Pointe des Chateaux

 

The Pointe des Chateaux is at the extreme East end of Grande Terre, where the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea meet. Over time, the relentless force of the wind and waves has carved the Pointe into four castle-like shapes, hence the name. A large concrete cross was placed on the bluff overlooking the towers in 1951. Viewed from the beach, the towers are clearly separate; viewed from the bluff, they appear to be a single rock formation.

The Pointe is about a 15 minute drive from St. Francois along a peninsula. On the way, you will pass several restaurants, including La Colombo and the Iguane Cafe. Several lovely beaches can be found on the Atlantic side of the route, including Pointe Tarare (a naturist beach) and Grande Saline. Grande Saline in particular is prettier than any of the beaches in St. Francois; it does require parking by the side of the road and a brief walk to the beach along a short trail. It is a wide white sand cove, guarded by sheltering rock jetties.

The parking area at the Pointe des Chateaux is located next to the beach at the Pointe. This beach has dangerous undertows and a powerful surf. Most guides advise against swimming here, especially with the Grande Saline so near. A small restaurant and bar is located next to the parking area, cleverly placed so that no one dining there actually has a view of either the Pointe or the beach. To the left of the beach is a flat rocky area which the wind and water has carved into tunnels and sharp honeycombs. There are many blow holes and tidal pools in this area, and the surf creates an eerie whistle.

A walk to the top of the bluff is strongly recommended. In addition to the view of the Pointe, there are tremendous cliffs on the Caribbean side of the bluff, and the view back along the peninsula is unique. There are two routes to the top. One trail leads alongside the beach and then climbs a staircase carved into the rock of the bluff. The other trail begins at the end of the unpaved parking area and is a longer, but flatter, ascent. If you can possibly brave the stairs, take that route. The view is lovely, and the ocean breeze is cooling. The inland route is much hotter, longer, and has no view.

At the top of the bluff, signposts detail the views. On the Atlantic side, the island of la Desirade is clearly visible above the Pointe itself. On the Caribbean side, the towns St. Francois, Ste. Anne and Gosier are clear on the coastline, as well as the island of Marie-Galante and La Soufriere (on a clear day). The cliffs are steep, and the Guadeloupe Park Service evidently believes that something so garish as a guard rail would mar the pristine nature of the area, so watch your step. Apparently, giant religious icons are exempt from the "Keep Nature Pure" mandate.

By all means, visit the Pointe des Chateaux. Combining it with a lunch of grilled lobster at La Colombo would make a perfect half-day on a day in which you want some beach time as well. A quick lunch at the restaurant/bar and an afternoon at Grande Saline would also be a pleasant day.

 

 

 
  The view of the Pointe des Chateaux from the bluff, with la Desirade on the horizon.