Local traditions and culture in Guadeloupe

  • Local Customs
    by shohman
  • sugarbirds
    by dustmon
  • Dancing the zouk
    Dancing the zouk
    by Pieter11

Most Viewed Local Customs in Guadeloupe

  • sylvie-uk's Profile Photo


    by sylvie-uk Written Aug 14, 2004

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    the Zouk is a type of music which is played a lot on radios but is also a slow dance where you have to be totally stuck with your partner.
    one of their favorite hobbies when they are dancing is to try to dance with your partner on one floor-tile and not get out of it.
    in the beginning of the century, zouk meant a quit "hot" country ball. it was not advised to well educated women.
    and my advise to women today would be:
    think twice before you say yes to this dance as sometimes it can be putting yourself in few minutes of embarrassment.

    Related to:
    • Music

    Was this review helpful?

  • sylvie-uk's Profile Photo

    try the local food

    by sylvie-uk Updated Aug 14, 2004

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    here is few of the local dishes , drinks, and vegetables:
    *poulet colombo: chicken cooked in a curry sauce
    *accras: fritters usually eaten as an appetizer, sometimes made with morue( codfish)
    *chatrou: small octopus
    *ouassous: fresh crayfish
    *sauce chien ( if you translate it, in french it means dog sauce, do not worry, it s not a dog sauce...haha) :spicy sauce for fish
    *christophine: potato like vegetable( try the "gratin of christophine, it s lovely)
    *giraumon: local pumpkin
    *planteur: rum with tropical juices
    *ti-punch: rum with can sirup or brown sugar and lime.

    and much more, i ll add some more another day.

    Related to:
    • Food and Dining

    Was this review helpful?

  • Pieter11's Profile Photo

    Hinduism on Guadeloupe

    by Pieter11 Written Nov 19, 2008

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    As every island in the West Indies, Guadeloupe has a long history of slavery. Black slaves have been brought in from Africa by thousands and it are their descendants who now form the great majority of people on the islands. But what most people don’t know is the fact that there is also quite a large number (60.000) of Indian immigrants on the island, especially on Grande-Terre,

    The Indians were brought here as “contract-workers” although their conditions didn’t really differ a lot from the conditions from before the abolition of the slavery. After their contracts most of them settled for good on the islands, bringing with them the Indian way of cooking (the famous Colombo de Poulet is mainly of Indian origins) and their own religion: hindouism.

    All over the island you’ll see red flags in the middle of the green landscape, indicating the presence of another hindu-temple. Bright colours, offerings with rice, coconut and banana’s and all other kinds of offerings are there. Also you’ll see quiet some houses of the Indians all over the island, clearly recognisable by the flags, paintings and the bright colours.

    A hindu-temple at Pointe des Chateaux A hindu-temple on Grande-Terre The houses of Indian on Grande-Terre Offerings at an hindu-temple A bizarre detail of a hindu-temple
    Related to:
    • Religious Travel
    • Road Trip

    Was this review helpful?

  • Pieter11's Profile Photo

    Very, very French

    by Pieter11 Written Feb 17, 2009

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    As a Dutchman I have a good view of the Netherlands Antilles. These islands officially belong to the Kingdom of the Netherlands, but when you visit them they don't look like Holland at all, often the language is not even spoken, a different currency is used, the culture is different and also very important: the people call themselves "Antillians", "Arubans" or "Sabans", but you'll hardly here them saying that they're Dutchmen.

    I didn't visit a British island in the Caribbean, but from my visits to former colonies I couldn't tell that those used to be British either. Well: that's completely different on Guadeloupe. It is France, the people are proud to be French, and it even looks like "the Motherland".

    On Guadeloupe they use to Euro, it is a part of the European Union, they speak French, French bread is everywhere, all products sold are produced in France. The people are proud to be French and they even have the same "strike-culture".

    When on the island, don't try to say France to the part in Europe alone. They will correct you and say "this is France too!". They even say "this is Europe too" since it's a part of the EU. When you're referring to Europe and the motherland, just call it "Métropole". That is accepted.

    Related to:
    • Arts and Culture

    Was this review helpful?

