and a good variety of main dishes both plain and somewhat fancy. And you get to end your lunch or dinner with a famous bottomless carafe of rhum vanille—vanilla rum.
Right next to La Banane hotel (see Sleep) stands this chic African-tiki hideout named after Kenya’s Masai tribe. It’s a woody sponge-painted room with modern and tribal art on the walls, and it’s been a prime see-and-be-seen scene since it opened in 2003. While the mostly Provençal fare (rack of lamb, foie gras–stuffed roast pigeon) may seems a little out of context amid all this exoticism, the incongruity only heightens the hip postmod vibe. Order à la carte or from a set menu, and don’t forget the vanilla rum at the end. It’s open for dinner only, and there’s a buzzy post-dinner lounge scene too.
What a karmically cool—not to mention romantic—perch. This covered deck with richly worked tables and chairs has gorgeous, sweeping views over Gustavia and the sea, especially at sunset. It’s just the spot if you’re a fan of light, stylishly executed Pacific Rim modern or simply want a change of pace from French, creole or beach-bar fare. Apart from the excellent sushi bar, the influences lean toward Thai, with subtle hints from the New World surfacing in the likes of the coconut-milk wahoo ceviche with mango and coriander. It’s closed in September and October.
One of the island’s earliest gastronomic successes remains a perennial best bet, thanks to the changing menu of fresh, uncomplicated cooking by Martinique-born and Guadeloupe-raised Maya Gurley. She runs the place with her husband, Randy (you know, darling, of the Nantucket Gurleys). In an unremarkable house located on a sweet spot at the edge of Gustavia, the place is a top haunt of St. Bart’s regulars, famous ones included. Come for cocktails at sunset. Stay for a dinner of veal chops, curry shrimp and so forth. And save room for the gâteau à l’orange (West Indian orange cake). It’s closed Sundays.
Tom Beach Hotel
Thierry de Badereau is master of the scene at his hip little hotel’s colorful, Moroccan-style beach resto. It has tables out on the sand and a casual, seasonally changing menu heavy on fresh seafood, both grilled and otherwise. (The gingered wahoo tartare is a standout). By day it’s all about lazy lunches, but evenings can get raucous, especially on theme nights. At other times you’ll find DJs, live bands, Sunday-night barbecues. The service is good and the vibe surprisingly unpretentious—just be sure you’re in the mood for letting loose rather than quiet canoodling.
LA ROUTE DES BOUCANIERS
Rue de Bord de Mer at Rue du Centenaire
Modern-day pirates and other seagoing types can steer their boats right up to "Buccaneers’ Road," the blue-and-yellow Gustavia wharfside spot owned by chef Francis Delage and his wife, Christiane. With its blue-and-white shutters, bare wooden tables and stone floor, the joint has a very unpretentious West Indian feel a notch up from a beach shack. (Check out the weathered boat turned bar.) But Delage knows what he’s doing—he’s run restaurants in Paris and Guadeloupe, hosted a French TV show on creole cookery and even written the bible on the subject, the six-volume encyclopedia Les Délices de la Cuisine Créole. The menu changes regularly, but it could include lobster roasted in passion-fruit butter, smoked chicken salad or a creole platter with cod fritters, blood sausage (an acquired taste), conch gratin, stuffed crab and more.
The classy dining room of the François Plantation inn out west (see Sleep) has a gracious updated-colonial look: mahogany armchairs, white bead-board cathedral ceilings, fine linens, Hermès dishes—and open sides. Its Breton chef, Pierre Gagnaire alum Jean-Denis Le Bras, puts out a modern European menu that’s smallish but superbly executed. It also has some nice surprises for vegetarians (like white-truffle risotto). Some of the desserts get pretty creative too—how about a lemon sponge cake with cucumber mojito? A 500-label wine list specializing in organic French vintages caps an elegant experience. One hitch: It’s closed mid-April through mid-November.
