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Castries is the capital city of Saint Lucia.
Castries is in a flood gut and is built on reclaimed land. It houses the seat of government and the head offices of many of foreign and local businesses. The city's design is in a grid pattern. Its sheltered harbour receives cargo vessels, ferry boats, and cruise ships. It houses duty-free shopping facilities such as Point Seraphine and La Place Carinage. Many restaurants offer menus from local to Chinese. Supermarkets and other shopping facilities provide goods. The city is well served by a bus system and taxi service.
St Lucia's main post office is in Castries. Because most parts of the country do not use standard street addresses, mail is largely sent to P.O. boxes. Any mail sent without a town name ends up in the Castries post office.
Castries is the birthplace of Arthur Lewis, winner of the 1979 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics.
|POPULATION :||City: 70,000|
|FOUNDED :|| 1650 as "Carenage"|
1756 as "Castries"
|TIME ZONE :||Eastern Caribbean Time Zone (ECT) (UTC-4)|
|LANGUAGE :||English (official), French patois|
|RELIGION :||Roman Catholic 67.5%, Seventh Day Adventist 8.5%, Pentecostal 5.7%, Rastafarian 2.1%, Anglican 2%, Evangelical 2%, other Christian 5.1%, other 1.1%, unspecified 1.5%, none 4.5%|
|AREA :||79 km2 (30.5 sq mi)|
|ELEVATION :||2 m (6.56 ft)|
|COORDINATES :||14°01′N 60°59′W|
|SEX RATIO :||• Male: 48% |
• Female: 52%
|ETHNIC :||black 82.5%, mixed 11.9%, East Indian 2.4%, other or unspecified 3.1%|
|AREA CODE :||758|
|POSTAL CODE :|
|DIALING CODE :||+1 758|
One of the major tourist areas in St. Lucia, Castries is a port of call for cruise ships. They dock at Pointe Seraphine, to the north of the harbour, which is also a duty-free shopping centre. A taxi service is readily available to take visitors on tours of the rest of the country or the city. A water taxi takes passengers from there to the city. The greatest concentration of hotels, resorts, and restaurants are near Castries and the island's other main towns: Gros Islet, Soufrière, and Rodney Bay. The city maintains three tourist offices and one at the airport. There are many duty-free shops, several restaurants, and other eating establishments, including Burger King, Domino's pizza, and KFC.
Castries has landmarks, such as the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Derek Walcott Square (renamed from Columbus Square to honor the island's Nobel Prize-winning poet, Derek Walcott), the City Library, the Government House, and Fort Charlotte, at the top of Morne Fortune (an 845-foot or 258 m hill). Beaches are a major draw for tourists, and there are several in or very near Castries. Vigie Beach, Malabar Beach, Choc Beach, and La Toc Beach are all within easy reach.
tourist information office
There is a tourist information office, a 15 minute walk from the town centre in the cruise ship dock at Pointe Seraphine.
Free maps are available from the information desk in the La Place Carenage mall on Jeremie Street, just along from the St.Lucia Fire Service building.
Castries was founded by the French in 1650 as "Carénage" (meaning "safe anchorage") when St. Lucia was purchased by Jacques Dyel du Parquet, the governor of Martinique. It was renamed in 1756 after Charles Eugène Gabriel de La Croix, marquis de Castries, commander of a French expeditionary force to Corsica that year. The earlier settlement across the harbour at Vigie, started in 1651, was abandoned after a devastating hurricane in 1780. From 1803 to 1844, the British made the town a major naval port and built fortifications on Morne Fortune, the mountain that overlooks this important harbour. By 1844, Castries had a population of 4,000. By the end of the century it had become a major coaling station, because it was the only port in the Caribbean capable of accommodating the Royal Navy.
During World War II, a German U-boat sailed into Castries harbor and sank two allied ships in 1942, including the Canadian ocean liner RMS Lady Nelson, which was subsequently refloated in the harbour and taken to Canada to be converted to a hospital ship. Castries has been rebuilt many times, following major fires in 1796 and 1813, and most notably on June 19, 1948.