  • Pieter11's Profile Photo

    Dance the Zouk!

    by Pieter11 Written Feb 6, 2009

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    By far the most popular music style on Guadeloupe is Zouk. This music is typical to the French Antilles Martinique and Guadeloupe and is also spreaded around French and Portuguese speaking parts of Africa, Brazil and Haiti. Everywhere on Gwada you hear this music: there is one radio station called Zouk FM that only plays this music, but basically all the other stations play the same style...

    Almost all lyrics in Zouk-music are sung in Creole, sometimes French is used as well. The dance is very popular, the only problem is that often there is a lack of women to dance with in the clubs. As soon as Zouk-music is started you see the men rushing to the few women available.

    In my video's on my Guadeloupe-page you can see a lesson of Zouk-dance and listen to some Zouk-songs. The most popular style is the slow "Zouk Love", where is dancing is more sensual and the lyrics are so sweet that it hurts your teeth.

    Dancing the zouk
    Related to:
    • Arts and Culture
    • Music

    Was this review helpful?

  • Pieter11's Profile Photo


    by Pieter11 Updated Feb 17, 2009

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    OK, Guadeloupe is officially French-speaking, but still a large percentage of the people use Créole in every day life. Créole is a mixture of languages turned into a completely different language. There are influences of Spanish, Portuguese, French, English and some African influences as well. It is very important to know that not every "Créole" in the world is the same: people from Haiti speak differently then those from Gwada, and on Martinique it is different again.

    Some basic rules about Créole are mentioned belong. On the website in the below mentioned link you can find some basic words, phrases:

    - The Créole alphabet does not include: C H J Q X
    - The letter C is replaced by K
    - The letter H or the sound does not exist in the language
    - The letter J is replaced by letters dy: Joke becomes Dyok
    - The letter R is written but is hardly pronounced: sounds more like "W": Kweyol
    - The letter Q is replaced by letters kw: Quack becomes Kwak
    - The letter X is replaced by the letters ks: Taxi becomes Taksi
    - U is only used with “O”. eg. Tou, Nou and Poul

    Related to:
    • Arts and Culture

    Was this review helpful?

  • sylvie-uk's Profile Photo


    by sylvie-uk Updated Jun 19, 2004

    3 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    if you come across to pass close to a cemetary and can hear some singing and see lighten candles, this is the way in some places that people mourn a departure of someone as they think people should be remembered in a happy way.

    Was this review helpful?

  • Pieter11's Profile Photo

    No girls in the nightscene

    by Pieter11 Written Feb 16, 2009

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    One very special thing about the nightlife on Guadeloupe is the fact that there are hardly any girls going out. In an average bar or club about 90% of the customers are men and the 10% that are women generally are accompanied by their boyfriends. Why is that? I don't know: on neighbouring islands you don't see things like this, but on Gwada it is very normal.

    There are places where girls do go to. Normally this are dancings that open their doors around 21:00 already and then the first group of customers are women. When around midnight the guys start coming in, the girls go home again.

    The only exception on this rule that I found is Le Cheyenne in Gosier, where there was a really mixed public. Apart from this, they're all the same...

    Was this review helpful?

  • MickeH's Profile Photo


    by MickeH Updated Jul 14, 2008

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Coming from Sweden, where every drink ordered is mesured with ml precision to have exactly the amount of alcohol that you paid for, to Guadeloupe was a bit of a clash of cultures.
    But in a good way, without a doubt.

    The first evidence of this was when we ordered a beer and a Cuba Libre at the hotel bar upon arrival. (Something we ended up doing every evening we came back to the hotel, the bartender didn't even ask what we wanted but simply put two drinks and two beers on the bar as soon as he saw us)
    He gave us two glasses half full of pure rum, and wondered if we wanted one or two 25cl bottles of coke to mix it up with...

    Another example was when we were having dinner at a restaurant and I ordered a Ti-Punch. I got served an empty glass with some sugar and a slice of lime on the bottom. And a full bottle of rum. 20 minutes later he came back and asked if I was done with the bottle, not even bothering to check how much I'd taken.

    You gotta love that mentality.

    50/50 Cuba Libre

    Was this review helpful?

