From ever-fashionable Paris to the glamour and romance of the French Riviera, France is known around the globe for its style. French luxury goods enjoy a similar reputation, beloved for their quality but sometimes bemoaned for their price. Fear not: there is a way to buy all things French without breaking the bank. Enter the friendly Caribbean destination of St. Martin, an overseas collectivity of France that combines its Caribbean identity with authentic French influence.
Breezy beaches, picturesque environs, exhilarating adventures, captivating history, sundown parties, eclectic cuisine, and a laid-back vibe are among the many things you will find in St. Martin. From the myriad pastry shops selling artisan baguettes and croissants to the prevalent French tongue, a vacation in St. Martin comes with an immersion in unique overseas Francophone culture.
From wine and cheese to designer tees, St. Martin has it all. As the only island in the Caribbean with no VAT and no customs, you’ll want to fill your bags with as many of the finest French goods you can carry. We’ve put the indulgent list below together for you to give you an idea of where to start in your souvenir search:
French Wines have been held in high esteem across the world for decades. Each bottle of wine represents both the best quality grapes and the hard work of the vignerons. St. Martin imports these beautifully crafted wines from France and sells them at a much more economical rate. SuperU, one of the main grocery stores in Marigot, has an international shelf with French wines that will make you go “ooh là là”. You can find everything from Champagne and Chablis to Chinon and Châteauneuf-du-Pape at prices starting as low as $20.
Another must-shop for oenophiles is Le goût du vin. This little specialty shop in Marigot has been a wine importer and distributor based in Saint Martin since 1988. The staff is accommodating and knowledgeable, and they have a collection that will make you want to sip and savour till the end of time. Grab a bottle for a seaside picnic or ask that it be wrapped for your suitcase to take home.
Some countries have a few varieties of cheese they’re proud of, but the French have a truly staggering amount. Conservative estimates suggest that France produces around 200 to 400 different types of cheese. While you won’t find every single variety of this massive portfolio in St. Martin, you’re sure to find something among their expansive inventory to complete your charcuterie.
Starting from Brie de Meaux, Camembert, Roquefort, and Munster among many more, it’s amazing how many types of cheeses you can try…and at prices that are often a fraction of what you would pay elsewhere in the world. The combination of wine and cheese would be a perfect gift for your friends and family and trust us, you will be thanked (profusely) for it.
Designer Clothing and Shoes:
The cobbled streets of colourful Marigot are flush with French-inspired boutiques and shopping arcades. You are bound to find a great haul here. If you didn’t budget for high-end merchandise, step into these designer boutiques-on-a-budget to check out what’s new from the runway. Check out the ultra luxe boutiques at the West Indies Mall in Marigot, or along Rue de la République, Rue du Général de Gaulle, and Rue la Liberté, where French luxury items such as Christofle tableware, Louis Vuitton bags, and Cartier accessories are sold more affordably along with a well-priced prêt-à-porter.
Perfumes and Cosmetics:
When it comes to perfumes and cosmetics, few countries have a stronger claim to fame than France. The island of St. Martin imports these exclusive products so that the island’s visitors have access to the finest French brands. Thousands of highly coveted products that are hard to find outside of France, from Chanel to Dior to Yves Saint Laurent, can be bought here. Situated in Marigot, the shop “Lipstick” offers the largest assortment of fragrances and cosmetics.
Shopping for French imports on St. Martin will make you wish you had brought a bigger suitcase. Keep in mind that although most St. Martin stores open around 9 am and close around 7 pm, many shopkeepers close to take an extended lunch break from around 12:30 to 2 pm, or later. So go on and shop your heart out, and don’t forget to stock up, bien sûr!
Source: Discover Saint Martin