Fort St. Louis
Overlooking Marigot Bay on the leeward side of the island sits the imposing figure of Fort St. Louis, the largest historical monument in St.Martin. Named for the famous crusading king of France, it was originally built in 1767 to protect the settlement at Marigot from foreign invaders. The plans were sent over directly from Versailles at the order of the ill-fated French king, Louis XVI. Following the events of 1789, the fort was temporarily occupied by the Dutch to prevent the further spread of revolutionary democracy which had reached the island from Guadeloupe. Now, it no longer serves its former purpose, but the steep climb up to the summit provides a panoramic view of the island and the sea surrounding it, and the effort is well rewarded. The area is open 24/7 and there are signs explaining historical events.
PHILIPSBURG--According to political analyst Julio Romney, the survey he has carried out, in which some seventy per cent of the persons interviewed indicated they didn't think St. Maarten would achieve country status, has shown that the people feel left out in the constitutional process.
The survey, he stated on Thursday, “clearly” shows that information on “whatever steps” are being taken to realize the status of country within the Kingdom isn't reaching the ordinary people man and woman on the street.
Romney interviewed 410 people in the period June 15-30. Seven out of 10 or 70.2 per cent of those surveyed said they didn't believe St. Maarten would attain separate status. When asked: “Do you support separate status for St. Maarten?” 71.2 per cent said they don't support separate status for St. Maarten.
The data don't show that the electorate has abandoned the quest for separate status. However, the people are “disheartened” with the process and course of action. “Whatever is done, people are not convinced that things are done; at least they are not seeing it,” he told The Daily Herald.
The “uncertainty” about achieving separate status, stated Romney, has to do with “conflicting and faltering statements” by elected officials on local as well as federal level, along with “less than optimistic gestures” from the Netherlands.
The smallest island in the world ever to have been partitioned between two different nations, St. Martin/St. Maarten has been shared by the French and the Dutch in a spirit of neighborly cooperation and mutual friendship for almost 350 years.
The border is almost imperceptible. and people cross back and forth without ever realizing they are entering a new country. There are four boundries, Belle Vue / Cole Bay, French Quarter / Dutch Quarter, Low Lands / Copecoy and Oyster Pond, testifying to centuries of peaceful cohabitation and the treaty that made the arrangement possible.
All the same, each side has managed to retain much of the distinctiveness of its own national culture. The French tend to emphasize comfort and elegance. The beaches are secluded, the luxury resorts provide lavish accommodations, and the restaurants offer the finest dining experiences anywhere in the Caribbean. The latest French fashions can be found in many of the shops, and the smell of fresh croissants and pastries mixes everywhere with the spicy aromas of West Indian cooking. Small cafés and charming bistros add a decidedly Gaelic and cosmopolitan flair to the place. On the whole the atmosphere remains very relaxed.
On the other hand, St. Maarten with its busy cruise port and bustling commercial district, has long been an active center for trade and tourism. More developed and at the same time more informal, it is very Dutch in flavor and still has strong ties with fellow compatriots in the other Netherlands Antilles. Between the two different cultures in St. Martin and St. Maarten, vacationers will be able to find just about every kind of activity they might want for a perfect holiday in the sun.
Located midway through the chain of islands in the Caribbean, just as the Antilles begin to curve to the south, St. Martin is sunny and warm year-round, averaging 82 degrees Fahrenheit in summer and just 2 degrees cooler in winter. The island is buffeted by cooling trade winds that keep things temperate all year long. Average annual rainfall comes to about 45 inches, most of which occurs around late summer and early fall.