The local climate is tropical, moderated by northeast trade winds, with a dry season from 1 December to 31 May, and a wet season from 1 June to 30 November.
Average daytime temperatures are around 29 °C (84.2 °F), and average nighttime temperatures are around 18 °C (64.4 °F). Since it is fairly close to the equator, the temperature does not fluctuate much between winter and summer. Average annual rainfall ranges from 1,300 mm (51.2 in) on the coast to 3,810 mm (150 in) in the mountain rainforests.
Prices in Castries
MARKET / SUPERMARKET
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||$1.85|
|Bottle of Wine||1 bottle||$10.00|
|Dinner (Low-range)||for 2||$30.00|
|Dinner (Mid-range)||for 2||$48.00|
|Dinner (High-range)||for 2||$90.00|
|Mac Meal or similar||1 meal||$8.00|
|Beer (Imported)||0.33 l||$3.35|
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||$1.90|
|Coctail drink||1 drink||$6.00|
|Men’s Haircut||1 haircut||$|
|Mobile (prepaid)||1 min.||$0.35|
|Pack of Marlboro||1 pack||$5.00|
|Toilet paper||4 rolls||$2.85|
CLOTHES / SHOES
|Jeans (Levis 501 or similar)||1||$|
|Dress summer (Zara, H&M)||1||$|
|Sport shoes (Nike, Adidas)||1||$|
|Local Transport||1 ticket||$|
Transportation - Get In
- George FL Charles Airport (SLU) is just outside of Castries.
Many visitors will come into Castries on the cruise ships that dock at Point Seraphine.
There is actually an anchorage for sailing boats in Castries harbour, although most visitors on sailing boats tend to dock at Rodney Bay Marina, just outside of Gros Islet and then get a bus or taxi in.
Transportation - Get Around
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There are duty free shops in Pointe Seraphine, where the cruise ships dock, and also in La Place Carenage mall on Jeremie Street.
For more local goods, the busy market on Jeremie Street is worth a visit.
There are cheap local eateries in a small alley that runs alongside the market and down to Jeremie Street.
A friendly and cheap cafe selling local food is on the first floor of a building on Derek Walcott square.
Sights & Landmarks
- Fond Bay Suites, Fond Bay Drive Escap (Castries Highway/Escap (north of Micoud)), . Located on the east coast overlooking Fond Bay. Luxury villa and suites, vacation accommodation.
- Derek Walcott Square (Columbus Square)
- Morne Fortune with Fort Charlotte
Things to do
- wander around the lively local market on Jeremie Street.
- visit the viewing point over the harbour, at Morne Fortune, just below Government House.
- relax in Derek Walcott Square.
- top up your suntan on Vigie beach.
Safety in Castries
Use of camouflage bags is illegal in Saint Lucia if you're not military personnel. If you show up at the airport with one, it will be confiscated.
St Lucia is not an incredibly dangerous place, but rates of homicide, rape, and mugging have increased drastically over the past several years. You should exercise the same caution as you would at home. You should also try to stay in groups and be careful in any secluded area. Muggings at gunpoint while you are in the water have become increasingly popular criminal activities, so make sure to hide your valuables. Pickpockets are in every country - just be careful in crowded areas.
Street vendors are decidedly less aggressive than most Caribbean nations. A simple "no thank you" is sufficient.
Some of the locals will offer gifts when you stop however don't be naive - they expect something in return, so either refuse the gift in the first place or be prepared to pay a dollar or 2 for the proffered "gift". These people are very poor and unemployment is high so tourists are often the sole means they have to make some money.
Driving can be fun, but you should be a confident driver as driving is on the left, the roadways can be narrow, steep and in rough condition. A 4x4 or similar high-clearance vehicle is necessary if you decide to venture into the mountains. There's only one main roadway so it is difficult to get lost, but should it happen the locals will help you find your way.
Sexual acts between men are illegal and carry a custodial sentence of up to 10 years, though it is not known how strictly this is enforced. Gay travellers should be safer here than in, for example, Jamaica. However caution is advised and public displays of affection may be met with hostility. There is no law which explicitly forbids lesbianism.