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Saint Barthélemy, a very special niche market

The French island of Saint Barthelemy;

located in the northern part of the West Indies, is small (4 x 6 km), rugged (32 bays and 20 beaches) and renowned throughout the world.
Not easy to access (625m runway with only 19-passenger propeller aircraft), not having a deep water port (the well-sheltered port of Gustavia is more suitable for pleasure boating than to freighters!), she "deserves"!

The euro is used, but the $ commonly accepted. Occupied by French people from the nearby island of St Christophe in the 17th century, she was Swedish nearly a hundred years, then returned to France in 1879. She s been administratively attached to Guadeloupe for a long time and she enjoyed from 2007 a wide autonomy status, especially fiscal. About 10,000 inhabitants live there permanently.
The air connections are easily made with the neighboring islands, or more distant, via the Juliana airport in St Martin, 10 minutes flight. Hence, there are many flights to the USA and the Americas, as well as Europe. Other long-distance flights depart from Puerto Rico (San Juan) or Antigua. In the high season there are also helicopter connections.
The tourist season is divided into three parts, offering rates (hotels, rentals of villas and cars, contrasted); low season from mid-April to mid-December; high season from December 15th to Christmas and from January 5th to April 15th; very high season for Christmas and New Year's Day. The vast majority of the visitors are Americans. The rest coming from Europe, Northern and Eastern Europe, and South America mainly.

Tourism demand is very high (about 600 villas available - and hotels: there are no hotels with more than 60 rooms and no major chain, including 9 hotels that rate 5 stars), especially at the end of the year where several hundred yachts return to the island for the holidays!
Most visitors coming for the first time fall under his spell and wish to return. Demand is strong, including buying land for construction, or buying an existing property. Much stronger than the existing offer, so the prices keep rising, from year to year. The prices are today between those of Paris and those of Monaco ... There are three notary public offices, and very many lawyers and real estate agencies on the spot.

The island enjoys a very favorable tropical climate, tempered by the trade winds. But is located in seismic zone and cyclonic. However constructions are planned accordingly.
One of its great strengths lies in its security: ordinary crime is rare, and the serious crime almost non-existent. The economy, driven by the tourism boom, and the construction and services that flow from it, is doing well; there is almost no unemployment, and the general attitude towards work is much more « American » than « French ».
The facilities are good (schools, hospital - limited to light interventions - and networks generally work well).

The offer of quality restaurants is very important, as well as shops, art galleries and sports or cultural activities. There are many activities (music and film festivals, carnival, gastronomic festival, sports competitions ...). There is a large supermarket and many small distributed throughout the territory, including Bio, as well as specialty shops (bakeries, butchers, delicatessen, etc .). The best food is delivered once or twice a week by plane from Europe (Rungis) and the United States.
The island offers several surf spots and kite-surfing. Many artisanal fishermen continue their traditional activity (lobsters, sea bream and local fish).
The political situation is very stable, the current President (and former Mayor) has being elected with a clear majority on the Local Council for several terms. French law applies, except for local legislation under the statute of autonomy.


Jérôme Courville

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