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The Five-Point Weekend Escape Plan

Escape the Crowds in French St. Martin


5. Oddball Day

The stalls of Marigot Market, with hilltop Fort Saint Louis in the distance.  

After all of your adventuring, take a day to enjoy some of the island’s slower-paced cultural treats. Start your day in the port town of Marigot, with a café au lait ($3) and exceptionally flaky croissants ($1.30) at Sarafina’s (Boulevard de France; 590-5-90-29-74-32), an authentic French bakery near the harbor. Next, wander through stalls of clothes, handmade jewelry, fresh fruit, and just-caught fish at the open-air Marigot Market along the waterfront (Wednesday and Saturday are the biggest days). Walk along the bay through downtown Marigot, then trek up the hill to Fort Saint Louis, St. Martin’s largest historic monument (named for Louis XVI). The fort, completed in 1789 to protect Marigot from foreign invaders, offers one of the best views of the island. Head back into town and sample the island’s specialty of johnnycakes with saltfish ($1.50 each) from Enoch’s, one of the local food stands in the market. Afterward, take a one-of-a-kind perfume-making class (from $90; arrange in advance) at Tijon, a family-run boutique perfumery in Grand Case. You’ll don a lab coat to create your own custom-made perfume from more than 300 aromatic oils and then head home with your own signature fragrance, plus a goody bag of sample-size lotions, sunscreens, and lip balms. Get cleaned up and do a foodie tour of Grand Case, the island’s culinary capital. Start out with cocktails and tapas at Love, a boutique hotel with a great beachside lounge. Then have a proper French meal at the excellent Le Pressoir, where you can order grilled frog's legs ($18) and roasted guinea hen with foie gras ($35). Finish off the evening with an aptly named Pain Killer—a rum, orange, and coconut concoction ($10)—at the beachside Calmos Cafe, where live salsa and reggae bands play on Thursdays and Sundays.

Published on May 31, 2013 as a web exclusive.

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