  • Flaul's Profile Photo

    Si la nouvelle créolité est...

    by Flaul Written Aug 26, 2002

    1.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Si la nouvelle créolité est encore à ses débuts, les Antillais se retrouvent encore dans un ensemble de pratiques qui les soudent. Ainsi en Guadeloupe, c'est à travers le folklore, le langage, la gastronomie, les danses et la musique, l'habillement et les croyances que la population puise ses référants d'identité culturelle.
    Cette pluralité des cultures qui ont droit de cité dans les îles de l'archipel fait qu'il se passe toujours quelque chose quelque part, que ce soit dans les campagnes ou au sein des villages et des villes.

    Les fêtes communales, les combats de coqs, les veillées culturelles, les 'lewoz' ou fêtes, les veillées mortuaires, les fêtes des différentes communautés comme les Indiens, les courses d'attelage tirants, sont autant d'occasions qui sont offertes au visiteur à longueur d'année, d'apprécier la vitalité des traditions culturelles des îles.

    Principalement dans les villes telles Pointe à Pitre et Basse-Terre, se trouvent les principales structures de diffusion et d'expression culturelles: salles de spectacles, galeries, musées, bibliothèques, etc.

    Des manifestations, des spectacles en tous genres, des expositions d'oeuvres artistiques de qualité sont régulièrement programmés, où alternent des artistes locaux comme internationaux.

    Certains évènements et manifestations attirent régulièrement de nombreux visiteurs. Il s'agit bien sûr du carnaval de janvier à mars, de la fête des cuisinières en août, les combats de coqs, les fêtes patronales, la route du rhum tous les quatre ans et les festivals.

    Was this review helpful?

  • Flaul's Profile Photo

    HistoryWhen sighted by...

    by Flaul Written Aug 26, 2002

    1.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    When sighted by Columbus in 1493, Guadeloupe was inhabited by Carib Indians, who called it Karukera, 'Island of Beautiful Waters.' The Spanish made two attempts to settle Guadeloupe in the early 1500s but were repelled both times by fierce Carib resistance and finally abandoned their claim to the island in 1604.

    Three decades later, French colonists sponsored by the Compagnie des Îles d'Amérique, an association of French entrepreneurs, set sail to establish the first European settlement on Guadeloupe. The party landed on the southeastern shore of Basse-Terre in 1635 and claimed Guadeloupe for France. The French drove the Caribs off the island, planted crops and within a decade had built the first sugar mill. By the time France officially annexed the island in 1674, a slave-based plantation system was well established.

    The English invaded Guadeloupe several times, and between 1759 and 1763 they developed Pointe-à-Pitre into a major harbor, opened profitable English and North American markets to Guadeloupean sugar and allowed planters to import cheap American lumber and food. Many French colonists actually grew wealthier under the British occupation as the economy expanded rapidly. But the party ended with the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1763, under which the French traded their claims in Canada for the return of Guadeloupe.

    Amid the chaos of the French Revolution, the British invaded Guadeloupe again in 1794. In response, the French sent a contingent of soldiers led by Victor Hugues, a black nationalist who freed and armed Guadeloupean slaves. On the day the British troops withdrew from Guadeloupe, Hugues went on a rampage and killed 300 Royalists, many of them plantation owners. It marked the start of a reign of terror resulting in the deaths of more than 1000 colonists. As a consequence of Hughes' attacks on American ships, the US declared war on France, prompting an anxious Napoleon Bonaparte to dispatch a general to Guadeloupe to put down the uprising, restore the pre-revolutionary government and reinstitute slavery.

    Throughout the 19th century, Guadeloupe was the most prosperous island in the French West Indies, and the British continued to covet it, invading and occupying the island for most of the period between 1810 and 1816. The Treaty of Vienna restored the island to France, which has maintained sovereignty over it since 1816. Slavery was abolished in 1848, following a campaign led by French politician Victor Schoelcher. In the years that followed, planters brought laborers from Pondicherry, a French colony in India, to work in the cane fields.