WALL HOUSE RESTAURANT
Wall House Quai
Chef Franck Mathevet and partner Denis Chevalier’s place, next to the town hall, has been one of the better values on the island since it opened in 2000—not just for the reasonable à la carte prices but also for the nightly 29-euro prix-fixe menu. It’s an upbeat, white-hued indoor-outdoor restaurant with a seafood bent, consistently high quality and handsome harbor views. Nab a table on the terrace at sunset for Mathevet’s mix of classic French (entrecôte with Bordeaux wine sauce) with touches of Italian (pesto gnocchi) and island creole (catch of the day in rouille antillaise, lime and ginger mousseline sauce). The chariot des desserts is a chariot of the gods. The restaurant is closed June through September.
AUBERGE DE LA PETITE ANSE
Anse des Flamands
You’ll notice that pretty much everything’s expensive on St. Bart’s. If getting the most for your poor battered buck is important, consider this quiet, friendly inn in a secluded spot up on the west end’s Baie des Flamands, which gets more than a few votes as the most fabulous stretch of sand on the island. Several two-story houses perched just over the water harbor 16 air-conditioned units that are simple (phone yes, TV no) but attractive and impeccable, with kitchen facilities and nice big balconies. At 160 euros in high season, for St. Bart’s this is a steal.
Baie de Lorient
While more than a few upscale properties on St. Bart’s go for the colonial-plantation aesthetic, this Belgian-owned boutique spot opts for a look something like Euro-mod-meets-creole-pastels-meets-zen. It’s up on the north coast, and it’s got beautiful, out-of-the-way Lorient beach a short stroll away. The nine suites, all named after tropical fruits, have semi-open-air bathrooms; some have their own decks. There’s no restaurant, so the centerpiece of the place is the bridge-crossed two-level pool with a little wood-decked island crowned by a palm. There’s plenty of dining nearby, including the cool K’fé Massaï next door (see Eat).
Baie de St.Jean
Tel: 590-590-29-79-99, 877-563-7105
An iconic—even legendary—name in Caribbean resorts and a celeb magnet since the 1950s, this Relais & Châteaux stalwart sits spectacularly astride its own tiny north-shore peninsula. Since Brits David and Jane Matthews took over the Rock in 1995, they’ve given it a thorough makeover, which has once again put it in the forefront of St. Bart’s resortdom—especially since they snapped up the next-door Filao Beach Hotel and combined everything into one awesome oasis with 34 suites and villas (some with their own pool). The original house around which it all revolves has a French country feel, but most of the luxe units have a more contemporary, even sexy flair. Other amenities include spa services, a gym, a boutique that would do downtown Gustavia proud (see Shop) and a pair of (naturellement) top-notch restaurants.
There is indeed a plantation feel to this collection of a dozen cheerfully painted cottages (eight of them with panoramic sea views) nestled on a lush hillside in Colombier, on St. Bart’s west end. They’re furnished with elegant simplicity in mahogany and rattan (including four-poster beds) yet have all the mod cons. If you’re really up for a splurge, book the villa at the top of the property, with its own plunge pool. There’s a common pool too, with a panoramic view of its own, and the eponymous restaurant is one of the island’s best (see Eat). If you have to be on a beach, though, this may not be for you; the nearest one is Flamands, a five-minute drive or cab ride.
HÔTEL GUANAHANI & SPA
Anse de Grand Cul de Sac
Tel: 590-590-27-66-60, 800-216-3774
On 16 sloping acres at the end of an isolated peninsula on the northeast coast, St. Bart’s biggest hotel still qualifies as a Leading Small Hotels of the World member. (It’s also among the properties that attract more Americans.) It features a pair of beaches, plus a pair of pools, a tennis court, a gym and two restaurants. Its 68 cottages are painted electric shades of purple, leaf green and gold; the French-creole-style interiors tend toward white or pastel-painted woodiness while including opulent marble bathrooms. The terraces are pretty spacious too. If you’ve ever wanted to have a spa all to yourself, consider the suite with a private staircase that leads down to the Clarins spa, which is yours alone—albeit sans treatments—after 8 p.m.
