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Saint Martin: Fort St Louis

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Fort St Louis | Saint Martin | Americas

[Visited: September 2011]

A few hours before, we had done the spectacular landing at the airport of St Maarten, and crossed into the French part of this divided island. It was a warm, humid afternoon when we arrived in Marigot, the capital of the French part of the island since the late 18th century under the reign of Louis XVI. The streets of Marigot were very quiet, and it seemed logical to climb to the ruins of the fort that once defended this small capital against foreign intruders. A steep and short climb took us to the worn entrance gate made of stone. Behind it, we found a small plateau with another small hill on which we saw the ruins of the fort. On top, a French flag was flying.

Picture of Fort St Louis (Saint Martin): Cannon of Fort St Louis with the ruins of the fort in the background

At the edges of the plateau, old cannons are still in place, some very rusty, mounted on new, wooden containers. It is easy to see that the location of this fort was perfect: close to the city, yet on a spot that would form a formidable barrier for any invading army or pirate gang. Shortly after the fort had been constructed, the revolution in France took place, which did have its repercussions also in this part of the world. The Dutch occupied the fort now that Louis XVI, after which it was named, was out of power. The fort would be attacked in the 19th century mainly by the English. When, later in that century, the European forces found peace, the relevance of the forts in the Caribbean disappeared.

Picture of Fort St Louis (Saint Martin): French flag flying over the ruins of the Fort St Louis

Nowadays, the Fort St Louis is a quiet, partially restored fort which offers the visitor an idea of how it would have looked in its heyday. It occupies the entire hill on which it is constructed, and is small in comparison to other forts in the region. It is not an official tourist site, which means that you can visit it anytime - it does not seem like a heavily visited sight. For the local people, a perfect place to walk up to, as it offers great views over the surrounding area. The modern marina below, beaches, and the inner lake with the strips of buildings, with the international airport in a distance - it can all be easily seen from the top. A face-lift of the place would make it even more attractive.

Picture of Fort St Louis (Saint Martin): Looking towards the southwestern part of the island from Fort St Louis
Picture of Fort St Louis (Saint Martin): Rusty cannon once defending Fort St Louis and the capital Marigot below
Picture of Fort St Louis (Saint Martin): One of the old doors in the Fort St Louis
Picture of Fort St Louis (Saint Martin): Entrance gate of Fort St Louis
Picture of Fort St Louis (Saint Martin): Barrel of a cannon once provided defence of the Fort St Louis
Picture of Fort St Louis (Saint Martin): The powder storage room of Fort St Louis
Picture of Fort St Louis (Saint Martin): Remains of the entrance of Fort St Louis

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