    Since 1871, Guadeloupe has had representation in the French parliament and since 1946 has been an overseas department of France. Both Guadeloupe and Martinique use French currency and stamps and fly the French flag. Guadeloupe's political status hasn't satisfied everyone, however, and a local secessionist movement has occasionally resorted to acts of terrorism. The peace has also been disrupted by the local volcano, La Soufrière, which erupted in the 1970s and still belches sulfurous fumes today. Though agriculture remains the mainstay of the economy, the importance of tourism has grown in recent years.

    Guadeloupean culture draws on French, African, East Indian and West Indian influences. The mix is visible in the architecture, which ranges from French colonial to Hindu temples; in the food, which merges influences from all the cultures into a unique Creole cuisine; and in the local Creole patois that predominates in the home.

    At festivals and cultural events on Guadeloupe, you're likely to see women wearing traditional Creole dress, which is typically a full, brightly colored skirt, commonly a madras-type plaid of oranges and yellows, with a matching headdress, a white lace-trimmed blouse and petticoat and a scarf draped over the shoulder.

    In the arts, the most renowned native son is the poet Saint-John Perse, the pseudonym of Alexis Léger, who was born in Guadeloupe in 1887 and won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1960 for the evocative imagery of his poems. One of his many noted works is Anabase (1925), which was translated into English by TS Eliot.

    The islands have a thriving music scene, including zouk, calypso, reggae and beguine, which Guadeloupeans claim they, not Martinicans, invented
    Guadeloupe proper comprises twin islands divided by a narrow mangrove channel, the Rivière Salée. The islands are volcanic in origin, with a total land area about half the size of Luxembourg. The two main islands join to form the shape of a butterfly, though while their outline is roughly symmetrical, the topography is anything but. The eastern wing, Grande-Terre, has gently rolling hills and level plains, much of which are cultivated in sugar cane. The western wing, Basse-Terre, is dominated by rugged hills and mountains wrapped in a dense rainforest of tall trees and lush ferns. Much of the interior of Basse-Terre has been set aside as a national park. It includes the Eastern Caribbean's highest waterfalls and Guadeloupe's highest peak, the 1470m (4810ft) smoldering volcano, La Soufrière.

    Of the nearby offshore islands, Les Saintes are high and rugged, Marie-Galante is relatively flat and La Désirade has an intermediate topography with hills that rise to 270m (895ft).

    The islands' diverse vegetation ranges from mangrove swamps to mountainous rainforest. Basse-Terre has an abundance of tropical hardwood trees, including lofty gommiers and large buttressed chataigniers, plus thick fern forests punctuated with flowering heliconia and ginger. Birds found on Guadeloupe include various members of the heron family, pelicans, hummingbirds and the endangered Guadeloupe wren. The bright yellow-bellied bananaquit, a small nectar-feeding bird, is frequently seen supping at unattended sugar bowls in open-air restaurants. Guadeloupe has mongooses aplenty, which were introduced long ago in a futile attempt to control rats in the sugar cane fields. Agoutis (short-haired, rabbit-like rodents that look a bit like a guinea pig) are found on La Désirade, as are iguanas, which also roam Les Saintes.

    Pointe-à-Pitre's average high temperature in January is 28°C (83°F), while the low averages 20°C (68°F). In July, the average high is 30°C (88°F), while the low averages 23°C (75°F). February to April are the driest months, when measurable rain falls an average of seven days a month and the average humidity is 77%. July and November are the wettest months, when rain falls for about 14 days and the humidity averages 85%. Hurricanes come to call during this humid time. Because of its elevation, Basse-Terre is both cooler and rainier than Grande-Terre. The trade winds, called alizés, often temper the climate.

    Was this review helpful?

  • seagoingJLW's Profile Photo

    Think French!!! Outstanding...

    by seagoingJLW Written Sep 7, 2002

    1.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Think French!!! Outstanding buys in perfumes, Parisian fashions, silk items, porcelain, crystal, liqueurs and vintage wine can be found.

    The standard Guadeloupe souvenir is a puffed up, porcupine spined puffer fish (poisson lune). I suppose, if you wanted to, you could make a lampshade out of it as the islanders suggest.

    Was this review helpful?

