Gustavia is the main town of the island of St. Barthelemy (also known as Saint Barths or St Barts). It was named after King Gustav III of Sweden. Originally a French possession and the the town was called Carenage at that time, because of the shelter it provided to damaged ships. Sweden bought the island from France in 1785 and the town was renamed, but 100 years later it was sold back to France.
Since St Barts was too dry, too steep, too rocky, and too small it was unsuitable for agriculture and the island was never coveted as a prize during the colonial wars of the 18th century. The island did have a serviceable harbor and under Swedish rule, Gustavia served the useful purpose of providing a trade and supply center for the various warring factions. When a sea captain captured a prize or raided a settlement, he could sell the booty in St. Barths, and at the same time resupply his ship. Overflowing warehouses surrounded a harbor packed with ships from many nations, and a mercantile and architectural tradition was established that has lingered to the present day.
Today, the town has adjusted itself to satisfy the increasing number of visiting tourists. Restaurants, boutiques, and gift shops now line the busy streets. Remember this is a destination for the well to do, so there are many ultra deluxe stores and brands…..with prices to match. 🙂 On top of these there are many bakeries selling French pastries and restaurant lining the harbor that offer a wonderful experience for the day.
What I love the most is how organized and orderly the town is and it seems all the buildings have matching red roofs. It is a wonderful place to spend the day!!!!