A Five-Room Hotel overlooking Marigot Bay – St. Lucia
Tour #1 – Castries: The Capital City Area Tour
Heading North from Marigot Bay, you’ll wind downhill into the Cul de Sac valley, filled with mile after mile of banana plantations.
Eudovic Art Studio
The man who has been wood carving in St. Lucia for the longest time is Eudovic. At his studio on the Morne, Victor Eudovic transforms wood into smooth, abstract forms.
He uses the direction of the wood grain to produce pieces that virtually reach out to be touched. There is nothing utilitarian about his work – he is quite simply a magnificent artist.
Every item is unique and different.
Eudovic prefers to work with Laurier Canelle, a tree which is now extinct, but Eudovic uses ancient stumps and roots found deep within the rainforest.
He also carves in Mahogany, Teak, Laurier Mabouey and red or white Cedar.
Eudovic’s Art Studio, a 40-year old tradition of Sculpturing which mirrors the Artistic symbols of the St. Lucia people.
Your visit to St Lucia is not truly complete without a visit to Caribelle Batik. This is a combination of sightseeing and shopping at its best, because here, just five minutes from the heart of Castries , is an open batik workshop, and a shop where you can buy the superb creations produced there.
The workshop at Caribelle Batik is housed in one of the finest remaining examples of Victorian Caribbean architecture, Howelton House, lovingly and faithfully restored over a period of two years. It is perched amid lush greenery high on The Morne, with fabulous views over Castries Harbor and indeed most of the island. On most days you can see the island of Martinique on the horizon, shimmering in the sunlight. Don’t forget your camera!
Local tradition whispers that the house is haunted, and the Caribelle operation certainly lends itself to the imagination, with the artists working over simmering cauldrons of wax, the floors creaking under a thick layer of wax drippings, and the scent of molten beeswax drifting through the open window blending with the heady odors of cedar and bougainvillea after a rain shower.
Visitors are invited to watch the batik process, an art 2,000 years old. There are some 60 workers at Caribelle, using cotton made to order in England in many weights and weaves, and the silky West Indian sea island cotton, available in limited quantities only. Other raw materials are St Lucian beeswax, paraffin wax and the most modern imported dyes.
Both artistry and practice are involved in producing Caribelle’s creations. The all-local staff are encouraged to try their own designs, tracing their patterns onto the cloth, then pouring on the hot wax to shield the parts of the fabric not to be dyed. The process is repeated several times to create unique fabrics, each one an individual work of art. In the final step, the wax is removed by boiling the cloth for about 30 minutes. This guarantees that the fabrics are preshrunk and colorfast. It may take as long as nine or ten days before a design is ready to be made into a garment or wall hanging.
Each product in handmade, each maintaining its individuality. They are uniquely St Lucian. And the wonderful thing about watching this fascinating process is that afterward you can walk into the Caribelle Batik shop and buy from a wide range of items for men, women, children and the home: shirts, dresses, beachwear, and wall hangings. Cool and casual, the colors are bright, reflecting the brilliancy of the Caribbean.
After leaving Caribelle Batik, the road winding up its slopes affords visitors many sensational vistas of the city and harbor below.
Many tours include Bagshaws on their itinerary not only because it’s near Morne Fortune, but because the silk screen workshop that turns out the famous Bagshaw fashions is of genuine interest.
The designs are all St. Lucia inspired and visitors can view the whole production process.
The views to the rocky beach below are romantically beautiful. Bagshaws is well worth the visit whether or not you buy any of the many silk-screened items – but you’ll find yourself very tempted indeed!
Few minutes away after driving through Castries is Pointe Seraphine, a modern and extensive duty-free shopping complex popular with tourists and cruise-ship passengers. The list of shops in this charming Spanish colonial mall is impressive and includes several international firms. Jewelry, watches, perfume, bone china, electronics, liquor, paintings, designer fashion accessories and resort wear are sold here at considerable savings.
St. Lucian painters are extremely blessed. The landscape and the flora provide the most vibrant palette of colors and textures that only serve to inspire the island’s artists.