  • BEETLE_VERTE's Profile Photo

    They have a 'Pani Problem'...

    by BEETLE_VERTE Written Aug 25, 2002

    1.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    They have a 'Pani Problem' philosophy in Guadeloupe which translate in No Problemo. Altough it's the perfect philosophy for a vacation, it can gets in the way of your important stuff, like catching your flight back! Double-check even if they tell you everything is under control. Same rules apply if you rent a car; I've been warn that some dealers are illegal.

    Was this review helpful?

  • If you don't know French,...

    by vlf Written Aug 24, 2002

    1.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    If you don't know French, learn as much as you can before you go. Very few people speak English. Even at the Tourism Office in Guadeloupe's largest city, I could not find anyone who spoke English. My high school French just wasn't enough. If you try to speak French, no matter how poorly, people will be more willing to try their poor English. Usually (but certainly not always), their poor English was way better than my poor French.

    Guadeloupe was called Karukera - island of beautiful waters - by the Caribs who inhabited it when Columbus first landed on Basse Terre. Guadeloupe became a French colony (except the many times when it was seized by the English) based on a slave economy. The Carib were killed or forcibly removed to nearby Dominica. Slavery was finally abolished by official decree in 1833. Since that time, groups of Indians and Chinese were brought in as laborers. A majority of citizens now are either black or mulatto. It is a visibly well-blended society.

    Since 1946, Guadeloupe has been a French overseas department with all the rights (ostensibly) and benefits belonging to other French citizens. Its dependencies are la Desirade, Marie Galante, les Saintes, St. Barthelemy and St. Martin.

    There have been movements for independence, autonomy and federalization. There remains some resentment toward 'bekes' (Creole term for the white landowners) and the 'French French' but, at least on the surface, every one appears to get along well.

    The main culture is Creole.

    Remember that this is a Catholic country especially if you need to do any thing on Sunday. The only places open in Point a Pitre on Sunday were a Kentucky Fried Chicken and a McDonalds. Luckily sidewalk stands opened up upon the arrival of a passenger boat from Les Saintes. Oddly enough, most St. Anne grocers, bakeries and ice cream stores and some restaurants were open for at least part of Sunday.

    Was this review helpful?

  • Dual Customs in Guadeloupe:chicken w/hands o fork

    by sh_rey_rey Updated Jul 16, 2005

    It's really interesting the Dual Customs in Guadeloupe since there are both Creole locals and French locals as well. My friend Jennifer and I were hanging out with our Creole friend Laure, and we starting eating some chicken together. She noticed and mentioned how strange it was that we picked our chicken up and ate it with our hands. She on the other hand used her fork and knife to cut off and eat pieces of chicken. She says that it was much more proper to eat it with a fork and knife. On the other hand however, later on in the trip when we were with a group of local french people, we started eating our chicken with our fork and knife and they told us it's much faster and easier if we ate it with our hands. So the dual customs in Guadeloupe is interesting, yet fun to learn the differences.

    Was this review helpful?

Guadeloupe Hotels

See all 130 Hotels in Guadeloupe

Top Guadeloupe Hotels

Saint Martin Hotels
91 Reviews - 246 Photos
Marigot Hotels
8 Reviews - 56 Photos
Trois-Rivières Hotels
2 Hotels
Terre-de-Haut Hotels
4 Hotels
Terre de Haut Hotels
1 Hotel
Saint-François Hotels
5 Reviews - 11 Photos
Sainte-Rose Hotels
1 Hotel
Sainte-Anne Hotels
6 Reviews - 7 Photos
Pointe-Noire Hotels
1 Hotel
Pointe-à-Pitre Hotels
4 Hotels
Petites-Anses Hotels
1 Hotel
Petit-Bourg Hotels
2 Hotels
Marie-Galante Hotels
4 Reviews - 15 Photos
Les Abymes Hotels
1 Hotel
Le Moule Hotels
1 Hotel

Instant Answers: Guadeloupe

Get an instant answer from local experts and frequent travelers

120 travelers online now


Guadeloupe Local Customs

Reviews and photos of Guadeloupe local customs posted by real travelers and locals. The best tips for Guadeloupe sightseeing.
Map of Guadeloupe