St. Martin is one half of the smallest island ever to be divided between two countries. St. Martin is a French territory, while the other half, Sint Maarten, belongs to the Dutch under the Netherlands Antilles group of islands. The border between the two is almost non-existent, in that people can easily just go back and forth. In fact, they may not even realise they have already crossed over to another country. But once you do go over to the other side, you will know right away that you’re in a different place. St. Martin is everything French. Its beaches and luxury resorts all comply with the French’s preference for chic comforts. The island has its own café culture, boutiques selling French fashions, and fresh croissants are sold alongside West Indian fare. It’s simply island living, the French way. On the other hand, Sint Maarten remains very much a mix of Caribbean and Dutch. Read more about Sint Maarten under the country listing, Netherlands Antilles.


The capital city of St. Martin exudes a decidedly French atmosphere that goes well beyond Parisian architecture. On Wednesdays and Saturdays, the Marigot Market offers a colourful array of homegrown produce, tropical fruits and freshly caught fish. Numerous famous shops and stores dote the city as well, and cafés, bistros, and pastry shops are as much a staple here as in the French towns that inspired it.