Another fairly affordable option, yet less isolated than Auberge de la Petite Anse, is this quiet, nifty little pair of buildings up in Lorient village, across the street from the beach. Since a 2008 makeover under its new owners, Californians Dennis and Wendy Carlton, rates have gone up, but in high season outside the holidays you can still nab a double for 155 euros (about $240 at press time), which qualifies as cheap by St. Bart’s standards. And the premises are no longer blah but mod-boutique-chic, from the lushly landscaped pool area to eight rooms featuring sleek ceramic-tiled floors, white walls, glass-brick-walled bathrooms and, of course, the required mod cons (even Wi-Fi). Breakfast and an afternoon wine social are included, but there’s no restaurant (though there are plenty in the neighborhood).
HOTEL SAINT-BARTH ISLE DE FRANCE
Baie des Flamands
Tel: 590-590-27-61-81, 800-810-4691
The 13 rooms fronting the island’s best beach, on the northwest coast, are the stars at this sleek little family-owned beachfront resort. However, the 17 cottages set back in the gardens—complete with white-on-white slip-covered armchairs, marble bathrooms, TVs, A/C and terraces—are none too shabby, either. While it’s no longer the absolute dernier cri, it’s still a very chic address, and the terrace restaurant, La Case de l’Isle (see Eat), is buzzing at lunchtime and romantic at dinner. A pair of pools, a tennis court and a Moulton Brown spa round out the on-premises amenities. FYI, it’s closed in September and the first half of October.
Grand Cul de Sac
Tel: 590-590-29-83-00, 888-537-3736
Preening after its sleek, monochromatic rebirth in 2006 at the hands of Christian Liaigre, this thirtysomething classic stands on a reef-sheltered 600-foot stretch of Grand Cul de Sac beach. It now offers 37 crisp white suites with plasma-screen TVs, iPods and Porthault robes to enjoy from the comfort of your mosquito-net-swathed contemporary four-poster. Call in for room service and Ligne de St. Barth spa treatments, and maybe emerge from your cocoon occasionally to have a dip in the sea, swan around the beachfront pool, strike a pose at the hip bar or sample the tasty seafood at the open-sided Les Pêcheurs restaurant.
HÔTEL LE TOINY
Anse à Toiny
Très petite (15 villas) and très cher ($2,700-plus in season), this plantation-house-style Relais & Châteaux property stands on 37 hillside acres on St. Bart’s east end. What it delivers is style; discreet seclusion; your own terrace, kitchenette and 20-by-10-foot pool; and proximity to one of the island’s very best restaurants, Le Gaïac (see Eat). What it doesn’t have is immediate access to a beach—the nearest one is a five-minute stroll. Villa suites have white/woody decor, with colonial touches like teak cane-back armchairs and mosquito-netted four-posters. The white bathrooms are practically the size of mini-spas. If you want to nab one of these jewels in season, be sure to book months in advance.
RENT A VILLA
Follow the example of countless old island hands and book your very own villa on the beach or in the hills. The privacy is as good as it gets. The amenities are generally first-rate (pools and/or Jacuzzis, kitchens, TVs, DVD and CD players, some even with mini-spas, home theaters and such). And the rates are less heart-stopping than at full-service resorts. For example, you can get a cute hillside bungalow in the east end’s Vitet highlands with a pool overlooking Grand Cul de Sac for $1,500 a week in summer, $2,500 in high season. St. Barth Properties (800-421-3396; stbarth.com) is a top rental agency. Other sites worth checking out include frenchcaribbeanvillas.com, icietlavillas.com, Luxury Villas International (luxuryvillasintl.com) and Villa Rental by Owner (vrbo.com/vacation-rentals/caribbean/st-barthelemy).
