Among the dozen or so varieties of birds we see every day in Guadeloupe, there are three kinds of doves: mourning doves, ring-neck doves, and turtle doves. The mourning doves are constant companions – they hang out on the terrace or by the pool, chasing away the ring-necks whenever possible; they perch on the roof, peck for seeds, and of course coo constantly.
We are visited by tons of birds every day: large numbers of birds and many different species. While we see blackbirds and at least two different kinds of doves every day, this green heron is only an occasional visitor, so I feel lucky to have gotten him on video, however briefly.
Rare sighting of a beautiful green heron, plus lots of blackbirds, including a youngish one squawking constantly to be fed.
This is the story of an iguana in Guadeloupe. Iguanas come and go on our property – some we recognize for a while then never see again, while others are anonymous creatures that we never get to know. Sometimes they wander in our front door – and then usually get freaked out when they see us and hide in ridiculously small gaps behind appliances and furniture for a day or more, then sneak out when the coast is clear. Other times we barely spot them racing across the driveway or hanging out on the periphery. Generally speaking, they are extremely shy (though there are exceptions). Despite their sometimes fearful appearance, iguanas would much rather take flight than fight. Continue reading →
People often ask why my husband and I decided to move permanently to Guadeloupe – and by permanently, I mean we are actually buying a piece of property to build a home and a small business. Up until now, we have always rented. Though we’ve lived two years or more in a few places – Morocco, France, Pennsylvania – we always knew that they were temporary homes. This time, we plan to stay. So, why Guadeloupe?
There are several reasons, and perhaps the most important is also the most banal: we like the weather. I am très frileuse, as the French put it: very intolerant of cold. We would have liked to stay in France, but after 5 years, I realized it was just too cold. Hyères has the Mistral, which can make even warm days chilly, so after a lot of research we moved to the warmest place dans l’Hexagone: Menton, whose microclimate and protective mountains result in moderate winters. Even so, I was still cold and unhappy for several months of the year, so we had to look further afield. Continue reading →
We flew from Crete to Athens, picked up another rental car, and headed northwest to Kastraki. My husband had found a great deal on a hotel there, but because we had so many places to visit, we only stayed for one night, which was a shame for a couple of reasons. Continue reading →
In contrast, Île de Ré, in Poitou-Charentes, is home to numerous cute towns (including two Most Beautiful Villages). We spent three nights in Sainte-Marie-de-Ré, and enjoyed talking to our hosts about the boom in housing and tourism that has occurred there since the car ferry was replaced by a toll bridge in 1988. Fortunately, there aren’t as nearly as many houses as there could be, as a lot of the land is covered in grapevines; as for the wine, however, c’est pas terrible.
In Aquitaine, the small town of Soulac-sur-mer is filled with lovely, unique villas, as are a few streets in the much larger Arcachon. They both also have beautiful beaches and I can easily imagine living in either town for a year or two. A short drive from Arcachon is the Dune du Pilat – at 107 meters, it’s the largest sand dune in Europe. The climb up can be a bit difficult, but the view from the top is extraordinary.
The exact location of the third corner isn’t obvious like the others. The westernmost point of France is l’Ã®le d’Ouessant, but we wanted to stick to the continent for the purposes of our hexagon. The westernmost point of continental France is Pointe de Corsen, which is considered the theoretical divider between the English Channel and the Atlantic Ocean. (Source: Pointe de Corsen, Terres celtes) In looking at a map of France, however, this point doesn’t exactly stand out. We feel that the part of Finisterre that pokes out just north and south of the Crozon peninsula is more corner-like, so we decided that those points together constitute the third corner.
The point to the north is Kermorvan, a small cape with a lighthouse near the town of Le Conquet, from which the ferries to Ã®le d’Ouessant leave. It was incredibly windy the day we visited, and one of our umbrellas, already fragile from Bretagne’s infamous weather, more or less self-destructed, leaving behind a naked skeleton with the ripped waterproof material flapping in the wind. It was a memorable visit.
Our second contender to the third corner crown was la Pointe du Raz, which turned out to be an internationally renowned, protected site, and was far more popular among hikers and picnickers than we’d expected.
Here’s our map from the second corner to the third, complete with detours to Paris and Loire Valley. Remember that pink indicates our route as well as towns we actually walked around and/or ate in. Blue highlights where we stayed. You can click the map to see a much bigger version.
In Perros-Guirrec, we took a boat ride around the Archipel des Sept-Îles nature preserve, during which we admired thousands of breeding pairs of Northern Gannet seabirds on Île Rouzic, and then cruised along the famous Côte de Granit rose. It was cold and rainy; I can only imagine how much more beautiful the pink granite is when the weather is nice.
Next we spent two days in Morgat, a small town on the Crozon peninsula in Finistère. This remote area is incredibly beautiful and surprisingly colorful; during our visit in late August, nearby Pointe de Dinan was covered in purple heather and other vegetation. We also took a cruise of the Grottes marines de Morgat, the “painted” caves accessible only by sea.