The talented and beautiful Michelle Elliott uses bright, colorful pastels to portray her unique interpretation of St. Lucian life. Her work can be viewed at her Pointe Seraphine’s Boutique: Clear Blue Store.
Llewellyn Xavier is know for his flamboyant oil paintings that successfully capture the colors and textures that are found throughout St. Lucia.
His work is in the permanent collections of such prestigious galleries as the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art in New York. Llewellyn Xavier’s highly versatile and valuable work can be viewed at his wife’s gallery, St. Lucia Fine Art, at Pointe Seraphine.
Lunch at The Coal Pot
The Coal Pot has been a fine dining experience for the last forty years. Michelle Elliot owns and manages the restaurant – voted Restaurant of the Year in 1999.
New World cuisine, the marriage of the freshest Caribbean ingredients with simple, yet exquisite, French cooking methods, is the Coal Pot’s trademark.
At lunch, a daily special is served alongside dishes like Greek and shrimp salads. Fresh, local fish prepared in a variety of excellent sauces is an ideal lunch choice. Dinner, with linen service, is a relaxed affair. Coquilles St. Jacques and smoked salmon add a continental flair to local delicacies, such as curried chicken served in a coconut shell. There is also a selection of fine wine.
The Coal Pot’s ambiance is as special as the cuisine. The walls of the wood open-air structure are decorated with colorful Caribbean art. These acrylic and water designs are Michelle’s imaginative creations. Just a few feet away from the dining tables, the waters of the Vigie Marina lap against the coral stone beach. On full moon nights, tables are set under the stars.
The Coal Pot is not only a food lover’s delight but an intimate place to lunch and dine!
Castries, the maze-like capital of St. Lucia, is the main port and largest city on the island. The town was founded in the 18th century by the French, but has since been completely destroyed by fire four times, most recently in 1948.
As a result, the city is fairly modern, with few historical landmarks. Nevertheless, there are a number of narrow streets lined with colonial buildings that are decorated with graceful balconies and intricate latticework.
The area around Derek-Walcott Square, the old center of town, is particularly lovely. The square spans half an acre of fenced land embellished with flowering trees and bushes, a fountain and an enormous 400-year-old saman tree.
A monument gives tribute to St. Lucians who gave their lives for country during the two world wars. The square has become a favorite venue for celebrating local festivals including the annual jazz festival held each spring.
Next door in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. The building has a somber gray stone exterior with a faded red roof. The church’s interior, however, reveals a joyful splurge of color and inspirited grace. The murals by St. Lucian artist Dunstan St. Omer are quite remarkable.
On the west side of the square is the National Library, a grand old building with stately columns and white trim. Inside, you’ll find a considerable collection of antique maps of the island and the Caribbean Sea.
The crux of the action in downtown Castries is centered around William Peter Boulevard, a long plaza lined with banks, shops, post office, telephones, office buildings, shops, boutiques and street vendors.
At the heart of this quaint waterfront town is the Castries’ market. This is a colorful emporium overflowing with piles of mouth-watering tropical fruits, fresh vegetables and stall after stall of handcrafted items.
Wicker furniture, baskets made of khus grass, crew pine and sisal, and the famous St. Lucian coal pots are sold here, along with bead necklaces, wood carvings and a marvelous selection of herbs and spices… just too good to pass up!
Sightseeing and Shopping in St. Lucia
St. Lucia demands to be explored. There’s basically one main road that circles the entire island, so chances of losing your way are slim indeed. Be prepared for narrow roads, dogleg cruces, hairpin turns and more potholes than you will care for; but be assured the trip is worth every twist and gasp.
If you’re venturing out on your own, it’s a good idea to bring along your bathing suit, a towel and something to drink. Most of the tour can be done in a full day, but to really enjoy it, you should split it up over a couple of days or more. Get an early start and avoid the afternoon heat.
If you plan to buy duty free items at duty free shopping malls such as La Place Carenage, Pointe Seraphine or J. Q. Mall in Rodney Bay, you need to bring you airline ticket and identification. You will be required to show both when making your purchases.