Especially when you consider St. Bart’s petiteness, there are quite a few excellent strands to choose from—more than 16 in all. For action, amenities (including dining and some hotels) and people-watching, head for St. Jean and Grand Cul de Sac on the north coast. For a more unspoiled, castaway vibe, we recommend the south shore’s secluded Anse de Grande Saline and nearby Gouverneur, as well as Flamands (which nonetheless does have a couple of places to grab a bite) and hard-to-get-to Colombier, on the island’s northwestern tip. Finally, a note for au naturelle fans: On St. Bart’s you’ll see toplessness everywhere. Technically, total nudity isn’t allowed on the island; despite the rules, though, sun worshippers peel it off to the max at Anse de Grande Saline and Gouverneur.
SAIL AWAY, SAIL AWAY
A flotilla of floaty things waits in Gustavia harbor to ferry you around—for full-day sails in crewed yachts, glass-bottom reef-peeping, sunset cruises or even jaunts to Anguilla and St. Martin. Two of the biggest outfits are Marine Service (590-590-27-70-34), which operates a variety of vessels (catamaran, motorboat, etc.), and Yannis Marine (590-590-29-89-12; yannismarine.com), which specializes in motor yachts—small and large, fast and faster. Others include Côté Mer’s 47-foot catamaran (590-590-27-91-79; st-barths.com/cote-mer/intro_eng.html), yacht charters from Nautica FWI (590-590-27-56-50; nauticafwi.com) and the Yellow Submarine (590-590-52-40-51; yellow-submarine.fr), a fancier version of a glass-bottom boat.
DIVE, WE SAID
St. Bart’s may not be a diving-snorkeling destination quite on par with, say, Bonaire or the Caymans, but it still offers loads of submarine enchantment, with some 20 dive sites ranging from 30 to 65 feet in depth. Most of them are in a marine reserve within a half-hour cruise from Gustavia, and three are wreck dives. Top local operators include Plongée Caraïbes Catamaran (590-590-27-55-94; plongee-caraibes.com/description.htm), Splash Diving Center (590-690-56-90-24; email@example.com), St-Barth Plongée (590-690-41-96-66; st-barthplongee.fr) and West Indies Dive (590-690-59-82-14; westindiesdive.com/uk/index.htm). Most offer training; some offer and PADI certification too. For snorkelers, most of these, along with the operators in our sailing entry above, also run snorkel excursions.
Over beach, over vale—exploring St. Bart’s à cheval is an unforgettable treat. Pick up a pair of ponies at the Ranch des Flamands (590-690-39-87-01), up in the island’s northwestern hills above Anse des Flamands. (FYI, it’s a bit of a bumpy drive.) You can take lessons in the ring and/or hit the trails on guided rides, for both newbies and old horse hands, through the nearby hills. A sunset trot along isolated trails—cliché or not, what could be more romantic?
A PINCH O’ PAMPERING
Up in Grand Cul de Sac, the serene, sophisticated Guanahani Spa by Clarins (590-590-52-90-36; spaguanahani.com), which opened in 2005, is the island’s most comprehensive. It of course gives priority to guests of the resort (see Sleep), but with 5,000 square feet, eight treatment rooms and private patios for outdoor massages—not to mention a hammam and a pool—chances are they’ll be able to squeeze you in, especially if you call well in advance or log on before you arrive and reserve via e-mail. There’s a little bit of everything, but the accent is mainly Asian (shiatsu, Ayurvedic, Nuad Bo Rarn from Thailand). Two of the rooms are for couples, and there are also treatments designed especially for guys.
