Sporting a fusion of chic French and tropical Caribbean styles, MARIGOT is the main town on Saint Martin, and, although it can be cluttered with traffic, it is pleasant enough, especially if you want to shop, eat or just people-watch. The town extends along Marigot Bay with a selection of interesting restaurants, duty-free stores and a marina at its western end.
The main focus is the harbour at the bottom of Rue de la République, the booking and departure points for ferries to Anguilla and other islands; you'll normally see the ferries lined up alongside a fleet of fishing boats. Just west of here, beyond the taxi rank, lie a group of bars and "lolos", or food shacks, where you can get excellent and inexpensive island fare. Continuing west brings you to the island's largest market, a lively place with souvenir stands selling T-shirts, wooden carvings and the like. Vendors are here every day 6am–3pm, and on Wednesday and Saturday there is also a fresh fish and produce market.
Following the side streets away from the water brings you to Rue de la Liberté and Rue du Général Charles de Gaulle, home to restaurants and international designer boutiques. Further west still, the impressive development of the Marina Royale houses a number of classy shops selling designer clothes and jewellery, outlets offering boat and fishing trips and plenty of bars and restaurants overlooking the water.
Beyond the marina, make a point of stopping at the archeological museum (Mon– Sat 9am–1pm & 3–7pm; Tel:590/29 48 36) for its detailed and highly informative exhibits on the Amerindians and more recent history, which provides a window into the island before tourism.
On the other side of the marina is Le West Indies Shopping Mall, with designer stores, a restaurant and a couple of cafés. A 15-minute climb from the harbour leads to Fort Louis (always open; free), the remains of a 1789 fort built to protect the town from the raids of British sailors; it offers fine views across the bay.