Experience

Why This Tiny Caribbean Fishing Village Is Your Next Culinary Destination

By: Caribbean Journal Staff - June 2, 2015

Above: Deshaies, Guadeloupe (all photos by CJ)

By Alexander Britell

DESHAIES — Just before noon on a recent trip to Guadeloupe’s Island of Basse-Terre, I saw a rooster walking into a church.

At first glance, it seemed the most exciting thing to happen all day — he was clearly heading to confession for failing to wake up on time. This is a sleepy town.

Or at least that’s what I thought. But soon I discovered that Deshaies may look like a quiet, unassuming fishing village, but there’s something rather exciting happening here. And it begins and ends with the food.

You see, if you squint, this unassuming street in lush, untouched Basse-Terre looks a bit like Grand Case, the culinary Mecca in St Martin.

But when you open your eyes, it’s something else: smaller, more rugged, quieter. (You also may recognize it as the site of the BBC show “Death in Paradise,” which films here as the fictional island of “Saint-Marie.”)

deshaies1

The one thing it has in common with its northern cousin is this: world-class fare, the kind of Lyon-meets-the Caribbean Sea cuisine that only the French Caribbean can produce — sometimes by local chefs, some by expat gastronomic artists from the Metropole (mainland France).

It begins at La Savane, the African-themed eatery with spectacular marlin, and then continues; you can come here for a week and have a different culinary adventure every night.

lamer

Above: L’Amer

That’s where you’ll begin to see the marvelous attention to detail on this single boulevard — the way the plantains are laid just so; the squash mash is hued exquisitely; the marlin prepared in every way possible — smoked, tartare, steak…

Then, you can go for a seaside creole feast at Le Coin des Pecheurs (go for the conch).

magret lamer

Above: magret de canard at L’Amer 

And finally there’s L’Amer, the main drag’s most hopping lunch spot (with terrific magret de canard and sublime cappucino for after the meal).

alley deshaies

 

Above: one of Deshaies’ tiny alleyways

While the food is generally focused on Creole seafood, you’ll find a range of fares; but what all these restaurants have in common is a privileged perch right on the harbour of Deshaies.

deshaies

And while these are our favourites, there are enough eateries to satiate you for a two-week stay, whether in a hillside villa or at the Langley resort nearby.

langouste

To top everything off, head to Tendacayou, in the hills above Deshaies, for a culinary tour de force that pairs Michelin-style execution with rainforest funkiness.

tendacayou

After a few days of these long, leisurely meals fit for true bon vivants, you’ll understand why the rooster was late to work.

Deshaies isn’t big — and it may never be Grand Case — but it just may have to be your next culinary stop in the Caribbean.

— CJ

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