AN OUNCE OF HISTOIRE
There’s not a lot of sightseeing per se, but a good part of what gives Gustavia and the island villages their charm is the old houses and buildings from the French and Swedish colonial period. (Yep, from 1785 to 1878 this island was awash in Svens and Ingrids—where do you think the name "Gustavia" came from?) One of these, at La Pointe on Gustavia harbor, has been turned into the Wall House Museum (590-590-29-71-55; st-barths.com/museum/index.html), and between its old stone walls are artifacts dating back to the pre-Columbian Arawaks. In the capital you can also have a peek at the ruins of 17th-century Fort Gustave, up on the hillside with a sweeping view of town and harbor (just look for the lighthouse).
A LICK OF LIVING HISTOIRE
St. Bart’s boasts several delightful little villages, but the one that most captures the bygone feel of the old French Antilles is Corossol, a fishing settlement on the coast about a mile and a half outside Gustavia. In its colorful traditional houses live colorful traditional people—really. They still speak in the antique dialects of their immigrant ancestors from Brittany and Normandy. This is where the straw hats, baskets and bags you’ll see in shops like M’Bolo and Made in St. Barth (see Shop) come from. While you’re here, check out the amazing seashell collection at the privately run Inter-Oceans Museum (590-590-27-62-97; st-barths.com/guidepgs/interocean.html).
SELECT LE SÉLECT
Behind a picket fence in Gustavia, the ramshackle Le Sélect (Rue du Centenaire; 590-590-27-86-87) is a modest—OK, divey—outdoor bar and burger joint that’s a local institution; in 2009 it will have racked up 60 years of existence. This is the place to sit on a plastic chair and rub elbows with real locals and regulars over a Carib beer and a cheeseburger au paradis. (Jimmy Buffett lets the owner use the name of his ditty in exchange for free beer and burgers.) There’s live music some nights, and who knows, you might well spot Buffett or some other celeb. Keep in mind that it’s closed on Sundays and can get crowded with day-trippers when a cruise ship’s in.
LE COMPTOIR DU CIGARE
6 Rue du Général de Gaulle
If you’re curious as to what all the fuss is about with habanos (Cuban cigars), stop in at Robert Eden’s boutique tobacconist. It’s just off the harbor in the capital, Gustavia. You can pick up a Cohiba, Partagás, Montecristo, Punch or eight other Cuban brands. But U.S. Customs will seize them, so American citizens will want to do their puffing down here. What you can bring home are Davidoffs and other smokes from the Dominican Republic—and Dominican stogies are more highly rated than Cubans these days anyway. There’s also a fine lineup of humidors, ashtrays, matchboxes and wines.
LA CASE PIMENT VERT
You’ll need sheets, tablecloths, bath towels and such for your new household, and this sweet little shop, the "Green Pepper House," has ’em in stylish spades. Whether you’re a fan of the classic look or something a little more contemporary, owner Valérie Bataille stocks a classy selection in cotton and linen from European (of course mostly French but also Italian) manufacturers such as Elve, Descamps, Turpault and Yves Delorme. Other items include lush robes, quilts, beach towels, place settings and toiletries (including Yves Delorme from Paris and Bormes from Provence).
Rue du Général de Gaulle
Sure, practically every island boasts its own local rum. But St. Bart’s signature tipple adds a twist: vanilla bean. Rhum vanille is served in various island restaurants and sold under different names in several shops, including this Gustavia boutique, where Sandy and Christian Hauret sell their own smooth version, along with rums infused with other flavors—passion fruit, ginger, coconut and more. The bottles are works of art in themselves. They’ve also got spices, knives, bags, homemade jams and candles. (For a shop that sells nothing but vanilla rum, in various sizes and bottles, check out La Pinta, next to the Bar de l’Oubli on Rue de la République; 590-590-52-04-81.)
Rue de la République
For bling with zing, this twentysomething jewelry designer delivers plenty of wow factor in the form of gorgeously quirky and irregularly shaped rings, earrings and necklaces. Sinuous lines are a hallmark; opals and elegant pearls of various hues figure prominently in the mix. Miot also carries the very stylish watches and jewelry of France’s Mauboussin, and other select pieces from such Swiss lines as Van Der Bauwede, as well as Bellarri from the U.S. Last but not least, her 18-karat-gold medallions (eminently suitable for turning into pendants), featuring mother-of-pearl or ebony with diamonds and other precious stones, make classy—if pricey—mementos.
What better place than a French tropical isle to treat yourself to a piece or two of sensual French beachwear and lingerie (guaranteed to add extra va-va-voom to your honeymoon)? Head to the Villa Créole shopping center in St. Jean, just a mile north of Gustavia, to ogle the elegant and sometimes eye-popping sous-vêtements that can make Victoria’s Secret seem like Grandma’s attic. The lineup includes offerings from Chloé, Carine Gilson, Spain’s Andrés Sardá, Italy’s Argentovivo and Ritratti and Romania’s I.D. Sarrieri. Or why not consider one of the sleek one- and two-piece swimsuits and beach wraps to debut on the gorgeous plages of St. Bart’s?
LIGNE ST. BARTH
Manuel Canovas boutique, Rue du Bord de Mer
Route de Saline
Run by an old island family, the Brins, this pair of shops—one in the capital and one up on Anse de Lorient—sell a skin-care and fragrance line for both femmes and hommes that’s got an international following among all the right people. (You’ll also find it at other select island shops.) So what’s the big deal about its various creams, lotions, massage oils, shampoos, sunblocks, cleansers, lip balm, facial masks and scents, including perfume, men’s cologne and six varieties of eau de toilette? The reliance on Caribbean-island botanicals such as roucou (annatto), a natural protectant supplied by an Arawak Indian reservation on Dominica.
MADE IN ST. BARTH
Any number of places sell bath products, resortwear, T-shirts and so on. For a swell selection of all of the above, stop in for a browse at this little one-stop shop in St. Jean’s shopping center. Not only does it carry Ligne St. Barth skin products (see above), it also has sandals, artisanal jewelry, popular "Made in St. Barth" T-shirts, belts, beach hats, island clothing for men and women, colorful print and pastel dresses, and its own line of leather handbags. Think of it as a kind of St. Bart’s greatest shopping hits.
PATI DE SAINT BARTH
Passage de la Crémaillière
It’s true that Parisian Pati Guyot’s two boutiques are one-trick ponies of a sort—basically, all they stock is her line of clothes and sundry accessories emblazoned with what has become the island’s well-known logo, a squarish rendering of the words "St. Barth French West Indies" with an itty-bitty island silhouette in the middle. (There’s also a variation in a more hand-scrawled style.) But the quality is excellent, the look and logo are iconic, and you can actually get a pretty decent range of stuff, from various tops and bottoms (outer and inner) for guys, gals and kids to bags, towels, sarongs, bracelets, dog tags, computer cases, jewelry—there’s even an Anglo-French music mix.
Even if you’re not staying at the Eden Rock, its woody boutique is definitely a cut above the usual resort sundries shops and well worth a visit for fetching, sometimes sizzling international fashions in resortwear you’re unlikely to track down at home. Examples include snazzy swimsuits from Etro out of Italy and Anika Brazil out of guess where; cool shades from Christian Roth and Britain’s Cutler and Gross; intricate gold and silver earrings and necklaces by Francesca Amfitheatrof; hip handbags by Meli Melo; and lots more from hot brands and designers in Europe and South America.
There’s no shortage on St. Bart’s of clothing boutiques, carrying both imports and locally made threads. But Swedish designer Sabina Clason’s gorgeous handcrafted and hand-dyed clothing—mostly women’s but also some for guys and kids and even a doggie T-shirt—stands out. Her designs in light cottons, linens and silks—some loose and flowing, some form-hugging, some downright sheer—practically define casual yet elegant island living and are extremely popular with both repeat visitors and residents. She also carries some accessories and a selection of cool, earthy jewelry using materials like amber, aquamarine and turquoise.